Which Voice Are You Listening To?

origin resurrection 2017

Last Sunday I played in the orchestra for an event celebrating Easter.  It was a wonderful evening with almost 2000 people gathering to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and worship him together.

The orchestra had only rehearsed together for the first time that day, but it came together well and the music sounded great.  There was one moment though that was a bit of a disappointment, at least from my perspective.

I was playing clarinet, and in one of the pieces near the beginning of the concert, I was to play the introduction while the string section played an accompaniment.  I saw that the conductor was ready to begin so I raised my instrument to my mouth, ready to play, when suddenly the oboist leaned over and whispered to me:

“We’re not doing that part just now.”

I was confused.  I was pretty sure that we were, but he had planted a doubt in my mind.  We were playing a slightly different version of the same piece later in the concert and there was just a chance that I had got it wrong.

I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by playing in the wrong place so I turned to try to check with someone else, but everything happened too quickly.  The conductor had started the piece, and I realised that we were indeed doing that part just now, except I wasn’t playing, and because I was now so flustered, it took a few moments to figure out where we were and to join in.

It was a frustrating start to the concert.  I doubted that the audience would have noticed, but I was annoyed with myself that I knew I was meant to play and yet I didn’t, that I had listened to the voice that caused me to doubt, instead of holding on to what I knew to be true.

It struck me that music is not the only area where this can be a problem.

How often do I allow someone else’s opinion to sway me from the truth?

How often do I know what God is calling me to do, but allow myself to be sidetracked by the voice of doubt and fear?

The voice can be sneaky.  Like the oboist’s comment it comes at the last moment, just as we’re about to take action.  It plants just enough doubt to paralyse us, and prevent us from moving forward.

The voice is often well-intentioned, or at least it appears that way.  I have no reason to believe that the oboist’s remark was motivated by anything other than genuine concern that I was about to play in the wrong place.  Sometimes the voice can seem like common sense or helpful advice, but it can distract us from what we are meant to be doing.

Lately the voice has been bothering me about my writing.  I have the chance to submit a piece of writing for publication in an anthology.  It is something I really want to do, and I know exactly what I want to write about, but every time I sit down to work on it, the voice begins:

“Don’t waste your time…  It will never be accepted…  There are far better writers than you submitting to this…  You don’t stand a chance…  Save yourself a bit of pain and don’t even try…  You’ll only be disappointed…  What makes you think you can do it?… Just give up now…”

It’s easy to listen to the voice, especially when its intention seems to be to save me from disappointment, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that it doesn’t sound like the voice of God.

God never calls us to play it safe out of doubt or fear.  He calls us to step out in faith, trusting him to lead us.  He never calls us to self-protection, but he asks us to take a risk and to depend on him.

We can’t always know how it will turn out.  If I submit this piece there is no guarantee it will be accepted.  Realistically I have no idea what my chances are, but there is one thing I do know for sure:  I will definitely not have a piece accepted unless I take action and actually submit one!

When we step out in faith there’s always the chance we could be wrong, but it’s a risk we have to take.  One thing I have learned from my experience at the concert is that I would rather have gone for it, even if I was wrong, than be left sitting there, hearing the music continue without me, knowing I was meant to be part of it but that I let doubt get in the way.

I would rather be like Peter stepping out onto the water, whatever the outcome, than be like one of the disciples playing it safe and sitting in the boat.

And to make that choice, I have to be intentional about which voice I listen to.  I need to tune out the voice of doubt, and turn my focus instead to the voice of truth.

What about you?  Where do you find the voice of doubt pulling you off course?  What helps focus you on the voice of truth?


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37 thoughts on “Which Voice Are You Listening To?

  1. Love this! So much so. Not your struggle, but the wisdom. I could imagine myself responding like you in that moment.

    God gave me a Scripture to go with my One Word joy – and it was about hearing the Voice of the Bridegroom and that being the key to the JOY. I am going to go back to that word “hear” because often in the Bible if you look at its root meaning it means both hearing and doing, if I remember this correctly.

    Oh how I recognize your struggle. It’s been the thing my therapy has isolated as my biggest struggle – not doing what I want to do and know is right to do – being frozen by the words of others. I’m praying through this struggle.

    LORD give Lesley and I both the courage and boldness to do what YOU are calling us to. Keep our eyes and ears open to YOU above all else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Anna! I’ve just started reading a book called “The Listening Life” and it points out the link between hearing and doing in the Bible as well! Praying for you too that you will hear and respond to God’s voice above all else!


      1. Hope you enjoy the book! Look forward to hearing what you think! I assume you know about the book club on Linda’s site?
        (If anyone else wants to check it out there is a book club looking at this book beginning next week at http://lindastoll.net .


