When I first started bird watching, I only knew the names and sounds of the most common birds like a crow, a duck, a seagull and a few others. But last year my daughter and I learned about birds through homeschool science. We learned how to attract birds to our yard by putting up a bird feeder and a bird bath. We would sit together and watch them for hours: how they ate, responded to each other, their unique calls and how they flew.
One such bird caught our attention above all the others. It was a Black Phoebe. My daughter endearingly named her Phoebe. She comes in closer than all the other birds because she wants to eat the occasional bug on our back porch. It took us months to learn her call. But now that we know it, I can be in bed just waking up and know she’s come by for a visit. I’ve gotten to know her call so well I can hear her above all the other bird noises in the yard.
The birds were all around me but I didn’t even notice because I was too busy or not interested. Sometimes, that’s how we are with God. Yet when we decide His voice is important, we can learn to hear Him. Read these verses for some clues on how God calls us.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
What the Black Phoebe taught me about hearing God is that if I pay attention and try to learn, I will be able to hear God above all the other noise.
Time to learn God’s call
- Identify God– Honestly, the first step has to be to acknowledge that He’s there. Much like I had to acknowledge that the Black Phoebe was in my backyard. Once I did, I could learn more.
- Study God- Read the Bible and/or get what is called a devotional book. I’ll list a couple at the end of this blog that I’ve enjoyed and were helpful to me.
- Ask others about God- Who in your life has a positive relationship with God? What have been their experiences? This photo at the top is from a friend who is a birder. She will often send me pictures of birds and we often talk about the birds we’ve seen. We share our experiences and we ask each other questions too. This is also what we do with our friends who love God.
- Listen to God- This is a carefully developed process: connecting the seeing with the listening. I liken it to bird watching. You see the bird and listen to what sound it makes. It can also work the other way around. You can hear a bird, search for where it’s perched, then you can see what it looks like. We all know there are lots of voices out there. It’s important to connect the voice you are hearing to the God in the Bible.
- Obey God- The verse above says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Once we’ve checked to make sure it’s Him, then it’s time to follow Him. In other words, obey Him. This is an important step. Why would we take so much time to get to know Him if we aren’t willing to listen to His words and do what He says?
What if I get confused?
I had to take time to learn the Black Phoebe’s call. It takes practice and sometimes I still get it wrong. Sometimes the Finches can cause me to think the Black Phoebe is out there but when I look, she’s not there. Sure you can get confused occasionally when listening to anything. You can with bird calls and you can when hearing God too. But just as I go out there and check to see which bird is really making that call, I also check out to see if it is really God talking to me too. When I get confused, I pray something like, “Holy Spirit, I need to hear from God right now. Please help me to hear Him and Him alone. Help me to hear correctly and show me Your will in this.” This helps me so much. Usually within a day I’m able to differentiate between “calls” again.
This takes time and a bit of practice. Let us desire to hear from God and be led by Him. Pray to Him today. Let Him know this is the desire of your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you to listen for His voice.
Devotional books I highly recommend: God Calling by A.J Russell, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and Evenings with the Holy Spirit by Jennifer LeClaire.
When I was a teenager my mother used to occasionally read “God Calling” to me. I think that is when I really started to desire to hear God’s voice for myself. It soothed my heart so much. Currently I am reading “Evenings with the Holy Spirit” with my 11 year old during our breakfast. It gives us a good platform for discussions in the mornings. I pray it will give her the desire to also listen for God’s voice throughout her life.
Blessings to you.