“After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” John 10:4,5
I did. I did, indeed. I knew I’d heard it before, too, but I couldn’t place it. I stilled, hoping to hear it again.
There it was again. Not a whistle, but not a chirp or honk. More of a gentle toneless ‘whoosh’.
We heard them long before we saw them. Moments later, we marked their progress by the sheen of white in the fading evening daylight.
Geese are much more plentiful, but we do see swans on their fall pilgrimage, and here were some fine specimens making their way to the lakeshore to hole up for the night.
Hubby knows and recognizes so many of the feathered ones common to this area. I am slowly learning their habits from him, sorting them by size and colour – and ultimately learning to recognize their various calls.
And just as Hubby can pick out a swan in a crowd of snow geese by its voice, so we are to recognize God calling us.
So. Many. Voices.
It is a question of tone, accent, vocal quality.
More than that, it is a question of vocal pattern – what kinds of words does He tend to use? What kinds of messages is He likely to give?
And to make things more complicated – the voice of God is further disguised as – our personal thoughts.
Or His ideas will come show up in the voice of another person.
We can’t hear an actual audible voice.
(At least, not usually.)
But just as a tundra swan’s call can be distinguished from that of a snow goose or even a trumpeter swan, we too can learn to distinguish God’s call from other voices.
But – we need to know Him first.
Know His habits. Know the kinds of things He is likely to say. Know what He would never say.
For example – He will never lie.
He will never contradict Himself.
He will convict, but not condemn. Challenge, but not discourage. Lift, not bury, love, not cut apart.
It takes time to learn the call of the tundra swan.
It takes time to learn the call of God.
Put in some time learning what the voice of God sounds like with me?
Father, You call each of us, communicate with us in different ways. Help us to distinguish Your voice. Help us to hear Your call even among all the competing voices in our ears day to day. May we hear, recognize, and obey when we hear You speak. Amen.