  2. Lesley, it is amazing how just one whispered comment can create so much doubt. Yet we all hear the comment so loudly in our heads, don’t we? Praying that we would hear God’s Word more loudly than any other word. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joanne! Yes, those voices can seem so loud sometimes, whether they come from others or from ourselves. We definitely have to be intentional about recognising God’s voice and focussing on it.


  3. Oh, cringe!
    But you’ve redeemed the moment with this wonderful application.
    I want to practice this carefully, because hearing the right voice (THE Voice) makes all the difference in those last minute moments of uncertainty.
    Thanks, Lesley!
    (And I played the clarinet, too! Someday I want to dust it off!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, not my best moment, but at least I managed to learn something positive from it! Choosing to listen to THE voice does make a big difference! And yes, you should get your clarinet out again one day- it’s just a shame we don’t live closer!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope you send your piece in – that you shut out the neigh-saying thoughts that cause you to doubt. Those same thoughts try to undermine me, too – and I have learned to just push through. Usually, God helps give me that push, too! Your story about the concert – I’ve not played in a concert – but have had similar things happen – and, oh, how it torments the heart! But, thankfully, God keeps encouraging!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your encouragement! I am planning to send the piece in- I just need to finish writing it! I think I’d rather know I gave it a shot, even if it is rejected, than that I let the doubt hold me back from trying.
      I’m glad that God doesn’t give up on us when we falter but that he keeps encouraging us to take steps of faith!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ugh…I’ve done things like that before too! Sometimes it’s good to trust our own gut instinct, but other times it’s good to listen to others. You’re right that stepping out in faith when we hear God’s voice is the right thing to do. I’m sure the concert was beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It only takes one small voice to knock us over with doubt. I’m glad the concert continued on but I relate to how I let myself be swayed by naysayers. I also let that voice speak in my head too loudly and begin to believe it.

    Thank your for the truth that God never calls us to play it safe but to step out bravely. Yes and amen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mary! Yes, one small voice can be powerful in making us doubt and preventing us from doing what we know we should. I know stepping out bravely is something God has taught you a lot about over the last couple of years and I’m grateful for your encouragement in this!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Lesley, I so identify with listening “to the voice that caused me to doubt, instead of holding on to what I knew to be true.” Sadly, sometimes even ignoring what I felt deep in my heart was what God tells me. I so easily sway and think I must be mistaken. I hope God will help you hear His Voice above all those taunting negative voices concerning whether or not to submit your writing! Thank you for encouraging us to focus on the Voice of Truth! I love that song, and it’s so good to be reminded of it! Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Trudy! I’m sorry you struggle with this too! Praying that God will help you too to focus on his voice of truth over all the other voices that would try to plant doubt or fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lesley,
    LOVE this song by Casting Crowns….I will CHOOSE to listen to the Voice of Truth. I can choose what I will receive and what I will reject. The enemy bellows really loud, though. But, if the words I’m hearing don’t match up with HIS Word, then I have permission to cast the lies and the liar to the curb. Great reminder!
    Bev xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Bev! Yes, I think remembering that we can (and need to) choose the voice we listen to is important. The enemy’s voice is too loud otherwise.


  9. Lesley, such good truth here! I’ve been the one who listens to the wrong voice too. Sometimes it seems like I have to get sick enough of listening to the wrong voice before I determine in my mind I’m going to listen to the right one, no matter what the cost.

    God never calls us to play it safe out of doubt or fear.

    This so spoke to my heart. God often calls us into the deeps, to those places where we can’t stand on our own. Because that’s when we lean into Him and learn to hear His voice.

    LOVED this post, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lesley,
    You should definitely submit your writing piece! I love it that you’re considering taking the risk and seeing what happens! 🙂 And wow — your orchestra playing completely impresses me! But more than that, I love the words of this post because it’s so true that we listen to voices that may sound helpful but just confuse us and lead to missteps, like your helpful musician friend! It’s hard for me sometimes to separate advice from truth and sort through what God might be nudging me to do, but when we look to him for direction, we can take the next step. Loved this! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Valerie! It’s definitely not always easy to recognise God’s voice in the midst of all the other voices around us!


  11. Great post Lesley! Yes I can relate to this with my writing & blog as well… the enemy would have us believe we have no real purpose in it! But if God has called us then He has had a purpose for our writing all along!

    When this happens I go for a walk with the Lord & everything falls into place!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That Easter orchestra sounds beautiful. Such a good example of all the ways in life when we don’t go for it. I hope you submit your writing! Why not you?! Be sure to update us on that! Lovely reflection, Lesley. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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