When I was a little girl I played make believe a lot – as most little girls do. However it was mostly by myself. My sister was four years older than I was and my brother although there was only 15 months between us, was frankly not interested in girlie games. My two younger sisters did not arrive until I was 5 and then 7 years old and with only 2 years between them, it was inevitable that they would be best friends and play with each other. I know, being the middle child sometimes sucks. My make believe often involved acting out scenes in my mind’s eye and of course there were always lots of exciting characters – and voices. I was not mad, just a little girl with a very vivid imagination and a love for story telling. I had to give this up as the years passed so that I could embrace adulthood – and reality. But years later when I was in medical school and doing my psychiatric training, I came across patients whose reality was muddled by the voices they heard. Often these voices were not their allies. They were voices that belittled them and made them do things they didn’t really want to do. It made me realize one thing – the voices you listen to will determine your direction and ultimately your destiny.

This week, I heard someone share something that they had read somewhere and it really stopped me short. It was a question that God had asked Adam and Eve after they had eaten fruit from the forbidden tree and discovered that they were naked. Rephrased it went something like this “ whose voice have you been listening to that is higher than Mine?”

Whether we admit it or not, or are even aware of it or not, we are constantly responding to voices of others, both those heard in our minds and those heard audibly. Sometimes it’s the voice of a parent, or someone else in a place of authority. Sometimes it’s the voice of a trusted friend, loved one, or society, or even the enemy. And sometimes it’s the voice of our own inner critic – a voice we will do well to recognize for what it is. The one thing about all these voices though, is that they are not as important as the voice of God – your heavenly Father.

I have learned one thing about God’s voice. It is never frantic. Frantic is not one of the attributes of our God. I recognize the voices of the people I know, not just based on their physical attributes – the nuances, pitch, tone etc. but also because I know their character. For example I have never heard my husband Austin swear. So if someone who sounds exactly like him swears at me over the phone, even without seeing who that person is, I know that it cannot be Austin (at least not Austin in his right mind).

Its the same with our God. His voice is never frantic. It is gentle, loving, kind, it can be firm but not harsh, truth-filled, clear and not confused. His voice leaves me hopeful, joyful, corrected perhaps but never condemned, encouraged, peaceful, motivated to do good. On the contrary other voices can be controlling, angry, harsh, bringing confusion and a troubled mind, fearful, doubt provoking, full of despair. So if the voices that you and I are hearing and responding to above all other voices do not have the attributes or characteristics of God’s voice, then perhaps it is time to stop and consider the question I posed earlier. ‘”Whose voice have you been listening to that is higher than Mine?”

His voice is never, ever frantic.