Did you know I live on a cliff, across the street from a forest? I wander the woods daily, always expecting to see a big or little critter. I’ve see bears, bobcats, coyotes, deer, snakes, shrews, squirrels, owls and tourists — and yesterday I imagined seeing monkeys swinging from tree to tree, high above my head, shrieking and laughing. They’d fit right in.
Sometimes I even see my neighbors.
“Have you seen the owls?” asked a neighbor who often walks her pugs in the woods.
“Yes! I love watching them fly in the forest,” I said. “They have a giant wingspan, yet they soar and dive through the trees. One even swooped down at Little Dog, hoping to pick up breakfast.”
“And the Owl Whisperer?” she asked. “Have you seen her?”
“Hmmm…an ‘Owl Whisperer’?” I said. “For the past couple of years, I’ve seen a lady taking photographs of the owls…but I wouldn’t call her an ‘Owl Whisperer.’ I’d call her a photographer.”
“No, she’s a true Owl Whisperer!” my neighbor said. “She knows how to talk to owls, and how to hear what they’re saying to her.”
The Owl Whisperer
Walking in a different forest the next morning, I heard baby owls chirping for their breakfast. I heard the owl parents calling out for food — but not the “hoot hoots” you hear at dusk and dawn. Hungry hunting owls make a long, whistle-type sound to draw mice, rats and squirrels out of their nests. I followed the nearest whistle-type sound, looked up, and voila! An owl just above my head, not even looking at me.
I heard another whistle-type sound, a few hundred feet away. I climbed over a few logs and waded through a few ferns, looked up, and voila! An owl staring down at me. I took a few pictures, waited for 10 minutes to see if he’d show off his forest-flying skills, and then decided to move along.
Back on the path, the photographer was kneeling on the ground. She was quietly taking her camera supplies and tripod out of her bags, setting up for the day’s shoot.
“There are two owls over there,” I whispered. “I didn’t see the nest of baby owls, but it isn’t far.”
“And there’s another one, back there,” she whispered.
I walked along a few more feet, and voila! A third owl.
Is the photographer truly an “Owl Whisperer”? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think she simply knows how to walk slowly, listen carefully, and respond when she hears the owls call out.
Echoes of Jesus
Hearing God’s voice can be as simple as hearing owls hooting in the forest. God wants to be heard — just like owls want their whistle-type sounds to be heard by squirrels and mice. God is not trying to hide His will, play games, or trick you into making the wrong choice. God has lovingly and lavishly poured His Holy Spirit into you! He wants you to hear, respond and live with freedom, joy, and peace.
You don’t need to be a “Jesus Whisper” to hear His voice. You don’t need special gifts, skills, abilities, education or experience. You don’t need expensive equipment, specialized training, or even plans for the future. You don’t need to know how things will turn out, or what will happen, or how you’ll deal with it.
All you need is to be willing to walk slowly, listen carefully, and respond willingly.
Walking slowly requires you to take time away from the distractions of this world — distractions you’re so used to, you barely even notice how much time, energy, and resources they consume.
Being willing to walk slowly means you can’t rush ahead of Jesus
Let Him go first. Jesus knows the way; He’s already been there. Trust the Holy Spirit to nudge, whisper, call you forward. Take one step. Stand and look around. If you don’t feel a sense of restraint, take another step. That’s walking slowly.
Listening carefully requires you to be quiet
When was the last time you sat in silence for five minutes? Try it. You don’t need absolute silence; you can “sit in silence” when you’re walking on a noisy street, standing on a crowded bus or subway, or even watching a live hockey game or rock concert. In fact, those are the best types of places to practice being quiet and hearing God’s voice because that’s normal everyday life.
You don’t need silence to hear God…you just need a quiet mind and a willing spirit.
Responding willingly means you’ll disrupt your life and maybe even upset people
Sharing what you hear and see — letting your light shine — won’t always be received with joy, love, peace and acceptance. For example, I received an angry email from a friend after I wrote What to Remember When It’s Hard to Follow Jesus – Matthew 4. Sometimes I think Christians are so busy trying to hear God’s voice that they don’t actually step out in faith. Why? Because it’s hard. It’s uncomfortable, difficult and disruptive to stop doing what everyone else is doing and live the way you believe Jesus is telling you to.
Try it! Go by yourself to a forest or a park. Look around, listen carefully, and be amazed at what God has created to share with you. Point out what you see to other people. They might call you an Owl Whisperer — or worse — but you’ll know the truth. You’re simply walking slowly, listening carefully, and responding willingly.
With His love,