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Minister’s Message: The sound of God’s voice

In all my desperate prayers, I sometimes forget that God has spoken definitively already

I grew up in Texas. Which means I grew up around thunderstorms. Thunder so loud it would rattle your teeth. Lightening like the angels were throwing a disco party. I used to startle awake at night because the house would shake with the sound. When that happened, I recall finding comfort in imagining it was the sound of God’s voice speaking to the earth.

Maybe it’s silly. Or maybe I desperately wanted to hear the sound of God’s voice. More than once I have prayed longing prayers to the tune of: “if You’re up there, if You care, if You see me… say something! Anything!”

I want to know I’m not alone in the hardships of life. I desire some divine assurance that my decisions are good and are not going to lead to regret and dire consequences. “A little heavenly guidance via some audible sign would be greatly appreciated, God!”

In John 12 there’s a story about God speaking from heaven, affirming the words that Jesus is sharing with the crowd in front of him. When the crowd hears it, though, some think it is thunder while others reckon it is angels talking to Jesus. But it’s clear that none of them really know what to make of it.

Which is ironic, because Jesus tells them that this voice from heaven “has come for your sake, not for mine.” God finally breaks the audible silence He seems so fond of keeping and the crowd misses it completely! The irony gets laid on even thicker for those who recognize Jesus as God’s Son, which means this crowd has been listening to God speak the whole time. However, it is doubtful they caught on to what Jesus was saying either.

Because what Jesus was talking about was a rather backward notion of glory; a way of living that entailed selfless love, power expressed through service, and the death of self that would lead to a fruitful life. Jesus says that, regardless of how the world might define it otherwise, this is what true glory looks like. God chimes in from heaven to confirm that such love and obedience as Jesus expresses is indeed how His name is glorified.

In all my desperate prayers, I sometimes forget that God has spoken definitively already. When I get turned around by the self-serving values of our culture, I am reminded that God’s voice sounds a different tone of what glory entails. When I need guidance for what is right and good and true, I can look to my brothers and sisters in faith who embody selfless service for the sake of others. When I want clarity, I can listen to the Word made flesh, the Word spoken for my sake.

The best part about it is that I don’t even need to wait for a storm in order to hear what God has to say. Good thing, too. Because here in Alaska, I’d be waiting a long time.

Joshua Gorenflo and his wife, Kya, are ministers at Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 on the Kenai Spur Highway. Worship is 11 a.m. on Sundays. Streamed live at kenaifellowship.com.

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