There are many voices that speak to us besides God’s voice. Part of learning how to discern God’s voice is learning to recognize the other voices that are simultaneously speaking to us.
There is the voice of the world telling us we need this, that, and the other thing. Or worse yet, we need to be this, that, and the other thing. It compares us to everyone else and when infinity is the standard of course we will never keep up. I personally find it difficult to keep up with Suzy homemaker, the Proverbs 31 women, entrepreneur, entertaining teacher, concerned friend, perfect parent and being a sex goddess…all with a smile. The world speaks to us in “should’s”. You should have this. You should be that. This voice can come from television, friends, husbands, children, and culture.
Then there is the voice of our own desire. Desire, per se, isn’t wrong. In fact, much desire is God-given. He gives us our talents, abilities, and desires which helps define our purpose. He gives good gifts like marriage, children, homes, food, and work that are good to desire. The problem comes when we are willing to do the wrong thing to get our desire and we short circuit the process and grab after the blessing. It’s important to realize that when a blessing is grabbed, stolen, demanded, or manipulated, it actually becomes a curse to us. Think of Jacob and Esau or Abraham and Sarah. Our desire gone astray says, “I must have this now or else.” This includes but is not limited to, “I must have a spiritual husband, smiling children, and perfectionism”.
The third voice is that of the enemy, that is Satan and his demonic minions. The enemy’s voice comes by condemnation and lies. It usually also comes with mocking. The condemnation tends to be vague. It says, “you’re a loser” or “seriously, you think you can do that?” There isn’t really anything tangible to repent of. If there is something tangible to it, it is a voice that says, “Remember your past or where you come from…you will never be better than that.” And the lies that are hurled at us are crazy! When I was eight years old, I found out my older, straight-A, brother had read an entire encyclopedia set when he was five years old. I thought that not only was I already behind, but I must not be very smart because I didn’t even want to read an encyclopedia set. I believed the lie that I wasn’t smart enough so why try into my forties! Not. Even. Kidding.
Sometimes all of the voices speak at once and confusion sets in. If we are going to learn how to hear God, we must be able to discern the voices and respond appropriately. To the world’s voice we learn to say, “I am content and I am enough.” To the voices of desire we simply give these desires to the Lord and learn to wait on Him. And to the voice of the enemy we say, “shut up” and we don’t even have to be nice about it. Then we cock our heads to the left and wait. “Speak to me, Lord, I’m listening.”
Who is talking to you today?