A sudden gust of wind rushes through the air. The clouds part to reveal a blue sky and a bright light shines down on you from above. In the middle of the blue sky, a soft face smiles at you. From that face, a deep voice says, “Go, spread my Word and join this order. Serve others as my Son served you.” A feeling of inspiration overcomes you. You feel as though all of your questions have been answered and there is no doubt in your future.
When I was younger, this is how I imagined God speaking to me would happen. I thought that time would freeze and God would display a huge gesture to tell me what I was supposed to do with my life. When I read Bible passages and saint stories, it seemed like all the people in the stories heard God’s literal voice after a bright light shined or the clouds parted. This seemed so surreal and I could not fathom it happening in this day and age. However, I now know that there does not have to be extraordinary lights and wind to hear God’s voice.
When I first heard God’s voice, I was sitting in the car in a dark parking lot. I was waiting for my sister to come back out with our pizza when I felt a rush of happiness as a picture of my future filled my mind. The need to spread God’s love and kindness had recently become the center of my everyday life; I wanted to make everyone feel welcomed, cared for, and wanted. Sitting in the dark car, I felt God’s presence when I suddenly imagined a future where I could do this for a living, and even incorporate my passion for writing. I felt called to travel around the world, build relationships with the people around me, and serve others by being kind to them and giving them hope. I could then write about the people I meet, my experiences, and how big of an impact a simple act of kindness could have. God spoke to me and called me to use the gifts He gave me for the good of others. There were not any bright lights, deep voices, or sudden gusts of wind. There was just me, sitting patiently in the dark, waiting for pizza.
I was moved to tears when I realized what had just happened. I had just heard God’s voice. An extraordinary thing had happened in an ordinary way. In 1 Kings 19:9-13, it is said that the prophet Elijah was searching for God while running for his life. A strong wind rushed around him, but Elijah did not hear God’s voice through the wind, as he thought he would. Elijah then witnessed an earthquake, and then a fire, but his search for God’s voice in either of these was fruitless. Then he heard a “light silent sound,” and hid his face with his cloak because he knew that he would hear the Lord’s voice in this silent sound. The Lord spoke to Elijah in this small voice. Though Elijah was searching for God’s voice in the extravagant occurrences of wind, fire, and earthquakes, he found God in a small and calm sound. This passage from 1 Kings teaches us that we can find and hear God in seemingly insignificant ways; we just need to be patient and willing to listen.
I thought that hearing God’s voice would be an experience that only happened once in a lifetime. Then, a couple of months later, someone told me that a thought randomly popping into your head may be God speaking to you. The thought could be about something completely random, but if you reflect on it, you can hear a message God is trying to tell you. For example, say a memory of you and your childhood best friend riding bikes together pops into your head one day. If you reflect on the memory and dig deep into its meaning, you may find that God is trying to speak to you. You and the friend you were riding bikes with grew apart and have not spoken to each other in years, but you recently heard that they had strayed away from the Church. God may be calling you to reach out to your old friend and bring Christ’s light back into their life. As Elijah took the time to reflect on the silent sound in which he heard God’s voice, we can hear God in the smallest sounds or memories. It can be as simple as reflecting on an ostensibly frivolous occurrence.
Hearing God’s voice does not have to happen in an extraordinary way. It is not as complicated or out-of-this-world as it may seem in the Bible or in saint stories. Elijah found God in a silent sound, and so can we. He may speak to some people using big and bright gestures, and one day, you may have one of those extravagant experiences, but that is not the only way to hear God’s voice. God speaks to all of His children in different ways. You may wonder how God speaks to you, and that is for you to determine. He may speak to you through other people, through experiences, or through your thoughts. We just have to open our hearts and be willing to listen. What is God trying to tell you?