Over 20 years ago an elderly pastor suggested to me that he believed that God was trying to speak with us all the time but our minds are so full of noise that we can’t hear Him. I’ve often thought about those words, especially when the only time I found I was hearing God’s voice was as I drove along the road and my mind was switched off from the stories I was telling myself – my own vivid imagination, what I had been taught about God, the opinions of those surrounding me, the experiences of my past and the influences of my expectations, fears and dreams.
Much of the time those stories we listen to are hurtful to us. They are not only untrue but they are destructive to our lives and our relationship with God.
One helpful way to look at how you are thinking is to stop every time you have an emotional reaction. I am injured at the shop assistant who overlooks me and serves others. I make it mean that I am not worth serving. The doctor is angry when I remind him of a detail he’d overlooked. His story to himself is that I think he is a fool. My colleague acts disparagingly to me because she tells herself I am so qualified that she feels uneducated. The husband is ill-tempered when he is shopping with his wife because he tells himself that he is being treated a child following his mother.
When we take note of how we react we expose the underlying story we are telling ourselves. Every time we think a hateful thought we hurt ourselves. We think we are defending ourselves but the cruel reality is we are hurting ourselves. When we realise this we can be understanding and compassionate to ourselves and to others. We learn to love wisely.
Marcus Aurelius put it this way: “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Paul informs us how to have the power to revoke the false story. He tells us to actively take captive every thought, recognise if any lies are creeping in and to shape our thinking the way God frames the world. Our reality needs to be the way God frames reality, not the way the world frames reality.
“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
As you adjust your false world reality to that presented to us in Jesus, you will be able to clearly hear the voice of God. The voices of this world will simply cease to have any effect on us.
*All quotes from NLT.