With all the cheering, the pep band, and the general loudness of a highschool basketball game, I could barely hear myself think. And if someone was trying to talk to me, it sometimes took more than once for me to understand what they were saying. And those were the people sitting right next to me. So I asked my cousin, Drew, how in the world he (and the team in general) can hear what the coach is yelling. And the gist of what he said was this (if I get anything wrong, Drew, you can correct me later!): He's learned his coach's voice. From all the time spent in practice and such, the players know their coach's voice. He's heard it so much, that it can break through the chaos that is a highschool basketball game. While Drew and I were talking, my cousin Marissa broke in and added this thought: that sometimes when she's playing, she can zone out the crowd and whatever else is happening, and zone in on her coach's voice and the action on the field.
So in order to hear their coaches' voices, it requires at least two things: learning what that voice sounds like and focusing on that voice.
Too often we complain about not being able to hear God's voice. Yet have we taken the time to learn his voice? Have we zoned out the rest of the world to focus in on his voice? A highschool basketball game is anything but quiet, yet the team can pick out their coach's voice. So it's not so much a matter of having the world around us quiet (though that certainly makes it easier), but rather learning what God's voice sounds like and focusing on it.
It requires time. I can't learn what God's voice sounds like unless I spend time in the quiet listening to him. I need to spend time in his word, in prayer, and just sitting in his presence listening. Because when the chaos of life hits, as I know it will, I need to be prepared. I can't learn his voice when I have a hundred other voices shouting at me. But if I take the time now, I can pick out his voice among those hundreds.
It requires diligence. It won't come overnight. It's something I have to work on, intentionally. I have to be intentional and diligent about learning his voice now. Sometimes it will be easier to ignore his voice, but it's always better to hear it.
It requires focus. I can't let other's voices distract me from what I know God is saying to me. I have to be able to focus on God's voice in the middle of the chaos. Because distractions are all around me, I need to zone out the world and zone in on God's voice.
But perhaps most importantly: It requires action. Knowing God's voice and focusing on it does me no good if I don't follow and obey what he tells me. Hearing and not doing is worse then not hearing at all.
"But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice....I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and they know me,...They will listen to my voice..."