I’ve picked up a pet peeve from my father. At least I think I got it from him. Let’s just say that it’s an annoyance we share. It really aggravates me when people call me and, as soon as I pick up the phone, launch into conversation without ever identifying themselves. I like people. I really do. But I find it impossible to memorize the voice of everyone I know. Actually, sometimes I even have trouble telling which of my brothers is calling me if he doesn’t identify himself.
But I don’t have any trouble identifying the voices of my wife or my parents. They are probably the three people I have spent the most time with and have the most intimate relationships with. In fact, I can hear my English professor mother’s voice correcting the previous sentence because I ended it with a preposition!
And that’s how intimate relationships work. Not only do you recognize the voice of the one talking to you but you get to the point where you can hear the other person’s voice commenting and talking to you without them even having to be around you.
Recently someone asked me how she could know the will of God for her life and how she could be sure that she was doing the right things to be in the will of God. I understand the difficulty of what she’s asking. Very few people I know have burning bush experience like Moses where God tells us unequivocally what he wants us to do. It seems that many of us have to go through life practicing discernment when it comes to God’s will. And sometimes it’s just plain tough to figure out.
We want the “Wizard of Oz” experience – Dorothy is given only one road to follow (the yellow brick one, of course). But I think the key is not in finding the one road God would have us take but in developing the intimate relationship with him that allows us to recognize his voice and to be able to hear his voice in our circumstances, know what he would say to us, even before he says it. This is the kind of relationship I envision the Apostle Paul is talking about in Romans 12:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The more we allow God to transform us, and the more we are like him and the less we are like the world, we are better able actually to recognize his voice and to know what he would say. But such intimacy only happens over time. Not just quality but quantity as well. Do you want to know God’s will for your life? Do you want to hear his voice and understand his direction? Have you put in the time and effort to build an intimate relationship with him?
Because when he calls, it’s not so great to stop him mid-sentence and ask, “May I ask who’s calling?”