The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
but one who has insight draws them out. — Proverbs 20:5
Steven Spielberg recently gave an inspiring speech about hearing one’s calling in life. He said, “I’ve always said to my kids, the hardest thing to listen to—your instincts, your human personal intuition—always whispers; it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to every day of your lives be ready to hear what whispers in your ear; it very rarely shouts.”
In a world where there are so many loud voices telling us what to think, what to do, how to look, and how to act, hearing that small still voice is a truly a gift – and a challenge.
In the Jewish tradition, that whisper is none other than the voice of God. Hearing His direction and will for us is difficult indeed. In Proverbs we read: “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” God has placed our purpose inside our hearts, but it is often hard to grasp. It takes insight and listening in order to draw it out.
Every person needs to quiet all the other voices and sounds that impair our godly hearing so that we can hear God’s voice. I can’t help but think of the passage from 1 Kings where Elijah the prophet encountered God following his famous battle with the prophets of Baal. We read: “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11–12). It is in the gentle whisper that Elijah finally heard God.
Today, there is a lot of wind and fire and shaking in our lives. They come in the form of media that bombards us all day long, people who might be interfering a bit too much in our lives, or our own critical inner voice. But if we want to know what God really wants of us, we have to make time to hear His voice above all the rest.
If we are quiet enough, we might just hear God tell us to feed the hungry and not just our own voice yelling at us to do the grocery shopping. We may hear God tell us to give charity, instead of hearing our friends tell us about the latest gadget we simply must buy. And if we are connected enough to God’s voice, we may just hear His calling on our life and the purpose we are meant to fulfill.
Consider this week how we can carve out that “quiet time” so that we can better hear what God has to say to us.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President