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LIFE IS A MAZE(ing): God’s Voice or Bad Pizza?     John 10:1-18     (2nd Service)

If you really packed the guys in, you could probably get 15 people in one of those boats.  These guys were pros and they’d been on this sea hundreds of times in their lives.  They’d been there in the middle of the night because some of the best fishing happened in the middle of the night.  As they started to go across that 13 mile journey from one end of the shore to the other in the Sea of Galilee, a huge storm just came out of nowhere and started buffeting against their boat.  You can imagine wind and waves and water rushing to your face.  You couldn’t see anything anyway since it was pitch dark; three in the morning by this time.  Inevitably, the question had to come up, because all the disciples would have been asking it:  Whose idea was it that we cross the lake in the middle of the night?  You guessed it!  Jesus’s idea.  You wonder if there was a conversation that happened back and forth:  Man, we’ve been trusting that guy with an awful lot, is he trustworthy, because it certainly seems like this little boat is going down?   It was at that point that they looked out, and shining through the darkness looked like a ghost.  A ghost!  Out of the darkness comes a voice:  Take heart!  It is I!  Do not be afraid!    If you’re one of the disciples, you might have shouted back: That’s easy for you, Jesus!  You’re not the one seeing the ghost, or somebody walking on water!  Either way, it’s a bit frightening!    Take heart it is I, do not be afraid. (Matt. 14:27)  The next thing that happens is shocking.  I for one am so glad…..Peter gets a bad rap, but I’m so glad Peter’s there.  Any time you start to get down on Peter, just remember, he’s one of only two people that have ever lived that have ever walked on water!  So don’t slam him too quickly.  We wouldn’t have nearly the humorous stories we have in the Bible if it weren’t for Peter.  Lord, if it’s you, if it’s really you….I know that you’ve said it’s you, but if it’s you command me to come out on the water.  Come.  Come.  Not…Peter, I want to assure you this is Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah, the long-awaited King of Israel.  Here’s my ID.  Here’s my driver’s license.  Let me give you just a few things only you could know about, Peter.  I want to assure you it’s me.  None of that.  Just…..come.  I can imagine Peter getting up on the edge of this little 15-person fishing boat.  Pitch dark.  Wind. Waves. Getting ready to step out of the perfectly good boat, that seems to be holding up, even in the midst of the storm, into the middle of the sea.  I wonder if he’s thinking as he’s stepping out, “How sure am I?  Sounds like your voice, but I’m not so sure.”

We know the end of the story, but think of the questions running through Peter’s mind as he’s stepping out of a perfectly good fishing boat, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a sea that’s raging.  Jesus, is that you?  Is it really you or did we eat bad pita?  Did I really hear your voice or is it just my voice?  Or maybe it is a ghost!  I don’t know.  Nobody else in the boat seems to be jumping out, just Peter.  I think this story speaks to our modern predicament, because I think there’s two questions Peter has to wrestle with, there’s two questions we have to wrestle with:  1) In light of my current life, my situations, the challenges, the opportunities in front of me, what is God saying to me?  2) How do I know it’s God….and not just bad pizza?  How do I know it’s God and not just me?  Discerning God’s willis grounded in hearing God’s voice.  If you’ve been coming here the last view weeks, and you’ve been engaged in this message series we’re doing called “Life is A Maze(ing),” you know we started out by saying that we hear God’s voice only through surrender.  We hear God’s voice when we hear God’s wisdom.  We hear God’s voice through the inner confirmation, the Spirit’s work in our life.  We hear God’s voice through opened and closed doors and through circumstances and God’s provision.  Today I want to talk about the question that’s probably in most of your minds.  Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, all that stuff’s really good, Ryan, but how can I know FOR SURE if God is actually speaking?  Or if I’m just hearing my own thoughts and my own voice, or somebody else’s voice, or maybe I just ate something that didn’t agree with me and I’m hearing voices!  How do I know if it’s God’s voice or if it’s mine?

This man named John walked up to Mother Teresa while she was praying for people.  He asked her to pray for him and she said, “I’d love to pray for you.  What do you want me to pray for?”  He said, “I would like you to pray for clarity.”  She said, “No.”  He responded, “Mother Teresa, you’ve had clarity your whole life.  Look at the way you’ve followed God and the way that you’ve served God and the way that you’ve loved God.”  Mother Teresa responded and she said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.  So I will pray that you trust God.”

