When we think about God’s voice, do the Old Testament images come to mind? Do we think only about the prophets of old who seemed able to perceive God’s voice directly? That was then; this is now. God doesn’t speak out loud to people anymore.
Or does he? Perhaps he doesn’t come swooping down on us, shaking us with his big, booming voice. But he does speak to us in the voices of the people and occurrences around us. He speaks to us through those who have authority over us and those over whom we have authority, through those who support us and those who defy us, through those who we admire and those who we disdain, through those for whom we care and those who care for us. He speaks to us in the wee, small voice deep inside that we often ignore.
Let me give you a very small example. On Wednesday nights, there’s a Mass at the Schoenstatt Marian Shrine closest to my home. I used to go regularly, rarely missing at week. For the past several months, it seems, something has come up every single Wednesday that prohibited me from going. In my willfulness, I’d often succumb to the grouchiness and pouting so characteristic of my temperament.
Yesterday I decided that I was going to make sure the way was clear for me to go. I pushed ahead on my work, prepared supper way ahead of time, and mentally readied myself to go. Then my husband came home sick from work. Really sick. Saint that he is, he told me to just go to Mass anyway but I knew that I couldn’t. If I went, he’d be home miserable and our youngest son would be stuck with the after-supper clean-up. Even though both of them insisted I should go, I didn’t. I couldn’t. There was a little “ping” in my heart that told me my place was at home last night. Yes, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives. Yes, there is no substitute for receiving our Lord in his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. However, my role first and foremost is as wife and mother. My job is to care for the Christ in my husband and children. My calling is to serve them first and then myself.
So, I didn’t go to Mass.
Instead, I made a Spiritual Communion, cared for my husband, relieved my son of his duties, cleared the table, washed the dishes, and felt my heart lighten in knowing I’d made the right decision by listening to the voice of God through my spouse, my son, and within myself.
As I was working on dishes, we saw a car pull up in front of the house. With great joy, I saw that it was our daughter, who now lives on her own. Because of work and school, her visits are infrequent and often hurried, and so we appreciate every minute we have with her. Still, she makes the sacrifice to drop in whenever she can in spite of her over-burdened schedule. What’s more, last night she was feeling sick and dragged-out from the virus that’s been going around here lately and that gave me the opportunity to do a little extra “mommy-ing” for her. Not that I enjoy seeing my kids sick, but I do love to be able to offer them added TLC when I can, especially as they grow older and begin to need me less and less.
It seems God was rewarding my decision by affirming that I’d listened to his voice correctly. As I reflected on this later on, I was reminded of Jeremiah’s words:
Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.
When we put our own willfulness aside and listen to God’s voice, we will prosper. It may be something as simple as knowing we’ve made the right decision or it may be something much grander and far-reaching. Either way, we can be assured that, when we listen to his voice, he will surely be our God and we will be his people.
(© 2011 Marge Fenelon)