What’s God Saying To Me?
Faced with major life decisions, we would really like to know God’s will for us. We hear a cacophony of voices influencing our decisions including parents, professors, and peers. Ancient Christians teach us that three main categories of voices compete with God’s voice: the world, the flesh, and the devil. We must learn to recognize God’s voice to get wisdom.
How do you hear God’s voice? Many books have been written on this subject, so I will only touch lightly on it. I heartily recommend Willard’s Hearing God, which has helped me tremendously.
God speaks in many ways. But if we do not expect him to speak we probably won’t hear him, like a radio that is not tuned in to a station. It may broadcast day and night but never be heard.
So how does God speak to us? Elijah looked for God in the hurricane, earthquake, and fire, but God spoke in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). A friend of mine visited several college campuses to discern where she would work on InterVarsity staff, but she kept getting an impression of the name of a far away Muslim country. She spent two years there planting a new student movement, and met God powerfully during that time.
Jonah also heard the still, small voice—and went to a far away country to escape God (Jonah 1:1-3). Sometimes I wonder why I can’t hear God’s voice, then realize that I have not obeyed what I have heard God say.
God speaks to us in other ways: the Bible offers the clear, sure wisdom of God, and though it’s not usually be tailored to our specific situation, we gain confidence by knowing the clear boundaries of God’s will it lays out.
Advisors, mentors, and our community have incredible wisdom, but we seldom seek it. “Without counsel plans go wrong, but with many advisors they succeed” (Prov. 15:22). Don’t overlook your parents as advisors! You may not like their wonderful plan for your life, but they will probably surprise you with perspectives, questions, or experiences which turn out to be gems for you.
Our passions, gifts and personality often offer more personal clues as to God’s leading. God will tend to lead us, over time, towards what he uniquely crafted us for, though it often feels like we’re on the scenic route. The pattern of God’s work in our lives can bring clarity about the next step; spend some time reflecting on your life to see what patterns emerge. Life circumstances, such as what job offers we get (or not), certainly provide direction as well.
In 1994 Dr. Elizabeth Glanville, assistant professor of leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, started a list of different ways that people hear God, both in Scripture and in contemporary life. As of 2005 she has listed over 40 ways God speaks. Why should we be surprised? God is a person, and more creative than any human being. Of course he is not limited in how he speaks!