If you have ever been to a large family gathering, you know that the atmosphere of the gathering is not very quiet.
In our family, there is no shortage of board games, storytelling, loud laughter, and kids playing. You will usually find me and my sisters catching up while sipping on some coffee. Grandma is always full of life and some of the family members are even playing music. There are easily a minimum of 30 people at most family functions. All of these people and all of the activities create a sea of sound... However, when my son cries....no matter where he is or what is happening, I somehow hear it. If you are a parent, you understand.
Isn't it interesting how our familiarity with a voice can cause it to stand out above the rest?
There are a lot of voices constantly speaking throughout our lives and it leads me to ask: Have you ever felt disqualified? Have you ever been tempted to quit? Have you ever felt hopeless? Have you ever listened to the wrong voice?
Chances are you have LISTENED TO A VOICE in a relationship or a voice in your head telling you all the reasons why you are not good enough. We do not always mean to pay attention to the voices, but they definitely seem to come in the crowd-size form.
It reminds me of what is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful stories told in scripture: the story of the woman caught in adultery.
"Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
"They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:1-11 NLT
This woman was surrounded by voices. Voices accusing her of the wrong she had done, voices shaming her, and voices condemning her. Voices putting her down. Isn't this how the enemy works? Scripture calls him "the accuser of the brethren" (Revelation 12:10). The enemy comes to remind us of our failures, to disqualify us, to keep us from doing what we are called to do. The enemy wants us left in a pit of despair.
However, the voice of JESUS silenced a whole crowd of accusers! Not only did the voice of Jesus silence the others, but Jesus gave the woman HOPE and DIRECTION (v. 11).
He called her UP!
Most of us probably haven’t found ourselves in the exact situation as the woman caught in adultery. Almost all of us, however, have found ourselves surrounded by voices that are trying to tear us down.
At some point you have probably heard the enemy say:
• You don’t have what it takes
• You’re not qualified
• You’ve messed up too much
• You’re too young
• They’ll never believe you’ve changed
• You’re still working through stuff… wait until you’re perfect • You've made too many mistakes The enemy’s plan is for you to listen to his lies and stay down. The enemy does not want you to live out your calling and be a light for God's glory. BUT JESUS… Jesus draws a line in the sand for each of us and calls us UP. His heart is for you to walk in the forgiveness, freedom, purpose, and life that comes from the price HE paid for you. It’s time to recognize that the enemy wants to make his voice loud, but if you get yourself in the PRESENCE OF JESUS, the enemy's voice has to be silenced. The stones will drop and you will hear Jesus instead of the crowd. Jesus paid the highest price. His sacrifice allows us to stand UP in confidence in the midst of our mistakes and failures, knowing that He has gone before us and given us grace. "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."" (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is by the power of Jesus that we do not have to listen to the other voices. When you are wrestling with hearing lies, remember to: 1. KNOW the voice of Jesus: His voice and His word are unified. He speaks to us through His word and as we listen. The voice of Jesus brings conviction, not condemnation. He pulls us up and out, not down and away. Become familiar with hearing His voice. 2. BELIEVE Jesus: He is faithful and true, never failing. You can trust Him at His Word and He keeps His promises. 3. RUN BACK to the feet of Jesus when you hear the crowd again. His presence changes everything. Let Him remind you of His truth and His promises. His voice will bring you hope and direction. May you hear HIS voice above all the others.