Intimacy develops familiarity. You do not even have to turn your head to know who is speaking or calling you, you know the voice so well that you instantly recognize the person. The magic of familiarity. Familiarity grows as intimacy grows. The closer you are to the person, the more familiar you become. You get familiar with his or her smell, the mannerisms, what the facial reactions meant, what silence means, and even those other small things that strangers or other people could not easily recognize. As you grow closer, you know what each other wants, what each other dislikes, and what each other values.
When you have that closeness with God, you also become familiar with His ways. You learn what God wants and what God dislikes. Above all, you recognize His voice. Jesus said,
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27 (WEB)
It is important to note, however, that closeness to God is not seen in just the ability to hear His voice but the action that occurs after hearing God’s voice. God’s sheep who hears His voice follows the voice of God.
Hear God as His people. God’s sheep can recognize the voice of God and at the same time follows the voice of God. To follow God’s voice means to obey God. When these two actions are present, God calls you as His sheep. You are likened to a sheep who knows the voice of its shepherd that it easily recognizes the shepherd and follows the shepherd wherever he directs the sheep to go.
Hearing God’s Word and obedience to it should always come hand in hand.
“But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves.” – James 1:22 (WEB)
Again, God spoke to Prophet Ezekiel concerning Israel,
“They come to you as the people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words, but don’t do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their gain. Behold, you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they don’t do them.” – Ezekiel 33:31-32 (WEB)
Israel are God’s people and they surely acted like it. They seemed to want to listen to what God had to say but it was all lip service because their heart did not truly desire God’s things. They ran after the ways and gains of the world. They heard God’s Word but they did not do them. They did not follow God.
God’s people know His voice and they obey His voice. These are the true sheep of God.
If there are times you cannot hear God’s voice and you find it difficult to follow His voice, do not despair and do not get weary. As a shepherd leads his flock and cares for them, Jesus leads you and cares for you. As you continue to seek Him, He will teach you His ways and guide you as your way grows clearer and His voice becomes stronger than all other voices in your life. The voice of fear, the voice of shame, the voice of guilt, the voice of condemnation, and any other voice that threatens you will all be silenced as you persevere to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. His grace goes with you.