So many of you may not know this but I work for the missions department of a fairly well known ministry. My job is to basically assist in whatever needs to be done to prepare for upcoming ministry trips to foreign countries. One of my major responsibilities involves talking with folks on the phone about the trip, answer questions, taking payments, etc. The other day a man called me and just started telling me this whole story about how he and his wife both felt they were supposed to sell all of their stuff and minister in a foreign country. After about twenty minutes of him sharing the events that led up to these thoughts, he asks me, "So basically, I was just wondering...how do you know when you're hearing God? Do you think I am?"
I kind of sat there for a second, dumbfounded. This was not in my job description. I was terrified to answer because, in this moment, I am representing the ministry and there could be repercussions if I tell this man to do something crazy and it doesn't turn out well. So answered as honestly as I could:
"Well...that's kind of hard to say. I have made some crazy decisions in my life. Some of them have worked out well...some of them, not so much. I sort of look at it this way; our entire lives are basically one big giant act of faith. We have been giving the freewill to choose how we want to live our lives. If we feel God is leading us in one direction or the other, it’s our decision whether or not we want to act upon that leading. We make moves, choices, based on the level of our faith. Sometimes they appear to have been the right ones. Sometimes they appear to be a big old mess. But the great part is that we have a God faithful enough to handle the messes that we make. I always ask for confirmation in three places: the Word, wise counsel of someone I trust and a dream. But at the end of day, there is no way to be absolutely sure. We walk by faith, not by sight and I chose to follow where there is peace. He knows your intentions and that you mean to be obedient. No matter what, He loves you and He is rooting for you to succeed."
He seemed to be satisfied with that answer but after we hung up his question still hung with me. How do we know when the Lord is speaking? How do you know it’s not just your own ideas getting louder?
I have made a lot of crazy decisions with my life. I made them because I felt they were the Lord's desire. Some were met with encouragement. Many were met with skepticism. Some were even met with anger. I had no idea when I was making some of these decisions how they were going to turn out. All I knew was that something had to be done because these thoughts were like burning flames in my heart. Some of them, I know now, were actually very selfish and self-serving, disguised as the will of God. But at the end of the day, I'm human. I will make about a million and a half decision is my life that will end in failure compared to probably a few dozen that will end in glory. But man...those that do...have and will change my life in some amazing ways. That's what its all about. Walking in faith. Choosing to live a life that is less planned at it is just experienced. Make mistakes. Learn from them. Just please don't be so afraid to screw up that you never experience what you were truly meant for. I did for so long...it was hell.
I'm not saying things are any easier now. I doubt the Lord and myself constantly. But then every once in awhile, when I get really quiet and still, I can almost hear Him scribbling away on some parchment, planning what to do with me next. He's mapping out which doors He's going to open and where they will lead. I see Him, sitting at this big drafting table, His hand moving furiously across it as He's making something of my mess. He's talented. He has a lot of experience. He has great references. I can trust Him. So I just move. I create. I breathe. I make messes, hoping that every once in awhile I will get it right but knowing, there really is no true wrong.
Take time to find out what you are really living for. Take time to decide if you know what it means to hear the voice of the Lord and whether or not you have the courage to listen. Then you can say to Him, " If you have something to say...say it to me now."
"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."
Romans 8:26-28, the MSG