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Knowing Jesus and His voice
by: Jeff Herringshaw
The first three of YWAM’s Foundational Values are 1) Know God; 2) Make God Known; 3) Hear God’s Voice. These are truly foundational to any meaningful connection with God. They work together to provide a picture of what it takes to have a living, intimate relationship with our Maker and Savior.
Jesus, whom we are told is the “visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) clearly expects those who follow Him to listen for and respond to His voice. Using the metaphor of a shepherd, He says in the Gospel of John, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
But how is this done? I’ve heard this question often. When I’m praying, how do I know the difference between what are merely my thoughts and what is the actual voice of Jesus? There are lots of “voices” that go through our heads at times – some condemning, some prideful, some self-serving. The answer to the question, however, is similar to the way you distinguish between the voice of your mother or good friend and the voice of a stranger. You just know that voice because it’s so familiar. Yes! It’s because you’ve been listening to them for so long. But that’s only part of recognizing who’s speaking.
You also know the “voice” of your family member or friend according to your experience with his or her character – what that person would or would not say or do that fits with who you know him or her to be. There are some things I am certain would never come from my wife’s mouth, even if others told me that she had said them. I know her that well.
Awhile back, I read a news article that illustrates this.
A young girl was walking home from school one afternoon when a car pulled up beside her and a man rolled down the window. He called her name, telling her that he worked with her mom who had just been in an accident and was being rushed to the hospital. She had asked the man to pick her daughter up from school and bring her to the hospital immediately.
The child was gripped with panic, tears in her eyes as she ran over to the rear door of the car that had been opened for her. Then she stopped. “What is my mother’s name?” she asked with a shaky voice. The man looked at her blankly for a moment, frowned and then hurriedly opened his door to get out of the car. But the girl was already running down the sidewalk back toward the school. The man followed a few steps but quickly returned to his vehicle and drove off.
School officials called the police and the child was soon with her mother who had been at work the entire day and was fine. It was pointed out that the girl had her name written in bold letters across her backpack, easy for someone to talk as if he knew her. But the police were curious to determine what had caused the child to stop and not get in the predator’s vehicle. Her answer was simple: her mom had told her to never get into a car with a stranger. She knew her mother well enough to believe that even in an apparent emergency situation, the woman who loved her would send someone the girl was familiar with to pick her up. The child’s knowledge of her mother’s “voice” had saved her life.
How do we know the voice of Jesus? We start by getting to know His character. What does the Bible reveal about who He is? What does He value? What do His actions that are recorded in scripture tell us about His goodness? His goals? What are some of the things He would never say because such things don’t fit who He is? We can then measure anything we “hear” as we pray against what we have reason to believe to be true about the identity and character of our Good Shepherd, Jesus. This then becomes the foundation for intimately knowing Him and as a result, rightly making Him known.
Jesus is speaking. Do you know Him? Are you listening?