The trial was in its final days.
Ms. Gentry had been questioned by the defense, and Prosecutor Hand had cross-examined her, but he wasn’t finished.
Hand stood before the witness stand, and Ms. Gentry blanched at the question.
“Did you hear me?” Hand delighted in pummeling defense witnesses. “I’ll ask you again: Does God talk to you?”
Ms. Gentry smoothed nonexistent wrinkles in her skirt.
The prosecutor floated toward the jurors, making eye contact with each one.
“When did you first start hearing from the Man Upstairs?”
“When I was a child, about five years old, I think.”
“Tell us about it, please.”
“I was sitting on my father’s lap when I heard–or maybe ‘felt’ is a better word–someone speaking in the depths of my soul: ‘I am like him,’ it said.”
“The voice belonged to God, and I knew He meant my Dad. My father wrapped his arms around me, and I remember thinking that I wanted our closeness to last forever.”
“So, you believe that you have special powers to hear God?”
Hand glanced at the jury foreman, and they shared a mutual smirk.
“No, I don’t have special powers. I think anyone can hear God’s voice if they’re listening…”
“Have you heard God speak to you on other occasions?”
“Oh, yes. Especially when I read the Bible.”
“You must have really good ears…”
Snickers erupted in the courtroom, and the defense objected, but Hand’s faux pas had its desired effect. The woman’s credibility was teetering. Hand’s subtleties edged the jurors closer to affirming this witness as a crackpot, or, at least, unreliable.
Hand plotted an after-dinner brandy between thoughts, then asked, “Were there other times that you heard God speak so… clearly?”
Ms. Gentry took a deep breath. “I recall another time when God spoke plainly–I was 14, at home in bed, and a voice said, ‘You’ll face hard things, but I’m with you. Everything will be okay…”
Ms. Gentry’s voice cracked when she said it. She paused, then continued, “God’s voice touched me with pure compassion and comfort and…”
Hand interrupted, “So God speaks to you aloud–like you and I are speaking now?”
“No. It’s internal, like listening to a whisper coming from the bottom of a well.”
She unconsciously laid a hand on her tummy. “The day after I heard God speak those words to me, my father died.”
Hand glanced at the jury. Their eyes wrapped the witness in empathy.
“We’re sorry for your loss,” Hand offered, and it sounded lame even to him.
“So how did your father die?”
“He was killed in a car accident.”
“Would you say that this tragedy has affected your life?”
“Did you begin hearing from God more regularly after your father’s death, Ms. Gentry?”
“I did–yes–after my father went to be with Jesus.”
A sympathetic smile played about Hand’s lips, and he nodded.
“And God talks to you when you read the Bible…”
“When I read Scripture I feel the way I did when I sat on my father’s lap–that’s the only way to describe it. Dad is gone, but my Father still holds me. From the well of my soul God speaks, and I know it’s Him.”
Prosecutor Hand turned on his heel and ambled toward the jurors. “How else does God speak to you, Ms. Gentry?”
“Often through people.”
“Help me understand, this: You mean, like a ventriloquist speaks through a puppet? Or like Chucky?”
Hand grinned, but none of the jurors joined him.
“No, sir. It’s like I’m watching scenes in a play. God holds scenes in his hands and turns them like a carousel so that I can observe every facet and flaw. I learn from other people’s successes and mistakes.”
“Do these people hear God too?”
“If they are listening.”
“Then I should be able to hear Jesus right now?”
The witness smiled and nodded.
Is that a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ Ms. Gentry?”
The defense’s star witness captivated the jurors. Her reliability would be the key to their final verdict, and Hand grew impatient.
“How else does God speak to you, Ms. Gentry?” False pity dripped from Hand’s lips.
“Christ fills me with peace, and He gives me words to comfort others, too. He teaches me through mentors and…” She smiled: “God speaks to me through the beauty and order of His Creation.
“But Ms. Gentry, how do you know you are hearing God’s voice?”
“I recognize God’s voice by placing the words I hear beside His revealed word–the Bible. The two must harmonize. That’s how I know the voice I hear is genuine–and not Chucky’s…”
Hand laughed with the jurors, conceding a point to Ms. Gentry.
She continued, “God’s voice sounds the same as when He spoke to me on my father’s lap. The same as when He reassured me the day before my father died.”
Tears filled the young woman’s eyes, and the prosecutor made a final effort to regain the upper hand.
“Are you hearing God now, Ms. Gentry?”
“He says He loves you, Mr. Hand.”
“You hear God telling you that?”
The prosecutor stared hard at witness Gentry.
He was hearing it too. It was less than a whisper, but powerful enough to erase all strategies from his mind.
“No further questions, Your Honor,” he said, and the judge chuckled.
“I think we’ll recess until tomorrow. You’re excused, young lady.”
The jurors filed out. The prosecutor gathered papers with trembling fingers.
“God bless you, Mr. Hand,” witness Gentry said as she passed.
Prosecutor Hand nodded nervously, consumed by a whisper that wasn’t his own.
Jesus often addresses us in a whisper that rocks our world. He speaks to us through expressions, connections, impressions, reflections, indications, and demonstrations. But we must never ascribe any “voice” to God until we measure the counsel and instruction received–by His written word, the Bible.