I don’t see dead people.
But I hear voices. Or, perhaps I should say, I hear ‘the Voice’.
Take your hand away from the phone. Don’t be calling the guys in the white jackets just yet.
But I’m serious. I hear the voice that we all hear. The voice that says, “That’s not really true.” I hear the voice of doubt.
I’m not saying that the Voice is audible and I’m not saying that the Voice is welcome. But I would be lying if I said that I was a stranger to the Voice.
The Voice is annoying when I’m praying. It whispers to me that praying is a waste of time, that there is no God to hear me, that to imagine him hearing and responding to the prayers of a billion people is just fantasy. I do my best to ignore it and to remember that a man once, who rose again from the dead, found that prayer was very important.
The Voice is threatening when I’m traumatized. It speaks questions to my heart challenging the claims of the love of this one whom we call God. It is quite the logical voice, speaking in propositions which begin with some variation of “If this God was real…” or “If this God really loved you….” Like Christian fleeing the city of destruction, all I can do sometimes is put my hands over my ears and try my best not to listen.
But, I confess, I sometimes am taken in. I believe the Voice. I want to believe the Voice. I want to be led beside waters of self pity and to wallow in the muddy fields of rotten luck. I give into the Voice for a time, but somehow I always emerge. Someone comes along and says, unknowingly, and in so many words, “What are you doing there?”
I long for the day when the Voice is silenced. When his threatening tones are no more. When try as I might, I won’t be able to hear. When the only voice I will hear will be that of a Good Shepherd.
But until then, I’ll still hear the Voice. I’m comforted that others have heard the Voice and persevered – Spurgeon, Luther, John the Baptist, and our patron saint, Thomas. And I’m grateful to be and to have been in churches where people are honest enough to admit that they hear and listen to the Voice. Such honesty helps me realize that the Voice has no real substance and his logic no real basis.
But still, I listen. And I grieve for those who find no outlet to admit what they hear and how they struggle. In sympathy, a man has put together an online group called Doubters Annonymous [via Justin Taylor] and this is a good and courageous thing. I’m just sad that such cannot be admitted openly in the church. I’m sad that anonymity seems necessary.
In hearing the Voice, I figure I’m in good company. Like everyone. I also know that there are answers to every question the Voice throws at me. Just sometimes I’m not in a frame of mind to hear those answers. I just need to be loved and embraced and supported.
But I also know that Jesus died and rose again. For hearers of the Voice. It’s His voice, then, that I strive to hear above the din.
And I do. But often I hear it through the means of fellow pilgrims. And for them, I’m grateful.
One thought on “Hearing the Voice”
I’ve heard the shrill voice of doubt: “God won’t love you because…” or “Do you really believe…?” It’s the accuser.
Then Jesus in a quiet voice – like a mother lowering her voice so her children will pay attention to hear her – says, “I will never leave you”; or, “Nothing can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Then comes mercy, peace, and love, multiplied. Cf Jude 2
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