The other night I dreamed about a voice.
The voice told me everything I wanted to know. Go this way; it will lead to success. Try this out; it will make you feel great. Do you want to know the secret? Lean in close; I will tell you. The voice spoke silently in my mind, was audible in my house, and directed my life. It was a strange voice, one I didn’t recognize. The voice made me feel like everything was going to be okay.
It was an eerie sensation, yet I wasn’t afraid. The voice promised me that life was about to get abundantly better, that I hit some sort of cosmic jackpot without even playing the lottery. It gave me everything I wanted but didn’t ask for or deserve.
I had things that made life easier, knew things about the future that made me worry less.
Then, just I was beginning to get used to the idea of a life like this, just as I realized that if I followed this voice I would have everything, I felt a hint of dread in the bottom of my heart. Something wasn’t right.
I began to question the voice, and distrusted it. Although it was friendly, it was still strange. I didn’t know it, didn’t know what the motives were. I had the feeling that soon I’d be expected to give something I wasn’t prepared to give, that something bigger than the ease of life was brewing under the surface. Something sinister.
Suddenly, there was another voice. It told me to wake up.
I came to almost-consciousness with the same feelings of fear and dread when waking from a nightmare, and as I was half in, half out of the dream, I prayed.
I asked Jesus to get rid of the voice within this dream. Within seconds, the heavy feelings vanished, and I went back to sleep.
As a kid I was scared of spooky things. We lived in an old farmhouse that had seen several generations, and I loved a grandfather who died before his time. I had seen my share of ghost stories on TV and in the movies, read enough stories that gave me chills. I was afraid of apparitions, disembodied voices, floating specters, and figured our old house was a prime place for all of them to hang out together. At night, I raced up the stairs to my room and leaped onto the bed to outrun any spirits that might follow me there. I prayed to God that if ghosts are real, that they leave me alone.
So it wasn’t a shock that when waking from a dream where a voice spoke to me out of thin air, I would feel spooked. Even today I wouldn’t welcome a ghost sighting, and hearing things is on the top of my list of undesirable events. It was more than just a leftover feeling from my childhood, though.
It was that this voice would so easily lure me into thinking that I could have it all, that I deserved it all. And that I knew, even in my dream state, that this is wrong.
As a Christian I have heard my share of “God spoke to me” stories. “God spoke to me as clear as day,” people say when sharing their faith. “I knew what he wanted me to do.” “I heard a voice that said ‘stop,’ ‘go,’ ‘turn around,’ ‘it will be okay.’”
I’ve never had this experience. God has not spoken to me audibly; I wonder if given my past fears about the spirit world, that so far he has chosen different ways of guiding me. However, if he chooses to speak to me directly, I trust that I will know that it is him.
The voice of God is distinct, and yet we can confuse it with the voices of our own desires. When we contemplate our direction, we can hear the voices that call to us – they are heard and discerned within our hearts, in the ways we feel. Are we comforted by the way we are led, or do we hesitate? Following God’s voice is always the right thing to do, and although it may be something that we’ve never done before, we will know when we are doing his will if we ask for his help in discernment. We can trust that he will bring us down the right path, the one he laid out for us even before we were born.
We can trust God’s voice, every time.
The Lord your God will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. Deuteronomy 30:10 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:1-10 (NLT)