Relationships have always confused me. As an introvert who may or may not be autistic to some degree I have never understood fully how and why relationships work. What I know is that they are as important to us as food, water and air. Without relationships, we wither and die. These lockdowns have taught us that much. But how do we build and develop relationships? That is what I struggle with even today. One thing I learned is that relationship with God is more important than even food, water and air. Learning to listen to the voice of God has been critical for me in developing a relationship with Jesus.
Catching the wayward heart
Growing up in a home that was largely silent and loveless, I never saw relationships as valuable or important. Life was as it was. When I fell into addiction at an early age, I fed ‘self’ voraciously and moved even further away from any ability to deal with others in a normal way. I considered myself emotionally retarded for I could not engage people properly. This was immensely frustrating. Thankfully, Jesus was looking after me even though I did not understand He even existed. His tender care and watchful eye over my younger years I would not appreciate until relatively recently.
When Jesus finally caught my wayward heart, I knew that this flowering of love was not something I could lose. I had lost too much already and could not afford to lose more. From the moment I met God at the Cornerstone Christian Music Festival, I was determined to make this one relationship work.
Learning to listen to God's voice
Though I was in earnest, I had a long row to hoe in learning to listen to the voice of God. I did not understand where to start and, being friendless, few people could, or would, help me in this journey. I had one pastor friend that encouraged me, but that was limited. Though I battled depression, disassociation, suicidal thoughts and addiction Jesus did all the heavy lifting in the early days of our friendship.
No, to build a relationship with God, I had to learn from scratch on my own. Funnily, it all started when I went out for a walk one night. As I wandered the streets of the small prairie town where I lived I heard a voice inside me. It wasn’t audible, but still and quiet. I knew it wasn’t me because these were words I never would have said to myself. They were loving, kind and gentle. This had to be the voice of Jesus in me.
Feeling loved and nurtured for the first time in my life, my passion for God grew daily, as I deliberately listened to what I was hearing. I drank from this deep well of love and peace flooded my being. When Jesus spoke the words “I love you” to my wounded heart, it was the most soothing thing that has ever happened to me. I had found life.
Listen and obey
From this small beginning of learning to listen to the voice of God, I grew in spirit. There were many obstacles, hiccups and regression as times. I also discovered other voices in me. These were not like the voice of God, for they encouraged behavior and action that was selfish. Those words also didn’t line up with Scripture as God’s voice does. Though I was unaware at the time, ‘self’ was going to battle with my growing spirit.
Despite the resistance, I kept listening to God’s voice and obeying what I heard. What I discovered was that as I listened, there would be an expectation that I accept the truth of what I heard and live accordingly. Sometimes that meant I have to believe I was loved. Other times there was a direct action I needed to take, like confessing my addiction to my Sunday School class. Each step of obedience was hard but brought much needed strength and maturity to my spirit.
We had discovered that the life of a believer will only progress is we listen and obey.
When God finally called our family to the wilderness, it was the largest step of obedience we had ever taken, but we were ready. We had discovered that the life of a believer will only progress is we listen and obey. This has been our guiding truth since Jesus first called me as His own.