“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” – John 10:27 (ASV).
Friend To Friend
Dan and I had been married one year when we moved to Fort Worth, Texas so he could attend seminary. I desperately wanted but could not find a school teaching job. Instead, I was hired to work in an insurance office – definitely not my idea of a dream job – but I had a plan. Every day, on my lunch hour, I called the school district’s personnel office to ask, “Do you have a job for me yet?”
After several weeks of these annoying phone calls, a frustrated voice finally responded with the words I had been longing to hear, “Mary, will you teach anything anywhere?” Finally! I jumped at the job offer and made an appointment to visit my new classroom that afternoon. The principal escorted me up a flight of stairs, pointed to a door and said, “That’s your classroom. Good luck!” With a knowing smile, he turned and walked away … very quickly. Hmmm, interesting!
Stepping into the classroom, I froze at the astonishing sight before me. Children were jumping on desks while others crawled under tables, all screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs. Paper and food littered the floor. In the corner sat an obviously frazzled substitute teacher who was desperately trying to gain control of her students … uh, make that my students. The classroom was in total chaos! My first thought was “What have I gotten myself into?” The next few weeks certainly answered that question.
Each classroom was arranged in learning centers instead of desks. The students moved from center to center as they completed assignments, a plan that naturally invited noise. I learned that because of overcrowding, each teacher had been asked to select two children to form a new classroom and, of course, each teacher had chosen her two most difficult students to populate the new class.
The first few weeks were a nightmarish battle for control. After losing my voice twice, my sister, a veteran first grade teacher, gave me some great advice as she explained, “The louder you are, the louder the children will be. If you want to get their attention, speak softly so they will have to be quiet in order to hear your voice.” I put her advice into action the next day.
As the children entered the classroom, I greeted each one with a silent smile. In my hands was a brightly wrapped box. Curious, they asked, “What is that, Mrs. Southerland?” I merely smiled and said nothing until every student was quietly seated. “I have a new plan for our classroom,” I began. “Sometime during the day, I will call your name once. If you hear my voice, you may choose one prize from our new prize box. If you don’t hear my voice, you’ll miss the opportunity to select a prize and I will call another student’s name.” It worked like a charm! In a matter of days, my students learned to listen for my voice above all others.
It occurs to me that listening for the voice of God when I pray is a lot like that classroom. The children had not been trained to listen for a teacher’s voice. The result was chaos and stress – with very little learning happening. I could not teach them anything until I had their attention, so when they began to tune out everyone’s voice but mine, the atmosphere of that classroom was transformed into a peaceful, quiet place where students could focus and learn.
Is your heart trained to come to God in prayer, listening for His voice above all others? The only voice that matters is His. Come to Him in prayer. Listen as He speaks to you. He is waiting.
Father, sometimes it seems as if my head and heart are filled with voices and each one is telling me something different. Help me learn to hear Your voice, to stop and listen for You above every other voice clamoring for my attention. I will seek You in the Scripture. will seek You in prayer and in my daily walk. I am listening today for Your voice alone.
In Jesus’s name, amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
- Make a list of three “voices” that are frequently heard in your life.
- Examine each voice to see if it lines up with God’s plan and purpose for your life.
- Strengthen your ability to hear God’s voice above the others by reading and memorizing Scripture. Below are a few of my favorites:
Psalm 32:8 “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
Exodus 14:13 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”