How does one hear God’s call? In the course of my interviews with nearly 50 women in ministry from ten countries, several have talked about hearing a voice in their head. No one I have spoken to has heard an audible voice; but it is not uncommon among the interviewees to have sensed an inner voice with a a clear message from outside of herself.
If you told someone you are hearing voices in your head, they may wonder about you. For the women who have talked about how they have been given spiritual direction in their lives—they believe it comes right from God.
How does God communicate to us? How does the Holy Spirit work, as Luther wrote, “to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify” people?
One striking story about this sort of thing came out of a coffee conversation at the home of several Lutheran nuns in Wittenberg, Germany. Yes, I said, "Lutheran nuns." They live near the Town Church, and are part of a larger order of about 150 sisters called the Community Christusbruderschaft Selbitz. (Most live in Selbitz, Germany.) The order also has a small number of monks located in Halle, Germany.
One of the nuns told the story about how she came to the order. She had sensed an interest in experiencing life in the convent on a trial basis. At the time she enjoyed a very good job with the government, played the organ and piano at her church, giving lessons on the side. She decided to try out the convent for the testing period of five months, but afterward, she was convinced it was not for her. Listen to her story as translated by our tour guide.
The small group of Lutheran nuns in Wittenberg live in community and have committed to a life of poverty, chastity, and service. They assist in the daily prayer services at the Town Church. They are visible in the community, and enjoy conversations with people who seek them out. One spoke about recent interactions with Syrian refugees who have settled in Germany recently.
Our group enjoyed our time with the sisters. They were wonderful hosts, kind and generous with their time. They feel called to listen, to pray, and to be present with people who are suffering, or in need. The model of accompaniment, walking with others through life, is their vocation. From all indications, they seem not only content, but joyful, in their life of service to God and the neighbor.