We are all broken, therefore, it is hard to hear God’s voice sometimes. There are two kinds of broken. If we can determine which type of broken we are, we can better diagnose our situation.
My family follows college football (Roll Tide!). While living in Sacramento, we returned home from a Christmas vacation spent with family in Alabama. The Crimson Tide was playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game and we intentionally came home on New Year’s Eve Day so we could watch the game the next day. I vividly remember getting home, bringing in luggage and finally settling down in front of the TV. I pressed the power button and an Error page popped up on my screen. It said something like “Error ####: No signal.” At the time we were using a satellite dish provider.
Try to imagine the angst this moment created. We had just flown over 2000 miles on a holiday so we could be home TO WATCH THE GAME! On top of that, what were the chances a repairman would be available ON NEW YEAR’S EVE DAY? All I wanted to do for the next 48 hours was binge on college football and end it by watching my favorite team, but all I was receiving was an error message.
Hearing God’s voice can be like this. All we want is a little guidance…a little hope…some encouragement…some reassurance that we are not monumentally messing up our lives. At times it would be nice to hear from Him and know He is there.
Like coming home and grabbing the remote, we do what we know to do to receive a signal from far away. We might fold our hands, bow our head or close our eyes before we start talking. We might recall a prayer we learned as a child or got off a bumper sticker. Those who call themselves Christians might recite the Lord’s Prayer or open their Bible searching for words that will satisfy as God’s voice. They may even pull out the big guns and close their prayer by saying, “In Jesus’ name I pray.” But for many, both the novice and the expert, what they feel in that moment is what I saw on my TV screen: “Error ####: No signal.”
To my surprise, I did get a satellite repairman to my house that day. When he arrived, I hustled him into my living room so he could see the error message. As he began his diagnoses I learned something; satellite dishes have two kinds of broken.
The first kind of broken is an equipment issue. The satellite dish receives an encrypted signal from an orbiting satellite. The signal moves through a cable to the box near the TV called a receiver. The receiver decodes the signal and sends it through another cable that is connected to the back of the TV. The TV then displays the signal allowing us to see images and hear sounds that are being transmitted from space. If the satellite dish, the receiver, or any of the cables and their connection points has failed, then the TV receives an error message. Finding and replacing the failed equipment is the only way to repair this kind of broken.
The second kind of broken creates the same error message, but it has nothing to do with faulty equipment. It has to do with the environment. The error message could be the result of a misaligned satellite dish, bad weather or an object blocking the reception of the signal. The repairman explained there might be nothing wrong with my equipment. A tree limb could be blocking the field of reception. Kids throwing a Frisbee could have hit my satellite dish and misaligned it. The weather was fine that day, but if it had been storming I would have gotten the same error message.
When all we feel is an error message from God, it is usually either an equipment issue or an environment issue. The most important piece of equipment to hear God’s voice is the heart. It both receives and decodes God’s voice. I’m not talking about the muscle that pumps blood. I’m talking about your mind, soul, and spirit, your inner-self that is uniquely you. If our heart is broken, it is extremely difficult to hear God’s voice. The heart cannot be repaired. It can only be replaced. God speaking on this matter said it this way:
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.1
We will discover how to get a new heart in some other blogs, but when our heart is broken the only message we can receive is an error message…but THAT is God’s voice.
If your heart is working and you still can’t hear God’s voice, it is an environment problem. Multiple things can block your reception or misalign your heart (not forgiving someone, willful disobedience to God, disappointment, failure, temptation…just to name a few). Only one thing removes obstacles and realigns the heart: trust. When our trust fails, we will get an error message. Trust is a heart issue. The wisest man who ever lived said this of trusting the Lord:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.2
When we are committed to trusting the Lord then our heart is in the right place and we will hear from God (however, we can’t make God speak to us nor do we know when He will speak…more on that later).
The satellite repairman ran his tests and determined my receiver was broken. He replaced it with a new one and the error message went away.
If you are not hearing God’s voice, which type of broken are you?