by Judi Chow
Every so often, I receive a telephone call and the person at the other end just starts talking without acknowledging who he or she is. Most of the time, I can recognize the voice and then carry on the conversation. But there are times when I cannot recognize the voice, so I usually just let the other person keep on talking and hope to find some clues from the content. If that doesn’t work, I apologize and admit to the fact I have no idea to whom I am talking, in a nice way. I don’t know about you, but I can only recognize familiar voices, those people I talk to or listen to on a regular basis. One hello, I know it is my mom. One hey, I know it is my sister or my housemate. I can also recognize my favorite preacher’s voice over the radio.
One time I got a call from my coworker while riding the MTR in Hong Kong. I recognized the voice but couldn’t understand a word she was saying. I turned the volume all the way up and pressed the mobile phone even harder against my ear. I only heard noises but couldn’t make out the meaning. Oh, no, am I going deaf already? Then I realized the people all around me were talking loudly to each other or what seemed to me like some people making a public speech into their hands-free mobile phone devices. The ambient noise level inside the MTR is actually quite high and that had overshadowed my coworker’s voice.
I wonder if this can be applied to those people who say they have difficulty hearing God’s call to missionary service. After all, they say today is like the days of Samuel when the word of the Lord was rare. If I remember correctly, the Lord did call Samuel. In fact, He did three times until Eli told Samuel to respond by saying, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (I Samuel 3:9) I am not sure if people are looking for the Apostle Paul’s shinning-light-and-voice-from-heaven kind of calling or maybe as the Lord chose to speak to Elijah – not in the wind, nor in the earthquake or fire, but in a gentle whisper. (I Kings 19)
A friend of mine said, isn’t the Great Commission clear enough a call already? What we really need is enough love to respond to God’s command. To be fair, God did call Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Jonah to Nineveh, and Paul to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. Jesus also called His disciples to follow Him, to be with Him, and to be fishers of men. Remember that small, still whisper? Well, it came to me loud and clear one day during my devotions years ago, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16). I knew that was God’s calling to me; I heard it, I recognize His voice, I understood what He meant, and I responded by offering myself to Him completely. One step at a time, He led me to the road of missionary service. I just have to keep listening, following, and trusting.
God is trying to get our attention in many ways. One thing I am sure, if He speaks to me about a certain thing, He will not say something different to another person regarding the same issue. If you are not familiar with His voice, that “inner voice” or whisper sometimes can be very subjective, and it is necessary to seek confirmation from other Godly people who are familiar with God’s voice. Remember, a whisper by definition is very soft. You cannot hear it from a distance, and it can be overshadowed by other noises. Remember my MTR instance? In order to hear God’s calling, we need to stay close to Him, to know and recognize His voice. I don’t think you will have trouble understanding Him; the bottom line is how would you respond to His calling you?