I grew up going to church. Lots of church services that is…every season, multiple days and nights a week. I wasn’t a church mouse, but more of a church rat. Much of it I loved, some of it I liked and certain moments were downright painful. What hasn’t changed in me or the church is our need to live life connected to God through Jesus. That is to walk with Jesus in my waking and sleeping and resting and working and succeeding and failing moments. Often we like to spiritualize this with the moniker “pursuing God’s will.”
Today, as a Pastor, one of the most common questions I get asked is “How do I know God’s will?” We all want to know “God’s will” don’t we? As of late, I’ve been challenged to rethink this language in my life. Just this morning, over coffee, a trusted friend gave me the perfect language. What we want is to walk with Jesus and to a walk with Him in a way that allows us to know His heart for our lives. So I ask:
How do I walk with God in a way that I can hear His voice? How does my relationship with Jesus allow me to feel God’s gentle nudge? Immediately the story of Elijah at Mt. Horeb comes to mind.
We find the story in 1 Kings 19. But the story begins before that with Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal. Here in these two chapters and the surrounding story we find a beautiful picture of what it means to walk with God in a way that we can hear His voice. For context, you should take a minute and read 1 Kings 18 and 19.
The first step in hearing His voice is to worship. As we worship before the Lord in faith we prepare our hearts and lives to draw near to Him.
Elijah’s entire posture is worship. After God has shown himself and some crazy things go down with the prophets of Baal we read this in 1 Kings 18:42, “So Ahab went up to eat and drink. But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees.” Ahab goes back to normal life, while Elijah humbly steps out in worship before the Lord with his very physical posture.
The second step in hearing God’s voice is to run. As I run (not walk) in the direction God is leading I find myself exactly where He wants me to be.
God is very clear with Elijah. Elijah responds by running in God’s direction. I remind my children often that obedience has to do with how quickly they respond. Not just that they respond eventually. In verse 46 we read, “Then the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel.”
Elijah ran. He ran (unlike Jonah) in the exact direction of God’s instruction. That is obedience. That is running toward God. Running in God’s direction allows us to hear His voice.
The third step to hear God’s voice is to listen. As I listen in the quiet His voice will stand out from the others.
I’m not sure what happened between Elijah running to Jezreel and his appearing on Mt. Horeb. Was their significance that this is where God met with Moses? Maybe the burning bush and the Ten Commandments were on his mind? I do know that Elijah finds himself being rocked by the great power of God and the great noise of the earth. Yet he holds fast, waiting for God’s presence and voice. 1 Kings 19:12-13 reads, “…after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.”
Elijah in the midst of the noise of life, waited, listening for God’s voice. He was prepared through the steps of worship and running, to listen and come full-circle. In doing so he continued the journey of walking with God in a way that allowed him to hear His voice above all others.
In my life, God’s voice has been heard in the burning bush moments and found in the quiet of the mountaintops. As we have been given the Holy Spirit as God’s presence within us we have the great joy and responsibility of walking with God. That is, to walk with Jesus in a way that we hear The Voice. Not only hearing, but embracing His presence and following Him with all we are.
What could it look like if you and I choose to walk with God in a way that we can’t miss The Voice?