I love the smell of coffee - especially on a day like today when some colder, drier air is blowing through Texas, and we can all rejoice that another long, hot summer is finally over. Every night before we go to bed, I set the coffee pot ready to go for the morning, so all we have to do is push the button and it starts brewing, filling the kitchen with that wonderful aroma. Then every afternoon, whether we are at the office or at home, we brew a pot and enjoy the taste and smell again. Every morning and every afternoon Eli and I come together for a few minutes over a pot of coffee to talk about our day - what is happening, what is on the horizon, things we are trying to work through, people and things we are praying for - those two pots of coffee that we share every day have been an important touchstone in our lives.
I met my husband when I was all of seventeen years old. We were both freshmen on our college aquatics team, and pretty soon we were dating. We spent some time together that spring semester before we both had to go home for the summer - he to Texas and me to Virginia. I remember calling his house one day that summer in the days of landline phones, and talking to his brother on the phone for ten whole minutes before I realized it wasn’t Eli! Their voices seemed so similar that I did not recognize who was on the other end of the phone.
Now we have been married almost 26 years, and I really know him. We have spent well over half of our lives together. If you do the math, that means we have shared about 18,400 pots of coffee - imagine how many thousands of conversations that time represents, how many major life events. He has called me from remote villages on the other side of the world, on the crackliest of connections, but I still know his voice. I can walk into a room with hundreds of people, but I can pick his voice out of the crowd any day.
Not only that, but anyone could tell me that my husband said this or that, and I would know right away if they were telling the truth. I not only know his voice after all these years, but I know his heart and the way he thinks, too. I know just what he would say and what he wouldn’t say - I know him.
I really began walking with the the Lord about the same time I met my husband. When I was a new believer, I did not know how to recognize God's voice - how to know what He really said or did not say. But after 28 years of reading the Bible, praying, pouring over great Christian books, listening to sermons, seeking, fasting, worshipping, listening - after thousands of conversations with God, I know Him. I can recognize His voice loudly and clearly among the din of other voices competing for my attention. I know what His Word says, and will not be easily fooled by imposters. I know His plan for my life, and will not be distracted away from it.
God is not silent, and He speaks all the time. He is a Father who loves His children. He wants very much for you and me to know how to recognize His voice from the many other noises and voices we are bombarded with every day. God created us for that very purpose - fellowship - both with Himself and with each other, and He has not just spun us out on our own. Down through the history of His beautiful Church, we have written accounts of the many men and women who testify to the fact that He still leads and guides His children. And it is not some special privilege reserved for only the elite, or only those of a particular denomination or fellowship, or for those of a particular nationality, race, or gender.
How do we hear His voice?
The number one way is the Bible, plain and simple. Another name for the Bible is The Word of God, because that is exactly what it is. Many people would try to tell you that the Bible is not special, that it has nothing to say to us in this modern world, or even that it is wrong and wicked. Some say this in ignorance, having never read it or just parroting what they have heard someone else say, but others say this because they very much wish it to be true in order to justify their choices.
The reality is that over a span of 2500 years, across borders and classes and cultures, God inspired and used people to write His perfect revelation of Himself to people. It never contradicts itself, it is filled with prophecies that have come to pass hundreds of years after they were spoken, and it is utterly true and powerful. When you and I read the Bible, we hear God speak. Not only does it plainly communicate God's heart is through its pages, The Word also has the power to speak something new and fresh to each of us each time we read it. There is nothing like it! It is real truth and has real answers. It grounds us and gives us perspective about what life is truly about. It gives up hope for today and for the future. It equips us to be people who can bring real comfort and peace and change to the people all around us.
"It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts.” - A.W. Tozer
Just like in my own relationship with my husband, the way to know God's voice is to spend time with Him every day, day after day. Pick up the Bible and read it again. Great things happen when people begin to read God's Word and listen to His voice - history shows that lives are changed and societies transformed.
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Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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