Lately, I’ve been going outside on our lower deck just after the sun sets and the first star appears. The sky is always a glorious gradient of azure to midnight hues of blue, with one bright star directly in front of my face. It seems the perfect time to sit on the steps on my deck, with my spiral-bound journal, and ponder. It’s actually my time with Jesus and we just talk. The other night, I wondered out loud what I would tell my younger self. Pictured in my head were dozens of words of advice scrolling by like a ticker tape, but it only took a moment to stop on one.
Yes. In a nutshell, this was it. If my younger self understood this, many moments of confusion and conflict would have been avoided. As if I was sitting across the table from myself, I wrote these words:
"Pay attention to those thoughts and nudgings. You know what I'm talking about. The thoughts and gut intuitions you ignore, explain away, and doubt. God is talking to you. Religion is telling you that "one day" you can hear God, implying that it's not right now. Somehow it's insinuated you have to get better and more holy before you can hear from Him. But it's never explained when we arrive at that point where we hear from God. I'm here to tell you that YOU DO HEAR GOD. Not someday. Now. It has nothing to do with your age or what's going on in your life. Listen. Trust. Obey."
As I reflect on decisions and choices from my past, I can clearly see when God spoke to me, warned, whispered, tried to lead me, even as a little girl, but the older I got the more I doubted it was Him. I had allowed myself to believe that I couldn’t clearly hear God. I’d pray and seek God for direction, and when I got it, I threw it away. How silly of me! All because I doubted that it was His voice.
I DON’T TRUST MYSELF
So many of us say, “Oh, I don’t trust myself to hear God.”
Well, God didn’t tell us to put our trust in ourselves, He said to put our trust in Him and He WILL direct our steps. Faith is trusting that God is speaking to us and then stepping out in obedience. The key is humility and the fear of the Lord.
Will we make mistakes in our hearing? YES! But won’t we get better at hearing each time we obey?
To my younger self, I encourage you to step out in faith, believing that God leads you and that when you take a wrong step, He will quickly rescue. Going the wrong direction with the right heart, trusting in faith we are doing what God has asked, is a much better scenario than ignoring what we sense in our spirit because it seems more “logical” to do something our way. That is always a disaster.
Throw away your pros and cons list (that’s the definition of trusting OUR understanding) and sit in silence, with a notebook and Bible, and ask the Lord for His wisdom and direction. Then, don’t hesitate to do it! Read stories of people in scripture who asked the Lord for wisdom and realize God had people doing silly things all the time! None of it made sense: Marching in silence, blowing trumpets, putting torches in clay jars, getting lots of empty pots and pouring a few drops of oil in them, making food for someone else when you’re starving, filling pots with water when what they needed was wine, washing eyes with mud, standing at the edge of a sea while holding a stick over the water, striking a rock with a stick, throwing a stick on the ground, picking up a snake, putting blood on doorposts, opening a fish’s mouth and finding a coin, telling thousands of people you’re buying lunch but you have no money and only enough food for one person, building an ark…
Oh my goodness! It seems like our Lord has a terrific sense of humor. But really, don’t you think He asks us to do the illogical and silly just so that we can exercise our faith and know that it is Adonai leading us and meeting our needs – and not ourselves?
GOD DOES SPEAK TO YOU
As I reflect on and compare the various times in my life in which I did follow God’s direction versus ignoring what I heard He said and doing something different, the common difference was pride. When I obeyed those inward nudgings, even when it seemed silly, my eyes were fully on God and I didn’t care what other people thought. When I ignored the promptings in my spirit, it was because I was afraid of what people would say. Ironically, my decision to ignore the direction of the Lord didn’t preserve or benefit my reputation, it always did the opposite.
I wish I could take my younger self, sit her down, hold her hand, and encourage her to listen to that voice in her spirit. It IS God telling her which way to go and He is going to take care of her every step of the way. It can be scary and confusing trying to distinguish between our thoughts and God’s thoughts, but all I can say when discerning between what is you versus what is of the Spirit of God: keep your heart pure and humble. Submit to God, resist the enemy, and he will flee from you. Seek the Kingdom of God in everything and trust that He is leading you. But, ultimately, it comes down to this one thing:
BELIEVE GOD DOES SPEAK TO YOU!