“Now listen, listen closely…” my grandfather whispered to me. “The violins are about to come in… Now! Listen! Can you hear the violins?”
I opened my eyes very wide, as if that could help a little girl hear what her erudite grandfather so patiently attempted to point out to her. I heard beautiful harmonies, high and low notes, all mixed together; I perceived waves of sounds diving downwards and then rushing to unthinkable heights, surprising me, confusing me, and inspiring awe in my innocent soul. And yet, despite all my heartfelt efforts, I could not hear the violin at all, or any other instrument. I could only hear all of them.
Life is a bit like classical music, and hearing God’s voice can be as difficult as distinguishing the sound of the violin in a symphony for a five-year-old girl… except that life is not always quite as harmonious as Mozart’s works, and the sound of the violin is not comparable to the beauty of God’s voice.
Have you ever stopped for a moment to listen to God’s voice? Would you train your soul to distinguish God’s voice in the rush and hustle—or in the monotony—of daily life, just as my grandfather trained my ears? If you want to, I think you can.
1. Trust that His voice is there. Despite the failure described above, I did learn to distinguish the vibrant shrill of the violin when I was quite young. My grandfather was very obviously the wisest person alive, so I fully trusted that the sound of the violin was there, even though at the time I heard nothing—or everything, to be more precise. If you fully trust that God is trying to communicate with you, you will be more attentive to hearing His voice.
2. Make the constant effort to listen. An immense chasm separates two concepts that seem so similar: hearing and listening. Listening requires intentionality and even implies a certain acquiescence. When it comes to listening to God’s voice, there should be an incessant intentionality. Listen for His voice in moments of silent prayer, while you read God’s word, when your parents ask you to do something, when your friends give you advice, when you fail, when you are successful, when you suffer, when you are filled with joy and peace… In your day-to-day life, in the situations you find yourself in, ask, “Lord, what are you trying to say to me?”
3. Be docile. What do you do when you hear His voice? Or when you have an intuition that He may be calling out to you? Every time you hear God’s voice and try to live out what He is asking of you, you become more attuned to His voice. But if you ignore Him and prefer to live your life “your own way,” the opposite happens. And that is a grave responsibility before God. If you cannot hear Him, perhaps He continues to call out, but you have so deafened yourself that you no longer hear. Or, even worse, God may decide not to speak to you, at least for a time, lest your soul acquire graver culpability.
4. Be grateful and generous. As soon as you hear Him, thank Him, and try to live in accord with what you have heard. Have you experienced His infinite love for you? Accept it so fully that it pours out upon those who surround you. Has He spoken of His mercy despite your sin? Accept it wholeheartedly so you can learn to forgive. Has He entrusted to you a mission? Accept it with generosity, trust that it will fulfill you, and ask Him to give you the strength to carry it out.
An important clarification must be made here. God does not need you to follow any of the advice I just gave to communicate with you. If He wishes, He can make even the hardest heart surrender before His thundering roar. But I think God prefers to whisper. I hope these little steps can help you listen to His “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).