I spent years working at a mall store – every holiday season dealing with the crush of people and the sales and the returns. I’m still in recovery.
And then the internet happened. Hallelujah! Glory be! No more mall shopping for me.
But a few years back, I had to do it. I had to go to the mall during holiday shopping season. It pained me. I walked into the sensory overload of the cosmetics department. (It’s a trade-off really. Easiest place to park and easiest way to remember where I’ve parked, but requiring me to navigate all the smells.)
On this day – ugh – I actually needed something from that department, so there was no mad dash past the counters and the scents and the “do you want to try this?” Nope. I had to stand there.
And because sensory overload of scent and sight aren’t enough, there was music playing from every counter plus what was coming from the store system. S.E.V.E.N. There were 7 different songs playing that day. Now, I’m a huge fan of holiday music, but maybe not all the songs all at once. Plus I couldn’t hear the girl behind the counter.
Sometimes, the inside of my head is just like that smelly, cacophonous, cosmetics department. All that noise. With all the thoughts all at once, it’s hard to distinguish one thing from another. It’s hard to separate out truth from lies. It’s even more difficult to hear God’s voice.
How can we tell? How do we untangle all the tunes? All the external noise. All the internal to-do lists and worries. All the “should haves.” All the “what ifs.”
I saw a version of this graphic on the web, and it resonated with what I’ve learned to be true about God’s voice. Unfortunately, it didn’t have any scriptural backup, so I did some concordancing (I just made concordance a verb! and now it has ‘dancing’ in it so there’s that.) These verses have helped me to better pick out God’s voice amid the hustle of life. Maybe they can help you too.
- God’s voice calms; it doesn’t obsess.
Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
1 Kings 19:12: And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 (MSG): The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.
- It comforts; it doesn’t worry.
Psalm 23:4: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
- It convicts; it doesn’t condemn.
John 3:17: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
- It encourages; it doesn’t discourage.
Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- God’s voice enlightens; it doesn’t confuse.
John 14:26: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
1 Corinthians 14:33: For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
- It leads; it doesn’t push.
Isaiah 30:21: And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
- It reassures; it doesn’t frighten.
John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Isaiah 41:10: fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- It stills; it doesn’t rush
Psalm 107:29-30: He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.
Psalm 18:30: This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
What about you? Do you have favorite verses that help you discern the voice of God?
**All verses listed are ESV unless otherwise noted**