“…for I am no better than my fathers!” 1 Kings 19:4
This portion of the verse resonated with me when I heard it read recently. It was the Lord’s intro to explaining a recurring experience I’ve had. Namely, the many times I’ve blown it as a mom and heard a “voice”, sometimes my own flesh and sometimes the enemy’s that said: “you’re no better than your mom after all.”
That phrase, for me, was the equivalent of being called a failure since the Lord is teaching me to view and interact with my children in a very different way than my Mom does her children. You can imagine the devastating effect those words had. They left me feeling hopeless and discouraged, believing I was doomed to repeat the destructive patterns of those before me.
I didn’t realize that in those moments I listened to the wrong voice. When Elijah heeded the Lord’s voice, he walked in victory including the destruction of the prophets of Baal. Yet the moment his enemy characterized the situation from her perspective (including the threat of retaliation), Elijah bought into it and concluded that he was a failure! Why was Elijah so easily affected by his enemy’s words?
In John 10, Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd saying He both knows and is known by His sheep. As with natural sheep and their shepherd, He says His sheep (believers) know Him by voice recognition. His sheep are so familiar with His voice, including tone and word choice; they completely ignore a stranger’s voice. By context, we know the strange voice belongs to the enemy who only comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to give us life and His words are spirit and life. Why was I so prone to hearing the wrong voice?
The answer: years of familiarity. I grew up in an environment filled with condemnation and rejection; nothing I did was ever quite good enough. On top of that, by temperament I tend to be hard on myself demanding near perfection. Therefore, the very voices that should be strange to me as a believer, such as condemnation and rejection, are the ones I’d become accustomed to. Jesus wants you and me to know His voice; His tone, His words which are gracious. He wants us to be so familiar with His voice to where we disregard anything that doesn’t sound like Him.
That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. Jesus gave Him permission to speak into our lives on Jesus’ behalf. The Holy Spirit says only what He hears Jesus saying so His words are trustworthy. As a noted pastor regularly states, the Holy Spirit is always speaking to us to convict believers of our righteousness in the risen Christ. Yet if the condemning voice of the enemy or the flesh blares loudly in our ears, His voice is difficult to recognize. How do we tune our ears to His voice? By feeding on the Word of Christ and who we are in Him. We are not condemned; we are the righteousness of God in Christ. We are not rejects; we are accepted in the Beloved in whom the Father is well pleased and as Jesus is so are we in this world.
The Father doesn’t compare believers to who we were because we are new creations in Christ. He’s certainly not comparing us to our parents or anyone else since the righteousness of man is like filthy rags. He sees us in the robe of righteousness Jesus gave us and He speaks of us and to us accordingly. As we seek and meditate on the person of Christ revealed in the Scriptures we’ll be transformed into His image. The more we identify with Him, the more we’ll hear His gracious assessment of us and ignore any strange voice that contradicts it!
SOUL FOOD (Scripture References)
1 Kings 19:1-4
John 16: 7-13
Romans 10:17, NIV
2 Corinthians 5:21
Ephesians 1:6, Matthew 3:17, 1 John 4:17
Luke 24:27, 2 Corinthians 3:18
© Vanessa A. Harris and The Legacy of Faith, 2011.