Summer 2013 photos 072

As I was driving recently, I thought I saw my friend Ellen running.  Her pony tail was the right color and length, her outfit looked like one my friend owns, and she turned into my friend’s neighborhood.  However, I quickly concluded it wasn’t Ellen after I watched a few of her strides.  The girl’s gait differed from my friend’s way of running.  Like recognizing a dear friend’s voice over the phone without any introduction, the ability to recognize someone from a distance comes from a familiarity developed through time spent together.  That gift of recognition, grown from a special closeness with someone, is a comfort and a blessing.

And their eyes were opened and they recognized him …  Luke 24:31

At first glance, that scripture is a bit unnerving.  How am I to recognize God’s voice if two of Jesus’ apostles could walk seven miles with Him from Jerusalem to Emmaus after His resurrection without recognizing Him?  He speaks through many channels … others’ words and actions, nature, and our surroundings, silent thoughts, and experiences, but sometimes I need a hearing aide.  The audio problem isn’t on His end; it’s on mine.  My first obstacle is my reluctance to let go of my agenda.  Until I do, I’m not genuinely trying to recognize His voice.  No matter how good I think my plan is, I need to be willing to let it go and trust in something that will be even better – God’s plan.  Choosing between good and evil is clear, but trusting that God can make our plans better can be tough, especially if we’re not used to doing it.  Once I decide to listen, how do I recognize His voice?  I need a standard … a conscience that houses God’s Spirit of truth and sounds the alarm when I’m listening to someone other than Him.  That kind of conscience is informed of His law and formed in His love.  It has to be exercised to gain and retain its strength …. and, the work-out opportunities abound.  The devil is proficient at counterfeiting God’s guidance.  Two of His best ways of distracting us from God’s voice are fueling our ability to rationalize anything and everything and using our emotions to boost our confidence in taking action without God.  Consider how we react to life when we’re tired, hungry, angry, lonely, hurt, or scared.  The devil’s quick fixes cater to those emotions and justify less-than-admirable decisions.  And, the faster he can get us to act, the less likely we are to consult God and recognize the counterfeit.  It’s scary to consider where God might lead us.  But, the better we are at recognizing His voice, the farther away we’ll stay from the enemy, who only wants to harm us, and the closer we’ll get to God, who wants only the best for us.

Dear God, please open our eyes and ears to Your voice.  Amen.