The still small voice…
We hear those words used in Christian circles but why does Dr. Willard discuss that?
The voice or vision that God uses to communicate with us has a “vastly greater role than anything else.”
This still small voice that Dr. Willard is referring to is from the story of Samuel [1 Samuel 3:8-9] when Elijah determined that God was calling Samuel to deliver a message to him.
Was the message important? Yes.
Was the communication dramatic? No
That is the problem. People think that God communication must come in the form of “fireworks from heaven.” However, a gentle nudge, a pleasant vision or a soothing dream may be the medium that is used to deliver a message.
What is the problem with this? First of all, people may be expecting the dramatic and if you are looking for that, you will miss the “still small voice.” Today in the busy world we live in, there are so many distractions that we can miss a “still small voice” in the din we call life.
This is very confusing isn’t it?
Dr. Willard discusses a Guidepost Magazine story about an ordinary housewife who cried for four days. Then she saw a ball of light in her living room and Jesus appeared. Jesus was perfect in appearance and He stayed with her in her house for three months and then He left. Years later, she found herself speaking to a church group and she felt that Jesus was looking at her again. There He was, through the eyes of a woman in the 2nd row. Then through the eyes of everyone in the audience.
Some people may say she is hallucinating.
Some may say that she is under the influence of some drug.
Some may say she had a nervous breakdown.
Some may even say she is under the influence of the devil.
Whatever happened, it was dramatic and impossible to miss. The problem is in telling others about the experience. That’s where the doubts will begin to occur. That’s where the credibility of the recipient of God’s communication will be called into question. Yet the woman swears by her story.
Is it up to us to question her experience?
By way of contrast I am going to reference a less dramatic Guidepost article submitted more recently to the online version of the magazine. A reader of this blog sent me the story of this God message.
I was halfway out the door on my way to a business trip in Heath, Ohio, when I spotted it. Sitting in the sink, staring me down. An empty plastic milk jug. It aggravated me to no end. Was it just going to walk itself into the recycling bin? My husband and I were both neat freaks. It was odd he’d leave a mess the one morning I was in a rush. I dropped my suitcase and picked up the container. That’s when I heard it. A voice. Fill the jug with water.
What? I shook my head. Heath was a four-hour drive away and I had to be there by noon. It was already past seven. Why would I waste time filling an old jug with water? Maybe the recent drought was on my mind—my small town in West Virginia hadn’t seen a drop of rain all summer. But would I really have an urgent need for water on this trip? A whole jug of it?
The voice persisted. Fill it with water! Fill the jug.
Fine! Anything to leave already. I filled the container from the tap and left it in the sink while I packed my car. The moment I backed out of the garage though, the voice returned.
You forgot the milk jug! Go get it!
There was no time to argue. I ran inside the house, grabbed the container, set it down in the back of the car and headed for Heath. The country road was quiet so early in the morning, except for the sound of water sloshing back and forth in the milk jug.
Up ahead, I spotted a pickup truck on the side of the road. Standing next to it was a young man I knew from church and his three daughters. They looked like they needed help. I pulled over. “What happened?” I called out.
“I was driving the girls to school and my car just died,” he explained. “The radiator needs water. I went down to the creek, but with this drought it’s bone dry. I don’t know what to do.”
My husband told me later that he didn’t remember leaving the jug out.
But that young man and his family were grateful someone did.
It was a voice. A still small voice asking her to do something that was strange but not dramatically strange.
This story does not seem as “far-fetched as the vision of Jesus in the living room: “a sudden hum and crackle in the air. She saw a ball of white light through the window, spaying showers of multi-colored light in its wake and approaching her with amazing speed…she saw a face.”
Chapter 5 is all about the various ways that God communicates, His voice. “We need to consider the various ways in which God addresses men and women.”
Do we need to have doctrine to help us understand the voice of God?
Do we need to be avid students of God’s word?
Dr. Willard will tell us what we need to have in place in upcoming pages.
Keep in mind the story of Samuel. He had no idea that God was speaking to him, he was a child.
Yet God did.