Today as I write, our oldest granddaughter, Kayla, turns fourteen years of age and we plan to have a little celebration later in her honor. My immediate thought is, “Where has the time gone?” My secondary thoughts, I hope, will be developed in this lesson. A flood of memories appear in our hearts as we think of Kayla’s experiences at the farm – too numerous to count. I remember taking her to the Mother’s Day Out program in town and leaving her crying. I would bribe her with an ice cream cone if she did not cry; sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. We rejoiced when she trusted Christ and was baptized by her dad in our swimming pool. As a teenager she has earned the privilege of driving the four-wheeler at the farm – very responsibly I might add! We have recently enjoyed her excellence in her volleyball activities. So we celebrate her birthday today and we thank the Lord for loaning her to us for a little while.


As a toddler, Kayla had a difficult time taking naps in the afternoons. Often we would keep her while her mom worked at a part time job. She would fight sleep, I guess, because she thought there would be no tomorrow, or at least no more time left to do things if she gave up the fight. I’m no expert in these matters, but I know some babies just do this. However, I had a fail-proof system that would always put Kayla to sleep. When we knew she needed a nap, I would cradle her on my shoulder and then she and I would take a little ride on my ATV four-wheeler. We would ride around the farm and down the county road until she finally went to sleep. One would think the opposite would occur – for after all the motor noise of that vehicle is extremely loud. But Kayla seemed to be at peace with the sound of the motor. As I felt her relax, I would come home, then put her down for her nap, or just rock her on our front porch swing. Grandparents are like that, you know!


Once while doing the grandparent-front-porch-thing, I thought I had Kayla well relaxed and fast asleep, cradled on my shoulder, when all at once I heard her, almost in whisper tones, softly say, “Moo.” I thought she was asleep. Evidently she had heard the neighbor’s cows in the next pasture. I had paid no attention, but she had heard their sound, and in a still small voice she responded with a “moo.” That was it. She fell asleep and I put her down to continue her nap. But that incident left me with a sobering chuckle. She heard the call and responded while I paid no attention.


My thoughts turned to a story in the Old Testament about a little child named Samuel. (Read 1 Sam. 3). Samuel’s mother had dedicated him to the Lord to live in the temple with Eli the priest. One night the Lord called to Samuel but he did not know it was God speaking; he thought it was Eli calling him. He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am,” and waited for Eli to reply, but Eli had not called. After the third time, Eli perceived it was the Lord; so he told Samuel to reply to the voice and say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” With that, God spoke, Samuel listened, and then responded. Like Kayla, he alone heard the voice and applicably said, “Moo.”


Another story comes to mind about the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18). After the Lord got his attention and told him to stand on a mountain, Elijah waited for the Lord to speak to him. God came, not in the strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire. When God came and spoke to him it was in the sound of a low whisper. It was then that God gave further instructions to His prophet. Earlier, Elijah had seen the hand of God in a mighty way on Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal. This time, however, he alone heard the voice of God through a cloud no larger than a man’s hand.


Listening to the voice of God can be a tricky thing. Some folks claim to have heard His voice clearly and distinctly. I have spoken with people who will say something like this: “The Lord spoke to me and told me to……..” Or, they will say, “God said thus and so.” I will confess that this has never happened to me in a visible or audible way. Further, I have always felt uneasy when that kind of declaration emerges from an individual because it immediately puts me in an awkward position, especially if I happened to have felt differently about the same issue under consideration. If they claim that God spoke to them, then who am I to argue with God? Without hurting feelings or becoming argumentative, there have been times that I really wanted them to tell me more about this voice they think they heard. At least, it would open good dialogue.


There are things I believe about listening to the voice of God. Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God and are thus in tune to His leading. The Apostle Paul wrote about this plainly (Rom. 8:14-16, Rom. 26-28; Eph. 1:13-14). Also, Jesus promised his disciples the gift of the Spirit after His departure, and one of His duties would be to remind them of His teaching (John 14:26). So, the Spirit of God is continually in contact with the mind and spirit of the believer. Further, I believe that there is no latter day revelation from God as some religions claim (Galatians 1:6-8). Early on, God spoke through the prophets, but finally He spoke to us by His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). While the prophets record some rather exotic ways that God spoke in their day, the New Testament makes it clear that the words of Jesus, the writings of the Apostles, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit are sufficient for our day. This includes both the written and the living Word of God (John 1:1, John 1:14). More than once the Bible says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7, Rev. 2:11, Rev. 2:17, Rev. 2:29).


In some cases I think I understand what some folks mean when they say God spoke to them. Many a preacher, a missionary, or a Christian worker will sometimes say they “received (or heard) the call of God.” It is their way of relating what they believe the Spirit wanted to say to (or direct) their heart and life. Yes, God speaks to us in many ways. It could be in the teachings of godly parents or grandparents. It could come from the advice of other Christians whom they respect in the faith. It could come from a set of unmistakable circumstances interpreted to direct someone accordingly. It could come from a conviction of a certain passage of scripture, especially since the word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing….the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). It could come from the words of a hymn, or song, or reading material with meaning to the issue at hand. But to say, “I have heard an angel or I have heard an audible voice of God telling me thus and so,” I must confess presently that I have my doubts. However, I remain open to however God wishes to speak; He can do whatever He wishes, and He does not need my permission. After all, He used a donkey to speak to Balaam (Num. 22:28). I do know on the strength of God’s word that one day when Jesus returns for His church, believers will hear His “cry of command, and the voice of an archangel, and the sound of the trumpet of God” (I Thess. 4:16).


Kayla heard a cow “moo” and she alone responded. I had paid no attention to the same sound. It is sort of like that when God speaks to our hearts. We hear Him when no one else does. It is my prayer that Kayla (and for that matter all my grandchildren) will “hear” the voice of God often as she grows and matures in the faith. I want her to be attune and receptive to His leading in her life. I pray for an inner beauty to adorn her, for it will never perish (1 Pet. 3:4). I pray for her parents and for all those who influence her life for Jesus sake. Like little Samuel, I pray she always will say, “Here I am. Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”


“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27).