Recognizing His Voice

Recognizing His Voice
By Pam Richards Watts
As one old enough to remember life before computers, I am still astonished by the wonder of modern technology that is email. When I was growing up, such a thing would have seemed fantastic, a creation of science fiction. Today, sitting at the computer and preparing to hit “Send,” I marvel at the innovation that has become such a routine aspect of everyday life. For someone who loves to talk as much as I do, I’m thrilled by this advance in communication. At last, limitless conversation!
Through email I can totally indulge my love of language, editing messages until they are just right. (If only I could install “edit” and “delete” buttons on my mouth!) Email is also wonderfully accommodating to a busy schedule. While I would consider it the height of bad manners to call a friend after 10:00 pm just to chat, online I can correspond at any hour of the day or night.
I have found email to be a great way to connect with my dear friend Holly. Our relationship began with a thirty-minute phone call, and our dialogue hasn’t slowed down since. Unfortunately, shared responsibilities of work, home and six kids between us make it difficult to find time to start a conversation, let alone finish one. Thanks to email, though, conversations take place without limits or disturbances. Whether Holly is five miles down the road or five hundred miles away, we have many satisfying “e-chats” in our future.
Our friendship has been reinforced by our many emails. Some of the most rewarding conversations I’ve ever had with Holly take place this way, and some of the most satisfying emails I receive come from her. I’m very familiar with Holly’s personal writing style, one that is as distinctive as she is. Her bubbly personality is mirrored in the cute emoticons sprinkled throughout her messages, while text abbreviations like LOL reflect her splendid sense of humor. Subject matter, style, tone or even the occasional misspelled word all characterize these messages as patently “Holly.”
Through such communication, I have come to know Holly well, and since I know her well, I can identify her correspondence. Even without her name in the address line, I could recognize her emails easily.
I’m thankful I can use email without understanding how it works. Otherwise, I’d be in big trouble. I’m the last one who should ever answer technical questions about email. At best, I could point out what to click on in order to send, forward or delete. Fortunately, my hopeless ignorance doesn’t prevent me from reading or sending it.
I am equally at a loss trying to explain how it is that God communicates. Such a mystery escapes my understanding even more than the most advanced computer technology. To begin with, it is totally beyond me to authenticate the Bible. I’m no biblical scholar. I can’t say how so many authors living hundreds of years apart created a work of literature that declares itself the Living Word of God. Oh, sure, I’ve opened it enough times that I can locate certain key passages. I know the difference between the Old and New Testament. I‘ve even committed a few verses to memory. However, my familiarity with it doesn’t qualify me to answer questions about it.
Fortunately, I don’t have to hold a degree in hermeneutics to hear God when He speaks to me through scripture. When a familiar verse suddenly jumps off the page, I recognize His voice. I can’t rationalize the way He speaks to me through prayer, either, but I know when it happens. Private reflections are interrupted unexpectedly by a startling and original concept, and I recognize such wisdom as His voice. Still, how does one substantiate such a claim? I’m not equipped to give a satisfactorily plausible explanation.
Once upon a time, I would have thought that “hearing from God” this way was far-fetched, like so much religious fiction. Today I marvel at my former skepticism as here I sit, transformed through countless conversations. Such contact has become a fundamental part of my daily life—and every time it happens I am still astonished and humbled.
It is through such communication that I have come to know God, and since I have gotten to know Him, I know when He is speaking to me. I’m able to hear from Him without understanding how He does it. Whether He reaches me through a sermon, or prayer or a devotional I read in an email, I can always recognize His voice.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27, NIV).
I’m able to recognize His voice when He speaks to me through the Bible without having the foggiest notion about how the writings of multiple people living hundreds of years apart came to be the true and living Word of God. You wouldn’t want to ask me how to explain such a thing. But any attempt on my part to explain “Bible technology” would leave anyone more confused than before. My accounting of it would at best be unsatisfactory and bewildering, and at worst would leave me looking like a babbling idiot.

We’ve had ourselves some pretty powerful talks through prayer, Scripture and sermons. However eloquent I can be, in the end all I can really say about email is how much I enjoy it, what I find meaningful about it, or how I have benefited from it. But I’ll never be able to tell you how it works

Sometimes it comes through rereading a familiar verse that seems to jump off the page; other times it is a startling concept that interrupts my private thoughts. I’m so very thankful I don’t have to be a “communications expert” in order to have access to the ultimate in communication.