How Does God Talk?

 I hear voices.

You hear voices, too.

Most of the time these voices are echoes of the past.

Something my mother told me.

Something my father once said.

Then there’s that tiny voice inside my head that wants to speak for me. It tries to keep me bottled up in shame.

“Remember when you ______________”

We can all fill-in the blank with our defeats and sorrows. We can listen to the tiny voice of hopelessness that tells us we can never change. We even incorporate it into our own voice. Then we have a hard time deciphering who’s speaking—us or the voice of accusation. We centralize its message of doom. We fall for its lies, allowing it to drown out the voice of God.

Richard Rohr writes, “Shaming, accusing, or blaming is simply not how God talks. It is how we talk.”[1] This is why hearing God’s voice becomes so important to our soul work. We need to follow the voice that encourages. For God never speaks from a place of accusation or fear. He never makes us feel inadequate.

Christ said, “Do not fear,” more than any other phrase. He said it before and after his Resurrection. He’s still saying it today.

But what we hear is the tiny voice that tells us, “You can’t trust that voice. Christ doesn’t care about a failure like you. He speaks to those who deserve it.” The elder brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son believed this when he accused the father of throwing a party for a loser (Luke 15:30). Just imagine how hard it was for the prodigal to hear his father’s voice of forgiveness.

And I’ve always wondered why Christ asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” You would think Christ would’ve said, “I love you,” three times (John 21:15)—if this is indeed the moment when Christ redeemed Peter from his denial.

We all have our rooster crows—those moments when we’ve failed to live our best. So, let’s think about Christ’s question, “Do you love me?” Why did Peter need this question, and do we need to hear it for ourselves?

Why does Peter’s failure need to speak of love? Why the voice of confession?

When the voice of accusation becomes stronger than God’s voice inside our heads, then the way to silence the voice of accusation is to allow the heart to speak.

Try it.

Try confessing your love for Christ while listening to the voice of accusation.

It can’t be done.

Confessing our love for Christ silences the voice of accusation. It takes the focus off of self. It puts love for Christ at the center, allowing us to hear God talk. Peter could not hear, “Feed my sheep,” while he fed his shame. Once Peter spoke, he could hear.

Are you allowing the tiny voice of accusation to speak louder than the mighty voice of love? Then confess your love to Christ. And keep on confessing. Gush, if you want. Just keep at it until you receive the ears that hear the voice of love over the voice of accusation. For God hasn’t stopped speaking.

A holy man once told Richard Rohr, “We must listen to what is supporting us. We must listen to what is encouraging us. We must listen to what is urging us. We must listen to what is alive in us.”[2]

This is how God talks.

[1] Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, (New York: Convergent, 2019), 89.

[2] Ibid., 88-89.

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