Remember the game Marco Polo? We played it at the pool almost every day of the long, hot summers in Southeast Alabama. It’s basically a call-and-response game—on land called Blind Man’s Bluff. The point is there’s an outcast, the “it,” who with eyes closed, calls out “Marco.” The others play by responding “Polo.” “It” must close his/her eyes and find the other players by sound only. No peeking. And once a player is tagged, he or she becomes “it.”
Now, why this game is named after that 13th-century explorer is still a mystery. Wikipedia (which, of course, is a totally reliable source) suggests that the game was so named because Marco Polo had no clue where he was going. He just struck out blindly to explore the globe and drifted where the wind blew him. Okay. Maybe.
The spiritual connection (and there always is one) is that when we can’t see God working in us or in the world, we must stop and listen. Eyes closed and opened ears.
Today it seems there are more and more societal voices than ever trying to drown out each other. Some are shouting and some are whispering to us, but they’re all vying for our attention. Not only do many of them want us to listen to them, but they want us to buy into their message. Follow their lead. So, how do we tell which voice to follow? How do we know which is the right way to go?
When bankers learn how to identify counterfeit money, they first handle the real thing enough times so they can know when the false bills come across their stations. In this context, listen to His voice, through reading scripture and asking in prayer, enough times that you’ll know it when you hear it.
Another analogy on this subject was spoken by Jesus Himself. It had to do with sheep. He said, recorded in John10 (The Message paraphrase):
“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”
The game of Marco Polo has another dimension: when “it” thinks that one of the other players has left the pool, he yells “Fish out of water!” That disqualifies the player. For believers, choosing to be on the periphery of God’s will is like being a fish out of water; it is confusing and makes it hard to hear Him.
So test the real thing enough times so that you can discern when the voice of Truth is speaking.