Are you familiar with a man by the name of Paul Marcarelli? No? You likely know his work, if not his name. In 2001, Marcarelli etched his way into the memories of millions of Americans with five simple words. Paul Marcarelli made famous the catch phrase “Can you hear me now?” for his previous employer, Verizon. He now cashes in on consumer’s memory of that phrase in his new gig with Sprint. A struggling actor in 2001, his fortunes turned on that now familiar question, aimed at making sure cell phone owners knew who was better at helping them to effectively use their phones. I suspect in moments of uncertainty of reception while on our cell phones, we’ve all asked that now celebrated question: “Can you hear me now?”
I wonder how many times the question could have been asked of us by Heaven? For years, I assumed prayer was a one-way-street. I talked. God listened. Thankfully, I learned that prayer wasn’t meant to be a monologue, but rather a dialogue. While I’ve never heard God speak audibly – as He did in the Scriptures – I believe He still can. I can remember hearing Dr. Charles Stanley say: “Just because He hasn’t spoken audibly to me doesn’t mean He can’t.” Think about it for moment with me. How often do we listen for the “voice” of God? Did you know He still speaks today? God speaks to us through His Spirit, His Word, His people, and from the circumstances of our lives. While not an exhaustive list, I wanted to mention a few of the ways we can hear God.
Hearing God has always been a critical component of man’s relationship with God. From God’s instructions to Adam in the Garden of Eden, to God speaking with Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11), to the voice of God at the baptism of Jesus declaring “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17), to the wonderful promise made by the Son of God who declared, “surely I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:20), God has clearly spoken throughout His Word. In fact, that critical component of hearing God was ingrained in the Jewish community. In the book of Deuteronomy, there’s a proclamation that would prove instrumental in Israel remembering their unique relationship with God. Listen (get it?) to these words of God as delivered by Moses: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). What makes this passage so special is the first word: “Hear.” The word translated “hear” is in the Hebrew word “shama” which means to perceive with the ear, to listen to, to obey. In the Jewish community, the passage would become known as The Shema. It became a confession of faith that was to be recited in the morning, and at the close of the day. This would be in keeping with God’s command to speak this truth “when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
God is serious about keeping the lines of communication open with His people. And listening to the voice of the Lord is to be paramount in the believer’s relationship with the Father. So significant was this idea of listening to the voice of the Lord that Jesus made what (for me) has become an endearing statement: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). Shepherding in the first century was a familiar task. So familiar, in fact, that Jesus declares Himself to be the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). On many occasions, the first century shepherd would often combine his sheep with the sheep of other shepherds in a common corral. When it came time to depart, the shepherd would stand at the gate of the corral and call out to his sheep. Their familiarity with his voice would compel them to follow him. Over time, there was a measure of trust that sheep would develop in their shepherd. The shepherd’s voice was one they knew very well.
The lesson is simple. As our Shepherd, we must listen to His voice. As our Father, we must listen to the voice of our God. Notice the promise that follows the words of Jesus in John 10: “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28). That alone, makes listening for His voice worth the effort.
Can you hear Him now?