What I don’t want to do is make it seem like, at the onset of our time together today, that I’m going to give you the sure-fire way to always know that you have heard from God, beyond a shadow of a doubt.  What I do want to do is to teach you what the Scriptures say and how you can have confidence that you have, in fact, heard from God, and that you can have enough confidence to step into it and experience it and see for yourself, whether in fact it is God speaking or maybe….you just ate some bad pizza.

John 10:1-6. Jesus is going to teach his disciples, and those listening in, how they can hear God’s voice and have confidence that it’s him.  Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.  {He’s saying that if you hear the voice of Jesus, it’s got to come in the way that the Father said it would come; he’s pointing to himself.}  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the gatekeeper opens.  The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  A stranger they will not follow, buy they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.  This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.  

Jesus makes a few important statements in these few verses.  Number one, God is speaking.  Number two, we can learn how to hear.  It’s not a given, but we can how to hear.  The enemy would love to undermine either one or both of those statements:  Either that God is in fact speaking, or that you and I can learn how to hear.  Here’s the truth of the matter that Jesus wants to draw out, God is speaking and we should expect to hear.  We should EXPECT to hear.  We live in a God-bathed world.  In Acts 17:26-28, Paul is teaching the philosophical elites of his day in the Areopagus and listen to what he says to them: And he (God) made from one many every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, {So God decided where you would be born.  God decided what family you would born into, what time period you would be born.  You go okay, why would God have such a unique hand in all of those things, and Paul goes just wait, I’ll tell you.}  that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. {In some translations it’s like ‘that they would grope for him.’  Like looking for him in the dark.}  Yet he is actually not far from each of us, for “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.”  He’s closer than breath.  Take that in for a moment.  

Father Richard Rohr says: “We cannot attain the presence of God.  We’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.”  Friends, lean in for a moment, this is not intended for the spiritual elite.  This is not intended for the pastors and people that work at a church.  This is intended….to hear the voice of God is God’s desire for every single apprentice of Jesus.  Every single person.  That we would expect to hear his voice and learn how to hear his voice.

In a recent study, they found out that teenagers, in our day and time, have a 30 percent higher hearing loss than teenagers in the ’80s and ’90s.  Thirty percent higher.  What they found is that it’s primarily because of the way that we put speakers into our ears and pump volume into our brain.  There’s probably a more scientific way of saying it, but…….that’s the bottom line.  Likewise, theologian Jan Walgrave said: “Our age constitutes a viral conspiracy against the interior life.”  It’s not just our physical hearing that we’re losing.  It’s our soul hearing, it’s our heart hearing.  God is not speaking any quieter, we’re just having a harder time hearing because of the assault that we do on our own souls in the digital age.

The question you might be wrestling with is okay, well, why is it so hard to hear God?  I’m going to try not to get lost in the weeds here.  Here’s five reasons why it’s hard for you and I to hear God.  1) Sometimes it’s hard to hear God because God is hidden.  Intentionally so.  We read this in the Scriptures that there are moments where God pulls back.  He’s not absent and he’s not playing hard to get, but there are things that he will teach us through absence that he cannot teach us through presence.   So for moments, and maybe seasons, in our life, it’ll feel like God is silent.  God may even BE silent in order to refine our faith and teach us in the depth of our soul something that he could not teach us through his presence.  2) God is often silent—I hope you don’t take this the wrong way—because we are narcissistic.  It’s not that God is silent actually, it’s that we have a hard time hearing him because we come to him with our agenda.  God, here’s all the things I need fixed.  God, here’s all the things that are broken.  Hear me, God genuinely does want to hear those things, but when we stand before God, preoccupied with self, we see very little of what’s actually there.  If all I see is me and my need, I miss out on the vast landscape of all that God might want to do.  Even our searching of God’s will is often motivated by ego and self-interest.  So let’s just call it what it is.  3) Pragmatism.  Friends, this is the air that we breathe.  If it works, it’s good; if it doesn’t work, it’s not good.  If it works, it’s worth our time; if it doesn’t work, it’s not worth our time.  Here’s the problem with that when it comes to relationship with God:  Very rarely is there a direct correlation of your ‘return on investment’ between time spent with God and something that’s yielded out on the other end.  Many of us have given up on trying to hear God’s voice, because it hasn’t produced what we hoped it would produce and in our pragmatic age we go, I’m out!  Thomas Merton was once asked what’s the greatest spiritual disease?  His answer?  Efficiency.  Dallas Willard said: “Our failure to hear His voice when we want to is due to the fact that we do not in general want to hear it, we want it only when we think we need it.”

