The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

When We Long to Hear His Voice


They were squatted in the tall grass, still as lions waiting to pounce. 

Hannah lifted her index finger to her pursed pink lips as I drew near. “Shh….” she said, “We’re listening for God.”
Her little brother, green eyes wide with expectation, stared at the soil beneath his feet as if he might spy an approaching footprint in the moist earth.  

Hannah cupped a hand to her ear and lifted her head above the brown reeds and thick prairie grass. Listening. Hoping. 
The very sight of them tangled my heart. How many times have I been there- waiting for a word from the One who spoke my life into being? Hunching low in hope, crouching upon His promises. Listening for a whisper in the wind or a rumble in the reeds. Many days, I’m still crouching; cupping my ears, watching for signs of His footprints. Longing to hear His voice.

 In his classic book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer paints a word picture of how the average person learns to recognize God’s voice.  He writes, “First, a sound as a presence walking in the garden.  Then a voice, more intelligible but still far from clear.  Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures and that which had only been a sound or at best a voice now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and as clear as the word of a dear friend.”   
From sensing God’s quiet presence to comprehending divine words with clarity, I have experienced each piece of the progression that Tozer describes. 
A decade ago, after moving to a new community, I answered the phone and heard a vaguely familiar voice say, “We were thinking about going to the park if you’d like to meet us there….”  

While I was thrilled with the invitation, I couldn’t immediately identify who was on the other end of the receiver.  Not wanting to embarrass myself or the speaker in question, I merely asked for directions to the park and hoped I would recognize a face once I got 

       Sure enough as my children tumbled out of the van towards the playground, I spotted a woman I had met earlier at church. 

“Ah-ha!” I thought as I returned the friendly wave, “So it was her!” 
My first encounters with hearing God’s voice were much like fielding phone calls from a vaguely familiar friend.  A “gentle nudge” in my heart made me aware of His presence, but I was unable to decipher specifics. I often proceeded in faith and hoped to recognize God more clearly in the process.  

While seeking our first jobs out of college, my husband and I stumbled upon an inviting opportunity to teach at an international school in Austria. We prayed for wisdom and waited for God to speak.  When our hearts were nudged by a sermon titled, “Finding God’s Will for Your Life,” we assumed the Lord had given us the go- ahead. We accepted the job, moved overseas, and anticipated the beginning of a romantic European adventure. 

Months later, isolated by language barriers and weary from challenging job conditions, we questioned if we had heard God correctly.  Only in retrospect were we able to recognize the ways God had used that experience to solidify our young marriage and prepare us for the difficult years to come as Rob’s commitment to medical school (which coincided with our initiation into parenthood) required long hours of work under demanding conditions.  

With hindsight, we were able to recognize God’s precise purpose in our calling overseas and say with confidence, “A-ha! So it was Him!” 

A decade later when Rob and I grappled again with the question of relocation, I cupped the ears of my heart once more and hoped to hear God’s voice.   Though this time the job opportunities did not entail a trek over the ocean, they did require uprooting our family of five. With my husband’s medical training drawing to a close, we prayerfully considered which practice to join upon Rob’s graduation. 

Remembering how God had guided us before, I picked apart every sermon I heard and sought the Lord’s answer through the voice of His messengers. But this time, God chose to switch on the light of His Word and make His wisdom glow like a neon sign.

According to Stormie O’Martian, “One of the most priceless gems you will find in God’s word is His voice.  That’s because He speaks to us through His Word as we read it or hear it.  In fact, we can’t really learn to recognize God’s voice to our soul if we are not hearing Him speak to us first in His Word” (The Power of a Praying Woman)

 One morning in the thick of our decision making,  I was walking and praying and pouring out my heart to the Lord.  

“God,” I cried.  “I have no idea where we should go next. I want our family to land exactly where you have planned for us to be.  But I just can’t figure out where that is!” 

When I finished ranting, I reached into my pocket for the memory verses I had grabbed before heading out the door. As soon as my eyes fell on the words,  I began to cry. 

“If you make the Most High your dwelling…then no harm will befall you…For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 9:9-11). 

Immediately, an unexplainable peace washed over me.  God was talking directly to my heart that morning.  

“It doesn’t matter where you move,” He assured me with words as clear as those of a good friend. “Just make me your home, and I will take care of you.” 

And so we moved with confidence and found Him waiting for us in our new community, just as He’d promised.

We haven’t relocated for a while, but lately, it feels like life is always shifting. New situations. New challenges. New schedules. But the one thing that never changes is His promise to speak into each season of our life and lead us through it.

I glance once more at my little ones waiting patiently in the damp grass. And I pray that they will have ears to hear their Father’s voice. In the weeds.  In the Word. And in every place in between. 

The Overflow: Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.-Isaiah 28:3

Happily linking with Tracy at Winsome Wednesdays  And Jennifer at Getting Down With Jesus



11 thoughts on “When We Long to Hear His Voice

  1. I’m always waiting expectantly like your children, waiting for His voice to tell me what to do. But it’s always in His word, when a verse comes to life before me I know that it is Him. We are contemplating a move of our own, and I’ve been praying over which place would be best for us. When I read “It doesn’t matter where you move, Just make me your home.” I knew then, that it didn’t matter, as long as we are putting Christ first we will be OK 🙂

    April 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm
  2. Yes! You’ll be more than OK, you’ll be held in His hand 🙂 Love how He goes ahead of us- wherever He leads.

    April 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm
  3. He speaks into every season of our life….a good reminder for a difficult season.

    April 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm
  4. Hi Alicia – I loved your comment about “how it didn’t matter where you move as long as you make God your home” Its so profound for me as often we make it more complicated than it really is. Great post and great encouragement.
    God bless

    April 26, 2012 at 6:34 am
  5. this is a topic that Brooke and I have been discussing heavily….she wants to know how to know if what she is hearing is her own mind or her the Spirit!? I am going to have her read this post! So she realizes it is a life long journey…our relationship with our Heavenly Father…and I love your quote…he will take care of us!

    April 27, 2012 at 2:21 am
  6. And I LOVE your daughter! Will be praying that she has ears to hear Him clearly. Won’t it be fun to see where He leads our kids as they listen?

    April 27, 2012 at 10:23 am
  7. We’ve strained to hear God’s directions so many times. Sometimes it came in an obvious way, sometimes in ways that made us laugh. Often, we only see his leading in retrospect, finding ourselves saying things such as, “WOW! We wouldn’t have made that decision on our own!” yet at the time we allow ourselves to feel we are in control.

    April 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm
  8. Loved it that your post came with a telephone graphic! Though having the Holy Spirit indwell me is ultimately far superior, sometimes I wish for a literal phone that God could call me on 🙂

    April 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm
  9. Alicia,

    You have a gift for beautifully illustrating the truths of God. And Tozer? One of my faves. I return to Pursuit of God again and again.

    Really glad you’ve linked again. You’re a blessing.

    April 28, 2012 at 4:09 am
  10. Great testimony and soooo true! My brother in law (who has since passed away) once told me that speaking to God was like speaking to a friend over the phone.If you spoke often enough, you would recognize his voice even if he doesn’t identify himself, and you would also recognize if it was a “party line”, some other person’s voice trying to confuse you! Had a nice visit to your blog, and I love what you wrote in your profile. Will follow you on bloglovin so I can come again. Patsy from

    May 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm
  11. “It doesn’t matter how You move. Just make God your home.”// This is such beautiful truth. Thank you.

    May 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm

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