If I could sit with you, I would tell you that sometimes we can hear God talking and sometimes we can’t. I would tell you that when we hear him talking, you don’t actually hear anything with your ears. I would tell you that you hear it anyway, that is probably isn’t an essay, it’s probably just a couple words. But you know when it’s God.
If I could sit with you, you would ask me how you know for sure. Because, you would say, all the time you have thoughts that you think could be God talking, but you want to be sure they aren’t wishful thinking. Especially when those thoughts are telling you how stupid you are. Especially when those thoughts are too convenient and fun.
Then I would tell you about a shepherd, one that never calls sheep stupid.
Think about a shepherd who spends time around his sheep, talking enough that they know his voice enough to recognize it. They have heard that voice talking to the sheep around them. They have heard that voice talking to assistant shepherds. They have heard that voice talking to them, calling them by name.
How would a sheep be confident about the voice of the shepherd? By knowing that there are strangers who wander by. By knowing that there are hired hands who don’t really care. By knowing that it is important to listen. By spending as much time listening to that voice as possible, listening for tone of voice, for topics, for style of talking, for consistent concern with sheep welfare.
Then I would ask how much time you and I spend actually listening, reading letters, reading stories, being open to hear. We may not hear much, but we will hear more clearly than if we never listen.