Fourth—Hurry.  As one theologian said: We have a hard time hearing God not so much because of our badness, but because of our busyness.  The other night we had a family night and were watching “Survivor” as a family.  I had been over at the seminary Monday and Tuesday and preaching and teaching there, so I was in work mode during family night.  I’m sitting on the couch and trying to watch a little, but I’m mostly working and trying to figure out what I’m going to say this morning.  I am on the couch cranking away.  Kelly and I go put the kids down and when I get back to the couch I pop my laptop right back up and start working again.  I glance over at Kelly and get that look that only a wife can give to a husband, like, you’re in trouble.  I ask, “What’s up?”  She says, “Nothing,” which you know doesn’t mean nothing.  I at least looked over the top of my laptop and asked, “What’s going on?”  She said, “You’re like in a totally different world.  You missed time with us.”  I wonder how many times, if we were to glance at God, he’d give us that look like, seriously?  That’s more important than me?  Hurry can cause us to miss some of the most beautiful things in our life.  Catch this with me, friends.  I’m a pastor and prone to hyperbole, but I do think we’re in the most busy and frazzled generation that has ever existed.  Or at least one of them.  We are busier than ever—lean in for a moment—and we are more bored than we’ve ever been.  We are more busy and more bored than we have ever been.  We are going, going, going, going, and we have this sneaking suspicion in our souls like we are not doing nearly enough.  Something in us is broken.

Finally—Sin.  In the same way that an argument with a friend or a spouse can cause you to sort of miss each other….have you ever had those seasons where you’re going man, we’re just missing each other?  Or maybe you’re in a fight and it’s just hard to hear each other.  When we live in will defiance against the way and shalom of God—catch this—it’s hard for us to hear from God.  If we don’t want his will and we don’t want his way, we shouldn’t expect to hear his voice.  As St. Teresa of Avila said:  “The interior castle of our souls is under attack.”

We should expect to hear God, but we should also admit that there are some challenges in front of us, yes?  So the question becomes:  How do we learn to hear his voice?  John 10:3 — To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  Kenneth Bailey, the great New Testament scholar and teacher in Lebanon for four decades, says that there’s this picture that Jesus is painting that’s lost on us city folk.  When a shepherd would lead his flock of sheep to a watering hole, typically there would be six or seven flocks at that same watering hole because water was scarce in the desert.  They would gather around these watering holes.  He started to ask questions about how do the shepherds now which sheep are theirs and how do you keep the sheep separate.  Someone said to him, “You don’t need to keep the sheep separate.”  All the shepherd has to do is step back from the flocks at the watering hole, play his little flute, or do his shepherd call, and HIS sheep know his voice.  They follow.  It’s rightfully pointed out that sheep are some of the dumbest animals to live on the face of the planet, but they got one thing going for them, they know their shepherd’s voice.

You can learn your Shepherd’s voice also.  You can learn how to listen.  Question: Did the sheep always know this shepherd’s voice?  No.  Bailey tells the story in his book, The Good Shepherd, about a sheep that was transferred from one shepherd to another.  It took the sheep about three weeks of being anxious.  Every time the shepherd called, this sheep’s four legs would just shake until he finally—about three weeks—started to recognize okay, that’s my shepherd’s call, that’s what my shepherd’s voice sounds like.

