Recognizing the Voice of the Holy Spirit Within
October 12, 2020
My blog posts at By the Waters the last week in September and the first week of October were about the Holy Spirit. To me He is the One who dwells in us and in the world around us, who communicates with us constantly whether we are aware of His voice or not. He would guide us to a deeper life in God, something that we cannot accomplish by ourselves when we try to move closer to God on our own power. It is only God through the Holy Spirit who can heal and transform us, guide and support us, and bring us to the fullness of who He created each of us to be. It is our job to get on board, to be willing to go where He would lead us, to surrender all of our pain and suffering to Him so that He can free us of all the burdens that we carry. Remember that Jesus said that His yoke is easy, His burden light. [Matt 11:28-33] He is inviting us to unload all that troubles us, all that enslaves us, all the burdens we carry that have nothing to do with who we are, so that we can be free to be exactly who He created us to be.
In my experience the one sure way to hear and to identify His voice within us is to become an observer of our own thoughts. I mean that we have to know ourselves so well and the way that we think that we can identify the source of most thoughts that we have. All thoughts in me about saving money come from my parents and my Aunt Grace who had little money of her own. My parents were adamant about being on time, and I am still driven crazy by an inward push to rush to get somewhere even when I know that I will be early—so powerful was that training. My eagerness to judge other people, particularly other drivers on the road is always self-serving and fails to recognize that I am often at fault, too.
Being an observer of my thoughts means that in the midst of thinking them, I can step back from them and let them go. And I smile, because there it is again! And again! When we know our own thoughts so well, then we can clearly identify God’s voice within us.
It’s often the voice that is so different from our own, that we reject it out of hand: “Oh, I can’t do that!” God calls us to a whole different life, so what He suggests will be different from the way we think. He says things that sound out loud in our minds like these that I have heard:
“I have an agenda for my life.” This led me from asking, “What should I be doing?” to ask this question, “What do I really want to do?”
“How can I say I love God, if I can’t love my mother?” I tried to love her after I heard this, but I was still caught in my teenage rebellion, in my 40’s!. Finally, God surrounded us with a cloud of love on a railroad platform and that changed both of us to gratitude and love for each other.
“If I can just entertain all possible outcomes equally, well, then…” My husband was dying and I just wanted this whole thing to go away! As soon as I could do what He suggested, I was filled with faith in Him. I was able to support my husband, our adult kids and our friends through this passage. And I never resented his death, but just dropped into the grief after he died.
Then there are the nudges about, say, going a different route home, or about what to do next. Or what to read. There are suggestions coming from other people that resonate with us. He can highlight difficult situations from our past that need healing. And all we have to do is to assent to that healing; then the Spirit will make it happen.
God has many different ways of communicating with us. That’s why it is so important to recognize the voice of the Holy spirit when it speaks to us. Otherwise, we are left with indecision, with insecurity and are basically stuck in all the old patterns of behavior from the past. We cannot live in the present, in the presence of God unless we are attuned to His voice, to His presence, and are obedient to His suggestions. He would lead us throughout our days, all day long, if we are attuned to his voice, His Spirit within us. Jesus called Him the Advocate. We could call Him our companion, our support, our friend, our guide to fulfilling our creation. If we are faithful and follow Him and His wisdom, then we will fulfill the promise of our lives.