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“Concerning the Voice of the Lord”
Baptism of the Lord Sunday
(audio begins at about 21 seconds)
“The voice of the Lord roars like thunder. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon and shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord flashes forth fire, and strips the forest bare of bark.”
I cannot speak for you, but, as for me, every time the lectionary places in our path those words from today’s psalm, I find myself longing for the voice of the Lord to sometimes speak as publicly and powerfully, down here on the ground, as it did, back there on the page.
But, for most of us, the voice of the Lord lands less loudly on our ears than it seems to have sounded in this morning’s psalm, when the voice of the Lord was busy starting strong storms, toppling tall trees and felling full forests.
And, even when we do believe we have discerned the voice of God from all the other voices which clamor for our attention, how can any of us say, with certainty, whether what we have felt in our spirit is, indeed, the voice of the Lord, or only the echo chamber of our own desires?
I cannot speak for you, but, as for me, this is the sort of thing I think about very often. Because I am a very Pentecostal kind of person, the kind of Christian who believes that the Spirit still speaks, I am almost always listening for the voice of the Lord. As a result, across the years, I have changed my mind concerning some of the most important ideas one can name; significant changes which I have made in response to what I believe, in the depth of my soul, to be the Holy Spirit’s leading; “the voice of the Lord.”
But, how can I know for certain? How can I know that what I have felt in my spirit is truly the voice of the Lord, showing me new light on old truth, and not just the echo chamber of my own desires?
Perhaps the best any of us can do in the face of such questions is to measure any nudge or whisper we believe to be the voice of the Lord against the standard Jesus gave us when Jesus said that the most important commandment of all is the one which tells us to love God with all that is in us, and, the second most important commandment is the one which calls us to love all other persons as we love ourselves.
If we make that our moral compass and north star; always only testing what we believe to be the voice of the Lord by that standard; the standard of love for God and love for others, then, while we may not always get the voice of the Lord right in ways that are perfect and flawless, we will never get it wrong in ways that are hurtful and careless.