Yesterday I was visiting the Pancake Church of Kungsbacka in western Sweden. Unlike us in Uppsala who go out on the streets, these people actually had a church to serve pancakes in. Since Kungsbacka isn’t a megacity, a lot of youths knew that the church hands out free pancakes on Fridays, and since the Swedish weather isn’t tropical, many of them came yesterday to eat some pancakes, chat with us and warm themselves.
After a couple of hours, we had some worship together. All the kids joined us, either because they were curious or because they had nothing else to do. This was the scoring opportunity for every evangelist. Two girls from Gothenburg, Charlotte and Jennie, came to the front to preach. Their message was called “Five popular myths about God”. Myth 1: God is unreachable and far away. Myth 2: Only weak and unintelligent people choose to live with God. Myth 3: It is boring to live with God. Myth 4: God doesn’t speak today. Myth 5: I’ll be better off if I choose God the minute before I die.
It was seriously the best evangelistic sermon I’ve ever heard. Charlotte and Jennie poured out their love for Jesus and shared how exciting and wonderful it was to follow Him. They combined biblical teaching with amazing testimonies. One testimony especially astounded me: when Jennie told us how she has heard the audible voice of God.
She had been attending a Christian team training school, mostly because she didn’t want to start working after high school. However, her faith started to grow cold. She quit reading the Bible and pray. When she started her second year at the school, she questioned what she was doing there. She needed spiritual rescue.
On the first worship meeting when the new semester started, the Spirit of God fell. Everyone were praying, and Jennie found herself on her knees crying out to God: “What shall I do?!” Suddenly she heard a clear voice: “Give Me your life.”
She was completely amazed. It was not the voice of anyone in the room, nor had she ever heard it before. It was simply the external, audible voice of God. She obeyed it, handed herself over to Jesus and, as mentioned, she was clearly a passionate disciple when I met her.
I think there are two extremes when it comes to hearing the external, audible voice, just as with seeing open-eye visions. Either you expect them as the primary way God speaks, or as the rare exceptions of how He speaks. Some people aren’t satisfied with prophetic impressions or inner pictures, other aren’t expecting anything else. Both of these views tries to limit and restrict the ways of the Lord.
In his excellent book Surprised by the Voice of God, Jack Deere develops a theory called “The clearer the revelation, the harder the task.” He points out that as far as we know, Jesus heard the external, audible voice three times: at His baptism (Mt 3:17), at His glorification (Mt 17:5) and right before His passion (Jn 12:28). These events clearly were milestones in His life, just as the devotion of Jennie was for her, or when Heidi Baker started working with missions (which is the only time this far she had heard the audible voice: “I will send you to Africa, Asia and England”). When one is to make really important decisions, God is eager to give clear guidance. Are we willing to listen?