There are people in our lives whom we would know from a mile away. We can tell it’s them the minute we hear their voice on the phone or around the corner; there’s no question in our minds. Then, there are people in our lives whom we have trouble recognizing. Maybe they have an indistinct voice; maybe they speak quietly or not very often. When we hear them, we question whether we’re truly hearing them or we’re hearing them correctly.
We often feel that way about God. Psalm 29 says, “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. … The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness” (verses 4, 6). But how many of us have actually heard the voice of God and known it to be God? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? We don’t usually hear a loud voice out of the sky that sets the earth on fire or shakes the ground. Usually, the voice of God – the Spirit that speaks to us – is more subtle. It’s quiet. And it doesn’t seem to speak to us very often.
One way we can be sure of God’s voice is to ask others around us. We can ask them to “test” the Spirit we seem to be hearing. If they assure us that yes, the voice we’re hearing or the nudge we’re feeling seems to be consistent with Scripture, then we can be surer of what we’re hearing. For example, in Acts 2, Peter is assuring his listeners that when they heard Jesus of Nazareth speak, they were indeed hearing the voice of God – and he uses Scripture to back up his assertion.
The people in our lives who can “test” the Spirit we hear are a gift from God. They help us grow closer to God through recognition of what is God’s voice and what isn’t. We can celebrate this gift by listening to the Spirit’s voice when we hear it, and disregarding other voices who are trying to lead us astray.