Newcomers to this site may not know that my primary source of income is television sports directing. Soon I will head into another season of Major League Baseball with my beloved Texas Rangers. Reading the positive reports from spring training has me excited about this season. I picked up the paper today and found a Peanuts cartoon that hit the nail on the head on a couple of levels. Peanuts creator Charles Schultz loved the Lord and loved baseball. That should qualify him for sainthood in my scorebook.
This particular strip has Charley Brown standing on the mound ready for the first game of spring. Charley Brown loves baseball more than any character on the planet except my friend John Frost. Charley raises his arms in triumphant joy and exclaims, “I love the start of baseball season.”
In the next panel he has a nostalgic smile and notes, “There’s a certain indescribable feeling in the air.” From rightfield Lucy decides to add her feelings about what is in the air. “Defeat!”, she shouts to Charlie Brown.
Isn’t that what most of us deal with from time to time? Or maybe all of the time. We feel excitement. We feel triumphant. We feel optimistic. And then that voice from rightfield tells us that defeat is certain. That voice can be programmed from childhood. Negative parents, teachers, coaches, siblings, friends (?), other Christians (?) and assorted others have laid down tracks on our mix of negative thoughts. But another voice that believers hear is the voice of Satan.
One thing is certain as you follow Jesus. If you are doing something for the Lord you can count on hearing from the Enemy. I get letters and emails and stories nearly every day from heartbroken people in the church. It almost always starts out the same way. I was serving Jesus and it was going great and then…
Another churchgoer did or said something.
Someone took my place or took me out of my place.
I didn’t get appreciated or honored.
I was disappointed by someone or something.
Then the voice jumps in. And the voice starts telling you what you want to hear. That they should never have said that or did that if they were really a Christian. Or you deserve that spot, not them. Or how dare they take you from that position? Maybe the voice reminds you of how hard you work and no one cares. Or how others don’t work and you have to do it all and they still don’t care. That voice is not the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. That voice is the one yelling “defeat” from rightfield. That voice is the one robbing you of your joy in serving Jesus. Let’s be honest. If we are serving Christ to honor Him we should be serving without expectation. Have I done that really well? No. Am I getting better? A little bit.
But if I approach my service without expectation then it is about Him and not me. I am always ready to reverse the pronouns. If I offer to serve and I am not picked…praise God. He knows my heart and knows that I had an unselfish desire to serve. If my four decades of following Jesus have taught me anything it is that God will honor that spirit. Don’t let that “voice” ruin your walk with Jesus. There is another voice. It is much softer and requires a lot more effort to hear. You have to slow down and be quiet and spend time in prayer and God’s Word. Casting Crowns has a great song called the “Voice of Truth” that describes this spiritual battle.
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again, "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"
The song goes on to describe that other voice.
But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of Truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth
Jesus had to deal with that voice. Three times He was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4). The very men who Jesus invested His life into heard that voice and made ungodly suggestions. James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy a town that did not welcome them. Jesus rebuked them. And Peter got his hair parted when he tried to explain to Jesus that the events the Lord had just outlined really couldn’t happen.
But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. Matt 16 NLT
All of us hear those voices. The voices from bad experiences in our past may require a little help to erase. Here is a little tip that I have learned. The voice we hear in the spiritual battle is the loud one. Listen for the quiet voice. Be still. Pray. Read His Word. The Voice of Truth says, “This is for my glory.” That is a plumbline for righteous action. Is it for His glory? That is what the Voice of Truth tells you.
I am choosing to listen and believe the Voice of Truth.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com