It is always such a joy for me to spend time in nature. No Internet, no shops close by, and no man-made distractions. Ken and I have recently been privileged to revisit Black Rhino Game Reserve in South Africa, where we stay in a lodge in the middle of the reserve, and at least twice a day, we go on a drive through the Game Reserve to see the animals. But at the lodge, we can be sitting outside enjoying lunch, when a herd of Impala come to drink water just outside the fence. Impala are such a delight to watch. It was while watching the herd and simply spending time with the Lord, that He again reminded me how we need to be tuned into His voice.
The Impala walk very tentatively toward the waterhole. Their ears twitch to each sound — our whisper, a slight movement, the rustle of the grass, or even a bird flying overhead. Their lives depend on it. The herd can be quite peaceful as they rest in the grass, but they remain alert at all times.
John 10:27 tells us that we, His sheep, hear His voice. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” God is always speaking to us, but we are often too busy to hear His voice. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It is in the busyness of life that the voice of God can be drowned out, but when we take the time to be still and tune into God, we will hear His voice. We might think that we are ‘lucky’ not to be like the Impala, whose lives depend on their constant alertness, but the truth is that, in a similar way, the strength and health of our own spiritual lives in Christ very much depend on our hearing His voice. We, too, need to be alert, having ears that are always listening for His voice.
God speaks to our spirit-man in various ways. It is Spirit to spirit. We can get an impression, a feeling, or perhaps a Scripture “jumps out” to us. And if our spirits are still and alert, we will learn to hear the voice of God. Sometimes, like sitting in the quiet of the Game Reserve, I feel such an inner peace and intimacy with the Lord. There might not be “words” communicated, but on a very deep level, I have this assurance of the Father’s love. I have His peace, no matter what is happening in my life. I simply know I am in my Father’s hands, and it is well with my soul. There is such a joy that rises up within, and even though there is sweet communication from Him, no words are needed. I am “hearing” His voice.
Other times, one might “feel” to pray for someone. That feeling or impression is His Spirit communicating with our spirit-man. Then if we ask the Father what it is He wants us to pray for, He will lead us. The more we take time to tune into our Father, the more we will hear Him. “My sheep hear my voice” is not “maybe I will speak and my sheep will hear my voice.” It is simply that we DO hear His voice.
The second part of this Scripture is, “and I know them.” Many of us have a longing to be really known by someone. At times, life can feel lonely, believing there doesn’t seem to be anyone who really knows us in the deepest places. But the Lord knows us intimately. He knows our hearts, our thoughts, our failures, our joys, our sorrows. There is nothing He does not know about us. His love covers all our sins, mistakes, and even the flesh nature within us. It is out of His love that Jesus went to the cross for us. Now that His blood has covered all our sin, we who are His can rest in His knowing us.
The third part of that verse is, “and they follow me.” If we do not hear His voice, we cannot follow an instruction or be encouraged. It is out of that place of hearing His voice, and the deep security of knowing we are fully known by this amazing God, Who formed us Himself, that we follow Him. Jesus is our safety, our life, and the reason we breathe. He is our magnificent King, and it is “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Therefore, our very life depends on being “in Him.”
Just as the life of the Impala depends on being alert to hear all that is around them, we also need to be alert and listen for the voice of our Lord. We need to be still and know that He is God. It is in that place of being secure in His love for us, knowing that He calls us His sons and daughters, that we follow Him and do what He says. It is not a duty, but such a joy to follow Jesus. At times it might be hard, and many emotions rise up, but underlying it all is this love, peace, and joy. That is the nature of kingdom living. It is a beautiful place to live.
Let us all be encouraged to take time to be still before the Lord, so we can be ‘tuned’ in to hear His voice. It is like when a baby cries. Even in a group of people, if one baby cries, the mom will immediately respond. Why? She knows the cry of her baby. So the more we practice listening for the voice of God, the more we will be able to hear His voice in the midst of the busyness and chaos of life. To keep us alert and tuned in, we must regularly take time to be alone with Him. Thus, we will live our lives walking hand-in-hand with Jesus.