Hearing God

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The Journey to Hear God's Voice
by Kathi Pelton

Hearing God in the dark night of the soul
A number of years ago I was going through a tough time in my life in which I really needed to hear the voice of God on a constant basis to keep me moving forward through the obstacles that I was facing. I found that the hardest time to hear the voice of God is when seemingly negative circumstances are screaming in your ears and glaring in your eyes. But I also knew that this "crisis" had given me an opportunity to press into hearing and seeing Him like never before. Circumstances that are challenging can either be a brick wall to keep you from moving into a greater level of hearing or,  with the help of the Spirit,  it can become a doorway into greater intimacy with God.

During this difficult time I found it necessary to focus intently on Jesus and to immerse myself in the truth of His Word. Being the mother of four active young children at the time posed a challenge as far as finding time to focus. Due to the enormity of the circumstances that I was facing at the time it was difficult to move beyond the natural realm and go into the spirit realm. In desperation, I found that the night hours became my times of refuge. I would often sleep for a couple hours and then get up in the wee hours of the morning to journey into hearing and seeing the One whom my heart longed to hear from.

These times usually began with an hour of pressing through my own fears, thoughts, doubts and confusion. I often found myself praying through the Psalms of David because so many of them begin in fear and doubt but end in hope and faith. During this season, when darkness seemed to be closing in around me like black turbulent waters, each night I had to journey through my fears and doubts in order to find those "still waters" where the voice of God can be heard and His loving embrace felt.

I would reach into the darkness to find the hand of my faithful Father who would lovingly lead me through the pain and the fears right into His peaceful arms. By the end of the night's journey I would have heard the voice of my Shepherd speak words of peace into my storm. Sometimes "hearing" came through a verse in His word that birthed faith out of fear. Sometimes it would come through waves of comfort that would pour into me like warm water.  Other times it would come through a picture or vision that would remind me that I am never alone and then there were even times where the morning would dawn and His voice came through the morning embrace of one of my small children. I learned through this the true meaning of "His mercies are new each morning."

The journey of learning to hearing the voice of God in trying times imparted perseverance and tenacity within me. These times also birthed testimonies of His faithfulness that have carried me like a lifeboat through many more storms.  In the beginning of my journey of walking with God I rely on the stories of others to give me the faith to face the storms, but as my journeys took me through these storms, they become personal testimonies of His faithfulness that give to me greater faith and also gave faith to those whose journeys have just begun.

Hearing God day by day
Although hearing God in the storms can be a challenge, they also give us a reason to press into Him. As our life in Christ goes by year by year sometimes the challenge becomes to remain sensitive to pressing into Him even when things are going well.

For me the key has been to walk in constant communion with Him. Not long after I left the dark season that I spoke of above, the Lord invited me to journey with Him into a new exciting season of hearing Him in the journey of everyday life. Each day I would commit my steps to Him and then trust that He would interrupt my plans so that He could order my steps to take me where He wanted to go.

I remember one day in particular. I had the desire to go downtown and get a coffee at a local coffee house. I had a regular place that I always went to get my coffee but this day I just had a "feeling" to go to a different place. I went to that place, fully expecting that God wanted to show me or tell me something. I ordered my coffee and sat down and waited. As I sat there I didn't hear anything or see anything out of the ordinary. After a while I thought that maybe I just "missed it" and it was just my thoughts leading me there and not God's voice. So I got up and walked out.

As I walked out of the coffee shop, which was located right next to a grocery store I remembered that we were low on milk so I went into the store to buy some milk for our family. As I went into the store I saw a debit cash machine and a strong sense went through me to stop and get $100 in cash out of it. Once again I obeyed the "sense" (it was not an audible voice, just a clear thought!) I withdrew the money and went to get my milk. As I walked down the aisle I could hear a couple talking in the next aisle. It was a husband and wife arguing over whether to buy toilet paper or milk for their kids (obviously they only had enough money for one or the other). In that moment, I knew that they were the ones who the money was for. I quickly went to the aisle that they were in and approached them.

I briefly told them the story of my morning and that I felt that God wanted them to have the money. The husband began to weep right there in the grocery store. He shared with me that he and his wife were new believers and he was wondering if they had made a mistake in their years as unbelievers by getting married. They had kids but never had enough money. He had asked God that very morning to show him through a tangible sign that He was for his family and for his marriage. This gift of provision was his sign and he knew it. He had heard the voice of the Lord through my act of trusting that I was hearing the voice of the Lord...yet neither of us heard an audible voice.

God speaks through pictures, thoughts, senses and even the natural circumstances of our lives. Though there are those amazing stories where people have had the visitation of angels or heard an audible voice in the night, these are the exceptions rather than the rule. God speaks mostly in that still small voice of our thoughts and senses. As we learn to trust these we learn the difference between the voice of our Shepherd and the voice of a stranger.

"...and the sheep hear his voice, and when he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he puts forth all of his own, he goes before them and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee because they do not know the voice of strangers." John 10: 3-5

Because the voice of our Shepherd leads us into green pastures and to still waters where we are refreshed and others are refreshed, the voice of a stranger leads us to places that are barren and full of chaos. Although the green pasture may take on the form of Calcutta, India or Gulu, Uganda they are still green pastures if the true Shepherd has led you there. They will confound the wisdom of men.

I remember as a young believer reading a quote by a missionary to Calcutta, India, Mark Buntain. He said that he was the happiest man on earth. Although he, his wife and daughter were living in the poorest and most filthy place on earth, it was his green pastures because he trusted that he heard from God and traveled to this distant land from his home in Canada. There he found his greatest joy...God's love for India.

Take a step of faith
I want to encourage you to accept God's invitation to hear Him in everyday life. It will be the most fascinating journey that you have ever embarked on! It will take you to places you never dreamed of and have you doing things you never thought possible. Hearing God's voice will be the most joyful sound you have ever heard...even though you may never hear an audible sound! Each day ask Him to order your steps and you will find yourself hearing things that leave you speechless.


Kathi Pelton and her husband Jeff live in Windsor, California and are directors of Compassion Arise. For 4 years they served as directors of The War Room in Kelowna, British Columbia. Kathi has a deep passion to see Canada fulfill its destiny and to be a resting place for the Lord. She is a frequent contributor toThe Elijah List.