We love the stories of God speaking in dramatic ways leading to amazing things. I think of Loren Cunningham, years ago, seeing a vision of a map of the world with waves breaking over it. He sensed that the waves were young people covering the earth with the Gospel. This vision inspired him to launch out in what would become the worldwide Youth With a Mission (YWAM) movement.
BUT, is this the normal or usual way that God speaks to his people?
Dallas Willard, in Hearing God, argues that it is not. Further, if we think of God as primarily speaking in such dramatic ways, we may end up missing much or most of what He is saying to us.
Unfortunately, this gentle low-key word may easily be overlooked or disregarded, and it has even been discounted or despised by some who think that only the more explosive communications can be authentic. For those who follow this view, a life of hearing God must become a life filled with constant fireworks from heaven…
God usually addresses individually those who walk with him in a mature, personal relationship using this inner voice, showing forth the reality of the kingdom of God as they go…
But a major point of this book is that the still, small voice—or the interior or inner voice, as it is also called—is the preferred and most valuable form of individual communication for God’s purposes.
No doubt, those who know Loren Cunningham would say that his ability to walk out God’s plan for him and YWAM has been primarily a result of his dependency on daily hearing and following the voice of God. He cultivated a daily, hearing ear. I can assume this because it is a core teaching in all YWAM schools today.
Similarly, for the church to be an organic movement of life, it requires the participation of all followers in the amazing journey of hearing and responding to God in quiet yet powerful ways. This is not dependent on having a dramatic vision or encounter, but it does involve learning to attune ourselves to the daily voice of God.
A core principle of organic life and movements: Every follower becomes attuned to the voice of God—especially His still, small voice.
Today there is a desperate need for large numbers of people throughout various arenas of life to be competent and confident in their practice of life in Christ and in hearing his voice. Such people would have the effect of concretely redefining Christian spirituality for our times. They would show us an individual and corporate human existence lived freely and intelligently from a hand-in-hand, conversational walk with God. That is the biblical ideal for human life.
The church can re-discover its natural power as a movement when every follower becomes accustomed to encounters with God’s word and voice. We are, after all, making disciples of Jesus (sheep who know His voice) not disciples of ourselves or a church leader.
Now, don’t get me wrong. May God give dramatic visions. But, even more important, may many, many more of God’s people simply walk out in intimacy the daily directives of God that will lead to fruitful, organic, Kingdom lifestyles in a world needing His life and light.