This is How to Listen, This is How to Hear

Mar 6, 2013

There were years when a little flag would start waving in my head any time I heard someone say God told me to do this or God told me to do that.

A red flag.

It sounded too much like crazy-talk. I’d never heard God’s voice, so what makes you sure? What makes you special?


44/52 muted tones


Now I am that crazy person.

I’m the one setting eyes to roll with my casual God told us this and God gave us a dream, and, the boldest of all, God promised …

That’s the big one, isn’t it? Talk of promises is crazy and dangerous all at once. To talk about promises is to set oneself up as special and risk looking like a fool.

I am that fool.


This is how I got here: desperation. It was the not having, the hurting, the longing, and the pain.

It was that one time I threw my Bible against the wall. I could see the pages bent and the cover smashed, but I could also see words that were so comforting, so particular, I was tempted to make Bible-throwing a regular spiritual discipline.

It was that time I screamed at heaven, until I turned the corner around the clump of trees and saw an optical-illusion moon so enormous and fiery I couldn’t tell what it was. But I heard it. It said, “I’m here. You’ve been heard.”

Sometimes, it wasn’t pain so much as utter emptiness. When there are no friends and no activities, when the phone never rings and you’ve given up the job you pursued for ten years, small things begin to sound very loud.

Like the verse that pastor shared from the front. I was one of a crowd, but those words were an arrow and I was the mark.

Like the song that came over the speakers just as I asked my question aloud. That song with the answer.

Or, all those times (so many times) when all I could do was open my Bible on my lap.

And that’s all it took. Because there it was. Right there.


I’m wary of prescriptions, of three-step plans. But if you want to hear the voice of God (and think very, very carefully whether or not you do), then this is what I suggest:

Lean in to the pain. 

Listen to the silence.

Let the emptiness be just what it is.

And wait.



44/52 muted tones


  1. Samantha Livingston

    Yes! Amen! Been thinking just today that we run from the pressure, problems and pain of life but, for me, it’s been just those that have been catalysts to deepen my dependence on Him. And it’s there He’s taught me He’s faithful.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Yes, Samantha, you are right. He is always good, always faithful, and I know this because of dark days.

  2. Marilyn

    Beautiful and true. Love this blog!

  3. Susan

    I hate and I love that I know what you are talking about and that your “prescription” makes my eyes moist with heart-recognition of truth. Oh, if there were an easier way! I looked for the painless route for a long time. Never did find it.

    God bless you.

  4. lisa Ulrich

    Oh how encouraging this is to read!


Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest