A mighty whisper


glanced at the clock as I slipped out of bed. 6.30 am! We’d had hot weather and I wanted to water the garden while it was still in shade. Armed with my trusty secateurs I blithely snipped off dead buds with one hand while hosing with the other.

As I neared the side fence, my neighbour appeared on his front verandah, coffee cup in one hand and cigarette in the other. He watched me for a minute and then said: “Thunderstorm coming.” 

That still small voice was now a roar in our ears. We committed ourselves to God’s call and the rest is history.

Grinning broadly he sat down to enjoy his morning cuppa. I smiled indulgently as I had heard the early weather broadcast predicting “cloudy but fine”. Watering finished, I grabbed the hedge trimmer and proceeded to trim the front hedge. It badly needed the hair cut. Sweating profusely, I laboured on feeling very smug and self-righteous.

Back inside I cleaned up and made my breakfast. I loved to sit and watch the rainbow lorikeets as I had brekky. 

No sooner had I sat down, than I heard the ominous roar of thunder followed by rain. My neighbour had been right! If I’d listened to him I could have saved myself time. In 30 minutes God had watered not only the front but the back yard and the car. As I glanced across to my neighbour, he smiled cheekily and waved his cigarette at me.

Reflecting on the events of the morning I realised how often as Christians we don’t heed the “still small voice of God”. Thank God we have some excellent examples from the Bible where people did heed that voice. 

Think of Daniel and his three companions. There they were with a feast fit for a king. It would have been quite interesting to hear the dialogue in their heads. The little voice would be reminding them of what was best for them, while the feast in front of them would have screamed out: “Eat me, I taste good.” And it was all free! But no. These guys were strong. They refused the goodies, asked for a vegetarian spread and proved to the king that their choice of food was healthier—with exceptional results. 

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) tells us: “Be still and know that I am God . . .” It’s while we are being still that we have the time to listen to what that voice (God) is whispering to us.

Many years ago my husband and I felt that still small voice. We prayed, asking God to reveal His message. He led us to Isaiah 30:21 (KJV): “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way; walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left’.”

Then, during our holiday break, we set out to explore Sydney. We continued praying that God would show us what He wanted us to do with our lives. On impulse (really God’s leading) we decided to visit Avondale College and spend a couple of days exploring Advent history. 

Sabbath morning found us in Avondale Memorial church. We loved the atmosphere and both of us felt the day was somehow going to be special. 

It was. We sat in Sabbath School, listening in amazement. The opening text was Mark 16:15 (NIV): “Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

Barnabas and I looked at each other. I whispered to him, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” He nodded excitedly. The lesson concluded and we returned to our caravan. We needed to talk. We dropped to our knees. Barnabas asked God, “Is this the sign?” Then he added: “God, if this is Your sign then please repeat it somehow.” I remember thinking, “Wow, what cheek to ask God to repeat the sign” (how naïve I was). We rose and went back into the sanctuary for the service.

An elder announced that the selected preacher for the day had laryngitis. A college student had agreed to step in at the last minute (Ray Sills we later discovered). Opening the Word, he announced: “My text for today is found in Mark 16:15 (NIV), ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’.”

Both Barnabas and I gasped. The sermon seemed very short. Immediately after it finished, we returned to our van. That still small voice was now a roar in our ears. We committed ourselves to God’s call and the rest is history.

As I look back over our 40 years of ministry I still marvel at God’s leading and I whisper a prayer of thanks to a God who still cares enough to continue to speak to you and to me in that “still small voice”.

Barbara Shelley is a psychotherapist and professional counsellor who writes from New South Wales.