Tears spilled hot down my face as I tried to receive it, receive that subtle correction I thought He was giving me. In fact it was the very assumption that it was Him that made me so open to embrace it. And there I struggled, hurting, assuming He sat across the table from me waiting, with eyes narrowing. If my tears had words, they were saying, “Give me a moment and I’ll receive this. I’ll respond right, though it hurts.” All coming from the yet-broken-places in my knowledge of His heart. Then He came near to help me — not across and not opposing, not with eyes narrowing — but beside me, with me, His voice of truth enlightening. The voice that scatters darkness (Ps. 18:28). And swiftly, I began to see how I’d bought a lie about myself, how my agreement hadn’t been with Him at all but with my own ideas, my own evaluations, and with the accuser silently hiding underneath (Rev. 12:10). And my tears changed — from the heaviness of the accused to the simplicity of a child, loved and freely received (Rom. 8:15).
There’s this thing about accusation that can trip me — trip us — like this, this thing about sincere desire for humility that can have us stumbling over ourselves at times, all with good motivation, yet crippling nonetheless. And here we must learn something. We have to learn just how careful we must be in in the filtering of it all — far more careful than we may have thought.
We can’t afford assumptions here, but must always ask Him His thoughts.
Only One Voice Matters
You see, some of us, myself included, love to keep things real. We tend to like the raw and the authentic and would rather be silent then have to exchange words of pretense. So, with a heart of sincerity and a love for truth, we tend to open wide to the opinions we have of ourselves, the accusations of the enemy breathing in our ear, and even the arrows that fly in with the words of other voices. This affinity for being “real” is knit to how we despise the thought of living in a fantasy, disconnected from reality. Yet, here’s the careful walk and the need for cautious filtering:
And it’s not mine. It’s not the accuser’s. And it’s not another’s. That solitary voice is that of the Good Shepherd. And only when I hear the strains and cadence of the voice of the Shepherd – that voice I know – am I to heed and internalize and follow (Jn. 10:10 -11).
He alone has the words of life.
He alone is the truth.
Only when the evaluations in my head and the voices coming my way are in agreement with Him, echoing and making known His heart and His truth, am I to heed and deeply receive their message. It’s that simple. We’re only listening for one voice (Jn. 6:68, 10:5, 14:6).
It makes me stop and consider. The voice I may need to be most careful of is my own – my own opinions, my own evaluations. For it’s my own ideas that go most unchecked and are assumed to be the most neutral. How do I recognize half-truths when I’ve grown up beneath their skies? At times, we’re ready to be careful about what we know to be lies from the accuser. We’re cautious when it comes to filtering the words of others, wanting to walk in love and humility while still only receiving what He says over us. Yet our own thoughts? Our own evaluations? Here’s where the tripping up can really happen – for decades even – unless we’re willing to bring even these to the Shepherd.
The truth is that the unrenewed parts of me are not neutral, and thus, neither is my own voice and my own estimations of myself, of others, of all of life. Shrouded by familiarity, the accuser of my heart hides in these assessments. My own voice and sincerity teaming with his to ever so subtly bring me into agreement with his lies. It’s here that I need the Voice of the Good Shepherd.
He Gives Life Here
More than anything, we need that Voice that alone carries life (John 6:68). And part of walking carefully in love is not just blindly embracing every evaluation or criticism, maybe even especially the ones in our own heads. Instead, we’re to always search for His voice, asking Him for His truth at all times, in every word that comes our way, every opinion in our own minds and even every atmosphere that hovers over our hearts. He has given us His Spirit to bring the light that we need to discern and hear His voice and His heart, and whenever we find it, to agree. And when we do not find it there, even in our own heads, we must not agree. More than that, we must resist the lies with truth (Jas. 4:7).
And there is freedom here. Beautiful, open-skied freedom. For the One that I bring all my thoughts and evaluations to, the Voice I’m to hear — not just as central but as singular —He speaks with grace and truth (Jn. 1:17). His lovingkindness reaches to the skies and grace is poured upon His lips (Ps.108:4; Ps. 45:2). Far kinder than I am, and seeing so much more of the failures and the shortcomings, He speaks to redeem and not to condemn.
He is the good Shepherd who loves us so deeply, searches us out individually whenever we go astray (Lk. 15:4). He came to give us life and life abundant, guarding and overseeing our souls with such care (1 Pet. 2:25). Our part is to follow, to stay close and to heed that Voice above all the others. And when we do, we receive just what He came to give us: life, and life abundant (Jn. 10:10).
For more on the accuser and how He hides in our harmless thoughts, this rich-with-insight post, by my friend Sara, gives such heart-language as well as practical truth in how to take His Word upon our lips and truly give the Lord our minds.