This morning I sat down to pray midday prayer and noticed my mini poodle, Leo, in distress. He was turning his head to the left and then to the right, whining and crying. He was unsettled and disturbed. I then realized this was because I had opened my window on this windy autumn day. I don't typically open my windows because of my allergies, but today I wanted to let in some fresh air.
Leo was not used to these new sounds. There were noises he did not understand. The rustle of the Fall leaves was foreign to him. There were sights he did not understand. The plants in the room were moving in the breeze, which they usually do not do. There were smells he did not understand; the crisp air carried the smells of wet leaves and pollen that had not been around since last year. Everything about this experience was disorienting for him. And because it was disorienting, new, and unfamiliar, Leo responded in fear.
Many times, we wonder how we can hear the voice of God? How do we know our own thoughts from His? How do we know if it is the enemy? These are questions people have asked for ages and ones I feel we will keep asking our whole lives, and so we should.
I can cite the usual answers: test what you feel God said or is leading you to with His Word, seek the counsel of others, does the voice sound loving or condemning /hopeful or hopeless/ peaceful or causing an emotional spiral, is the feeling being confirmed and repeated?
All of these are beautiful ways to know if what you are being led to do or are sensing is you, the enemy, or the Lord.
But the truth of the matter is that when we hear/sense the voice of God, it can sound new, feel different, and be disorienting. This leads to fear, and sometimes it feels safer to return to the question of "was that God?" than it is to act. There are times when the question we should be asking is not, how do we discern the voice of God? but rather - are we willing to move when we do? It's not always that we don't trust that we hear the Shepherd's voice, but rather that when we do, we paralyze ourselves in fear rather than follow Him to places we don't understand.
Discernment feels safer than movement.
God's voice often calls us to a change. It calls us to something new, something we could not have dreamed up on our own. It requires that we tune our ears to change, grow, commit, and move a little more like the wind. Trusting in God to hold us in the movement rather than keeping ourselves secure in the stagnation.
As finite humans, we feel most secure when things are predictable, secure, and stagnant. It is where we feel safe, protected, and confident. Yet God is always inviting us to movement, greater commitment, eyes of faith, and further dependence on His voice, moment by moment.
Let's take a lesson from the wind of God. Be ready to hear. Be ready to move. Be ready to say "yes" to the new and, like Leo, begin to move from fear to embracing the wonders of our God with joy.