All too often I am absolutely certain that the Holy Spirit is speaking, even as I am absolutely unable to locate the pitch and timbre, content and clarity of that voice.
There's this song in the ELW hymnal that repeats the line, "Listen! Listen God is calling, through the Word inviting, offering forgiveness, comfort, and joy." If only it were that easy. Sometimes I think the problem I face with discernment is that we think we have to just listen better in order to figure out where and to what God is calling us.
But remember that, when God called Samuel, he thought it was the voice of Eli. And when the serpent spoke to Eve and Adam, they listened as though God were speaking.
All too often, we mistake God's voice for the voice of authority or the voice that tells us what we want to hear. Whatever that is, it is not discernment.
Rather than the voice of our authorities, the Holy Spirit often speaks through those to whom we are least likely to listen. All too often, I'm listening for the voice of Eli rather than the voice of the Holy Spirit. All too often, I'm listening for what I want to hear.
But the timbre of the Spirit's voice heralds the Kingdom of God. The pitch of the Spirit's voice rises above norms of injustice. The content of the Spirit's voice carries peace in the midst of a culture of violence. And the clarity of the Spirit's voice speaks to the reconciliation of all things to Jesus.
If we listen for that, rather than for power or authority or temptation, perhaps we - perhaps I - will better find the voice of the Spirit in our world. Of course, that takes work, and so the voice of the Spirit is not easily discernible. But it is a discernment that is worth the work.