“Oceans will part, nations come, at the whisper of Your call.
Hope will rise, glory shown, in my life Your will be done.”- Hillsong United
“When you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ “- Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)
Upon arriving in Alaska for a two-week group tour led by my wife Vicki, we traveled from Anchorage to Seward for a cruise featuring close-up views of Alaskan wildlife and glaciers. Before arriving at the glaciers, we encountered sea otters floating on their backs, many birds, and the menacing fin of a killer whale. As the cruise vessel came within a block or so of the glaciers, the captain instructed us to maintain silence. The sound of silence enabled us to fully experience the firecracker intonation of the glacier calving.
Pastor Bill Hybels describes the relational nature of faith in The Power of a Whisper. When we speak through prayer, God listens. On the other hand, when God speaks through His whispers, we listen. We serve a communicating God. Therefore, the real issue concerns whether we have ears to hear what He says.
Most noteworthy, Pastor Hybels emphasizes, hearing God’s whispers requires a receptive heart:
“There is no more critical goal in life than to keep a pliable heart before God. God cannot be seen by spiritual eyes that are shut. God cannot be heard by spiritual ears that are plugged.”
Listening to the glacier calving necessitated bridling the gift of gab. Similarly, sacrificial obedience to God’s whisper runs contrary to human nature. In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul encourages us to have the same attitude of mind as Christ Jesus, “taking the very nature of a servant (v. 7).” Left to our own devices, we default to ‘clutchers’ mode. Yet, God counters this potent, pervasive human instinct, calling us to be relinquishers.
Especially in the context of tougher promptings from God, we must seek to be relinquishers, not clutchers. Specifically, almost every time we hear God’s whisper, most likely something safe or predictable must go. But God opens our eyes to see the work of His hands.
As a second grader at a Christian school in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bill received the following poem from his teacher. She’d kept the hymn “Samuel” by James Drummond Burns (1823-64) in her desk drawer. May the word reflect our witness to God’s whisper:
“Oh! Give me Samuel’s ear, an open ear, O Lord,
Alive and quick to hear each whisper of Thy Word;
Like him to answer to Thy call and to obey Thee first of all.”