“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”John 10:27
We are not just anyone’s herd, we are His, and He KNOWs us, and we follow Him. Beautiful. It’s kind of ironic to write about knowing the shepherd’s voice when I just came out of the driest prayer in my life and I have to admit I was kind of childish about it. I would sit in Holy hour waiting, just waiting for Him to speak to me, begging for Him to just say something. As I sat there hoping that these few weeks of driness would come to an end I realized what a grace it is to even be able to recognize that the Lord is silent. Reflecting back on high school I remembered how I would go days without praying, I could’ve cared less whether He was speaking to me or not. I had my mind on other things, and unless something was wrong I was not going to speak with Him. I cannot imagine how badly He wished for me to speak to Him, just to look at Him for one minute. If my weak and small heart aches to hear His voice, how much more does His heartache for us?
So here’s a little message to all those hearts aching for Christ, and to all those who do not even know what their heart is desiring. Trust this. He has not abandoned you. I repeat He has not abandoned you. He has sent Himself down upon you, through the Holy Spirit, to bring light into your darkness. And He is looking at you. Not your problems, not your success, nor your failures, just you, just as you are. And He knows you far more than you will ever know yourself, far more. And He loves you and He is speaking to you in ways you have not even thought of. It’s important to also remember that every divine part of the Trinity is a being, not just an idea or some dogma. Therefore prayer is always a two-way street, a conversation, and exchange of love. Prayer doesn’t even have to be words, it can be the simple acknowledgment of one another’s presence. Like one of those great friendships where you don’t have to say a word, but you both can put away your thoughts and distractions and just be in their presence.
To pray is to have a relationship with God. Through prayer, we come to know His voice and recognize Him as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Through prayer, we are invited into a deeper intimacy unlike any other, and we come to know ourselves more through the eyes of our creator. A good way to start to recognize how God speaks to us in our everyday lives is to read scripture more. It makes me sad to see so many people just use the Bible to memorize some verses and then slander people with it, or condemn others for how they live. I firmly believe that the bible is the living word of God, and therefore it should never be used to condemn someone or be twisted into someone’s own convenient interpretation. We should read it and put ourselves into the Gospel, allowing Christ to speak to us, to guide us, to allow us to know His heart’s intentions. We should read it and ponder on it in our hearts, and not just read the easy ones, but also the verses that are a little harder to swallow, the ones that speak that gentle whisper of “Come and follow me”. Find those verses that allow you to hear God calling you to Himself. To hear that call for unity, peace, perseverance, and deep trust. Learn from scripture how the church ought to act in one accord, or how to pray, or His promises, or His miracles and reckless love for us.
Scott Hahn is a theologian I really admire. Through his love of scripture, he was able to recognize God’s voice and had a total conversion of heart when he recognized that scripture came to life in the celebration of the mass. It takes this kind of openness to be able to recognize His voice and where He is calling you. So often in life, we worry about the decisions we have to make, our vocations, where we should go to school, the purpose of our trials, and all these crazy things that make our minds just race. If only we could find rest in the spirit, and go forth just trusting. I keep thinking back to my first communion and how we sang “Yes Lord, I will come and follow you, follow you wherever you go.” I remember singing that and being overjoyed to finally receive Jesus in the eucharist. My young mind did not question it, my heart was set on Him, and at 7 years old that girl most certainly would have followed Christ wherever He went. I begin to ask myself what changed? Certainly, Christ has not changed. I think what changed for me and most of us can relate to this, is probably the fact that as I’ve grown older I’ve made a lot of mistakes and the worldly view of love has gotten in the way of divine love. I stopped trusting myself. I stopped trusting that my body was good, I stopped trusting that God loved me, and therefore I stopped believing I was His. So even though God was speaking to me, and calling me to Himself, I was too ashamed to answer, and over time I just tuned Him out. But thank God for the loving Father, who will leave the 99 to find the one. My God never stopped chasing me. Even after getting out of a very sexually abusive relationship and continuing to struggle with self lust, and giving up on faith, He came to me in dreams, in songs at mass, through others, until I finally had to make the choice to surrender. Till I finally had to walk back in that confessional and repent all the ways that I knew I had hurt my Lord and savior. Then for penance, that priest had me go into the chapel where the blessed sacrament was exposed and let Jesus tell me How beautiful and loved I am. It wrecked me, and I just cried a lot, to be honest. Then from that day forward, there was a lot of hurt, but so much healing. I was able to let the Lord put the broken parts of my life back together, and look back even to my moments of dark sin and see Him standing there looking at me with arms wide open, ready to take me out of that darkness. I was able to recognize His voice. I was able to hear His call for a life of mission, to love others with that same reckless love, His call to write you this blog just to give a glimpse of how much He loves you. Today I pray that whoever is reading this will recognize that you are His beloved and He delights in you. I pray that He heals any brokenness in your heart and gives you light and peace. I pray that we all hear His voice, and follow Him, surrendering everything, and diving into a love so great you could never ask for anything more.