The crux of the Life of the Spirit is this: to know God’s voice within and to heed it. Everything else in the spiritual life is about how we get there. My premise, my belief, is that we have this capacity to know God built into us and that our fulfillment lies in activating that capacity.
The way that we get to this profound experience of God and, thereby, to our own wholeness is through listening, through stillness, through quieting the myriad inner voices that compete for our attention, through meditation, prayer, study of the Bible, through spending time in nature, through journaling, and all the other spiritual practices that still us so that we can truly experience God’s presence and love. The Old Testament gives us clues for the journey to knowing God: in 1 Kings we are told that God’s voice was not in the earthquake or fire or wind[1 Kings 19], but in the “gentle whisper” and the psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46] We have to be quiet ourselves in order to hear God.
We start out so full of ourselves—our thinking, our assumptions, our expectations, our desires—that there is little room for what God wants for us. The journey to hear and to heed God becomes one of emptying ourselves of “our stuff” so that God can fill us with his presence and desires for us.
For quite a long time along the way we may feel that it is on our own initiative that we are reaching towards this experience of God, until we realize that it is not so much our desire to know God that is determinative, although that certainly is important, but that it is God’s desire to know us and to draw us close that actually sets the timing and the steps in the process. God, who created us and knows every hair on our heads, has a step-by-step plan for us to come into the fullness, the wholeness of all that he created each of us to be and to do, if we will only pay attention to the Spirit’s voice within. When we realize this care and comfort and desire for us, we can relax into the arms of God, trusting that we will be lead every step of the way, that everything we need will be there as we need it, that we are loved totally as we are and as we are becoming.
To hear and to heed God’s voice leads us into a life in which we are riding on the wave of God’s giving and blessing, bringing that to everyone we meet. It is to live fully, to express all of who we are potentially, to love, to forgive, to be grateful, to embrace the lives we have been given and all they contain. It is to love the One who not only created us, but who sustains and loves us.