We assume, incorrectly, that if God were to speak to us, we would know what his voice sounded like.  We wouldn’t, unless we’ve learned it.  In the same way—-you can read the story in 1 Samuel 3—-Samuel’s a kid in the tabernacle and Eli is the old priest, at this point in time.  Samuel starts having these dreams that wake him up in the middle of the night.  He starts going to Eli asking if Eli had called him.  It happens three times until Eli finally says what might be going on, I’m not sure, is you might be hearing from God.  He didn’t know it was God’s voice.  He had to learn how to be attentive to the voice of God.

We’ve got to learn the same thing, so how does God speak?  I want to draw out three primary ways God speaks.  These all come from the Scriptures.  One, God speaks within.  This might be through a prompting from the Spirit.  This story comes from a friend, Matt.  He says, “I was praying about what God would have me do in response to Family Promise.” (The one we hosted last time.)  He said he got the sense that God said bake a loaf of bread.  So he did.  He baked a loaf of bread.  God, what do you want me to do with this loaf of bread?  I just want you to give it to Lydia (who runs Family Promise).  Okay, I’ll give it to Lydia.  One of his points was man, we can talk about God’s will being moving across the country.  We can talk about God’s will being starting a new business.  We can talk about God’s will in a relationship. Certainly God’s will influences, impacts all of those things, but it can be as simple and every day as bake a loaf of bread.  Prompting from the Spirit.  Or have you ever had this sense, as you’re going through your day, I need to send so-and-so a text message.  Or I need to give him a call.  Sometimes you act on that, right, and sometimes you ignore it.  Part of what I want to do today is say, “Don’t ignore it!”  The only way to know if it’s God speaking to you is to actually step into that moment.  Because we learn God’s voice by experience.  From experience of him speaking to us from within.  Remember, God is at work within to work and to will according to his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13)

His Spirit, friends, is powerful.  Listen to what it says the Spirit of God does in our hearts and in our lives.  Just for clarification, when I say ‘within,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean an audible voice.  It could be an impression, it could be a hunch.  It could be…God, I think this is what you’re doing, I’m going to step into it.  Here’s what the Spirit does.  The Spirit teaches.  The Spirit counsels.  The Spirit gives words when we don’t have them.  The Spirit brings things to remembrance.  He convicts.  Most of these things probably happen in inaudible ways, but certainly very real ways.  Don’t diminish real to audible.  Please!

Second, how does God speak?  So there’s a prompting from the Spirit within.  Second, from without.  There’s three primary ways that God speaks from outside of within.  Number one is through the Scriptures.  And the other two are way, way down the list.  So please hear me.  The number one way God speaks to us, that is not just from his Spirit that lives inside of our lives, is through the Scriptures.  But also, he speaks through creation.  We started our Call to Worship with Psalm 19:1-3 — The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.  Yeah, so creation.  Then through other people.  You might be here at church and somebody has a prophetic word for you.  Or somebody just has a word of encouragement for you.  Or you sense….I just think I need to go say something to that person.  It can be a way that God speaks.  But Scripture is the primary way.  Listen to Frederick B. Meyer:  “The written word is the wire along which the voice of God will certainly come to you if the heart is hushed and the attention is fixed.”

You may be following along on the outline in the service guide.  Can I just invite you to turn it over?  I’d encourage you to take this home with you.  This is called “Steps for Practicing Lectio Divina.”  Simply a way of reading the Scriptures that the church has used for generations.  But it’s a way to read the Scriptures that might be a little bit different than you’re used to.  There’s three primary ways people read the Scriptures.  Number one, people read the Scriptures and they study the Scriptures.  You have commentaries out.  You have word studies out.  What does this word mean?  How does this fit with the bigger story of God?  We’re doing theology as we’re reading the Scriptures.  Typically, as westerners who are entrenched in rational enlightenment thought, we think that’s the only way to read the Scriptures.  It’s not.  Second way to read the Scriptures is what I would call the flyover approach.  You just read them to sort of get them in your soul.  You’re not studying them though.  This is like Bible in 90 Days.  If you do the Bible in 90 days, you’re not studying the Bible.  You’re reading the Bible and there’s a difference.  Both are good in their place.  Third, there’s an approach ancients have used called Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading), where they just simply read the Scriptures in a way, not where they stand over them to try to figure out what they say, but where they stand UNDER them to say, Jesus, what do you want to say to me through them?  Where we read the Scriptures, but maybe more importantly, we let the Scriptures read us.  We ask the Spirit to draw things out.  It’s the Spirit of God within interacting with the Scriptures of God without that make this beautiful, beautiful explosion in our lives.

Finally, around.  Within–Spirit.  Without–oftentimes Scripture, creation, or people.  Around.  This is simply the circumstances of every day life.  I love the way Liz Ditty put it in her wonderful book, God’s Many Voices:  “A circumstance can be any connection of events that is not easily explained, and those occurrences tend to spark wonder or excitement.  Scientists and saints alike are fascinated by coincidences, but they think about them differently.  Coincidences are just as often an invitation to prayer as they are an answer.”  So, God, I’ve been praying about this and this thing came into my life, and God, I’m not exactly sure what to do with it.  So, Jesus, show me.  Is this you speaking?  Or is this bad pizza?  Which one is it?

With all of this…..a pastoral word for you.  Oftentimes we will step into a situation and it will become clear to us that—or at least we’ll think—we’ve heard God’s voice wrong.  Then we start to think, “Well, if I heard God’s voice wrong here, I haven’t ever heard God’s voice right ever.”  I just want to tell you, how insane would relationships be if your friend said something to you and you misunderstood it, and then started to think well, I’ve never understood anything you’ve ever said then.  No, no, no!  Communication….we can hear wrong.  God doesn’t say things wrong, but we can often be in a place where we just hear what we want to hear.  It’s not really his voice.  But that shouldn’t stop us from seeking to learn, through experience, how to know when God is speaking, so that we can, like his disciples are intended to do, hear his voice and respond to his call.  

John 10:4-5 — When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.  If you read through this whole text, there’s going to be three characters that also have voices that aren’t of God.  Strangers. Thieves. Robbers.  They can either be—in this text—of secular institutions or they can be religious voices, that are saying this is what God is like, this is what the way of God looks like.  Jesus says they’re thieves, they’re robbers, do not listen to them.  You’re my disciples, I’m your Good Shepherd, don’t let them take you astray.

The question becomes then, not only are we expecting to hear God and learning to listen, but we also need to learn how to discern.  God, what’s your voice and what’s the voice of another?  Jesus seems to think that’s really, really important.  Early followers of Christ had this approach to the spiritual life that they referred to as the “discernment of spirits.”  Here it is in 1 John 4:1-2 — Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: {How do we know if something’s the voice of God, or just bad pizza, or bad theology, or a thief, or a robber, or a stranger?} every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.   What does the voice do with Jesus?  What does the prompting do with Jesus?  What does the hunch do with Jesus?

It’s interesting, when they train federal agents to try to detect counterfeit money, they actually don’t show them counterfeit money.  They show them the real thing…..over and over and over and over and over and over and over, until they’re able to go, “That’s not real! Not because I’ve seen a bunch of fake money, but because I know what the real thing looks like.”

So what does the real thing look like?  What does the real voice…..will the real voice of Jesus please stand up? There’s three things:  Matthew 7:28-29.  And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.   You might write down the word “quality.”  There’s a certain weightiness to the voice of God.  When God speaks to us, there’s just something about it that carries a different type of weight than other voices or our own thoughts.  Here’s the way E. Stanley Jones puts it:  “Perhaps the rough distinction is this: The voice of the subconscious argues with you, tries to convince you; but the inner voice of God does not argue, does not try to convince you.  It just speaks, and it is self-authenticating.  It has the feel of the voice of God within it.”  So we may just have this sense like, we just can’t shake what we’ve heard.  There’s a weightiness to it.  There’s a beauty to it.

Second — But the wisdom from above{The wisdom that’s from God, which is the only kind of wisdom.} is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, {Don’t you love this?  God’s wisdom is open to reason.  Test it out.}  full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)   There’s a sense of confidence and joy and peace when God speaks.  Lean in for just a moment, please, because I feel like in our cultural moment, as we’ve seen a bunch of pastors at large churches fall, there’s part of me that goes how did we miss it?  There voice never sounded gentle.  It sounded harsh.  It sounded condemning.  It didn’t sound like the voice of Jesus.  Jesus’s voice is not the voice of a bully!  He’s not threatening.  He’s not coercing.  Even when he draws out something in your life that he’s inviting you to change, it’s not……   When the Spirit speaks to us, the Spirit does not condemn.  That’s the voice of the enemy.  When the Spirit speaks to us about something that’s off in our life, it’s a voice of conviction, and it carries with it an invitation…..here’s where you’re going wrong, here’s where you’re going off, REPENT, change your mind, change your life, believe that the kingdom of God is at hand and you can enter into it any moment you want to.  But it’s not….you’d better.  It’s not the voice of fear.  It’s not the voice of coercion.  Even when we talk about repentance, there’s a type of godly grief that produces repentance and leads to salvation or healing.  There’s also this worldly grief, the voice of the enemy that just leads you to this cul-de-sac of guilt and shame and death.  Hear me, God’s voice is not the voice of a bully.  God’s not going to crowbar you into doing something that you don’t want to do.  He’s the Good Shepherd, he’s just going to stand in front of you and go there’s a better way.  You want that way?  I’d love to lead you to that way.

The rest of the text is number three.  John 10:11 — I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.    When the wolves come, the good shepherd doesn’t flee.  The good shepherd sacrifices.  The good shepherd loves.  The good shepherd knows your name!  He doesn’t call you ‘hey, guy,’ or ‘hey, gal,’ or ‘pal’…..it’s Ryan, I’ve got a word for you.  So there’s a content that God’s voice carries with it.  So quality.  There’s a spirit of gentleness.  Then there’s a content.  God’s voice always sounds like Jesus, leading us to abundant life.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10)    That’s his desire for you.

In summary, Jesus’s voice sounds like weighty, wise, beautiful, gentle love.  It doesn’t sound bullish.  It doesn’t come at you from a place of fear, or shame, or worldly guilt just to make you feel bad instead of leading you to life.  If it doesn’t align with the way and the words of Jesus, it’s not the voice of God.  It’s a little bit of a litmus test for you.

You may be going, alright, Paulson, what do we do with that?  Here’s three things:  Stop.  I know, based on schedule, that’s harder for some than others, but I think A.J. Sherrill says it really, really well in his book Quiet:“Stillness is the forgotten teacher within a society of perpetual movement.”  One of the things you can do in revolt against a cultural moment that says more, more, more, more, more is just stop and embrace silence.  Embrace solitude.  Carve out times to read Scripture, not with agenda but just to hear the voice of God.  Practice Sabbath.  Maybe it means going for a walk by yourself, or with your family, or with some friends, and just talking to Jesus as you talk to each other.  Stop.

Second — Receive.  If you want to till the soil of your soul to hear from God, can I invite you to embrace a posture of gratitude.  God has been ridiculously generous to you.  You can go yeah, but here’s all the things that have happened in my life.  I get it, but just for one moment do this.  {Ryan takes a slow deep breath.}  It’s grace. It’s all gift.  Yeah, things didn’t turn out perfectly and yeah, there were some people who were evil to you.  I hear you, and I don’t want to minimize that, but there are the fingerprints of God, and love of God, and goodness of God, has been chasing after you every single day of your life.  Pause, recognize it, it will open your heart and your ears to hear the voice of God like nothing can.

Finally — Go.  Stop. Receive. Go.  All throughout this text we see Jesus saying, “My sheep hear my voice and then they follow me.”  They just don’t hear me and go Jesus, wonderful, great, awesome, so glad you’re speaking.  No, they follow him.  They follow him even when it’s a dark night, waves are beating against the boat, rain is coming down.  Peter’s on the edge of the boat and he hears this one word…..come.  Peter goes here goes nothing.  I don’t know if it’s his voice, but there’s only one way I’ll know.  Yep, that was Him.

As we end our series, Life is A Maze(ing), I just want to carve out a few moments for you and for me to just say God, we don’t want to just hear a message about hearing from you, we actually just want to posture our souls to hear from you.  I’m going to lead us through a Lectio Divina, listening God-esque experience.  I just want to give you a gift of just being quiet, being still.  Let’s just say Jesus, we expect that you’re speaking and we want to learn to hear.  Would you help us identify your voice and the voice of the others?  Please.  Amen.