I grew up with a strong belief that God’s way was the best way ... and even if I wanted sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, I knew there was better for me. I deeply trusted that God saw every option available to me and looked out for me when he instructed against sin. I see proof of this in men like Solomon, who, even after experiencing wealth and a gajillion women, still concluded it was all meaningless. He had all the things some people dedicate their lives to (wealth, fame) and he concluded that God was right all along.
While traveling, I met wonderful people who partied excessively and chased every whim and high. There were rich people who had everything they wanted, and people who had lots of fame and influence (like Solomon), and yet at the end of our travels, I heard ‘There has to be more than this.’ They experienced the epitome of what the world could offer, but it wasn't enough for their souls. ((“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”- C.S. Lewis))
I haven't chased every drug or high, BUT I can say that every sin I've run to for comfort, joy, or love returned empty after some time.
Nothing in life truly satisfies unless it is Jesus. And I believe what He says is best. He knows everything and is wise.This is a strong belief of mine.
And while some things God says are concrete- like the no-sex thing, or the no-murder thing... I’ve taken the ‘God knows best’ principle and applied it to how I personally hear God in my prayer life.
So, when I hear Him say something to me in prayer, I trust that it is best. Sometimes, I hear God say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and I hear Him say what to do...a lot.
(Side note-- We all hear God in our own way. I know this because Jesus said His sheep hear His voice. If you say Jesus is Lord, then He speaks to you. Period. BUT He doesn't always speak the same way to everyone.)
If you don't believe God can talk to you outside of the pages of the Bible, think of this: When God told Noah to build the ark, there were no verses for Noah to read. It was just God's voice. When God told Ananias to go to Saul on Straight Street in Damascus with detailed ministry instructions, God wasn't speaking through the Bible. The Holy Spirit spoke through a vision. (Acts 9:10-19).
God speaks to us today concretely through the Bible, yes. But He isn't limited to speaking through the Bible to us. I believe He speaks through nudges, words, and gut feelings.
BUT in listening to God's voice:
I am finding myself taking on a lot of pressure to know for sure what He is saying..and then feeling confused and anxious. And that is what I wanted to address. I have taken my stubborn trust in God's word and I have applied it to what I am hearing God say in my prayer life.
I KNOW God knows best— and I believe He speaks, so I hold on so tightly to everything I hear. I've viewed it as 'partnering with God's plan.'
But the problem is- if I am wrong in how I hear Gods voice (which I have been before), I have said ‘no’ to some things that I would have really wanted... for nothing. I have turned away amazing opportunities because I thought it was a ‘no’ from God, or because I didn't hear a 'yes.' In this, I've been anxious that I will fail in following God- that God is trying to give me His best and I won't receive it because I can't discern perfectly.
I've told myself that if I had heard God better in the past or trusted in what I heard, I would have avoided so much pain. I blamed myself for not hearing God perfectly and I decided to try to listen better and more.
BUT what I have been realizing this week is My security cannot rely on my ability to hear/carry-out God’s specific directions.
I can only rest on GOD. And if I am resting on my ability to hear God, I am resting on ME. No wonder I’m stressed.
I’m not angry at myself for having this struggle. I truly believe this anxiety (though awful and sinful) shows my deep desire to follow God and to trust that He knows best. And for that desire, I am so thankful! If you are like me, give yourself some grace too.
But I have realized things need to change. I know the way I’m doing things now isn’t working.
So- like in all things- I need to return to resting on God... not my ability to hear Him, not His prophetic promises, BUT HIM and His ability to work things out. I pray that He takes care of things, and I REST on His ability to turn things around and work things out for me when I give it to Him. I trust in His goodness. And HOW I PARTNER WITH HIM IS TRUSTING THAT HE IS LOOKING OUT FOR ME... not by holding on anxiously to what He might be saying and trusting my hearing. I pray for grace, as I only hear in part. I also pray I hear well, without turning my trust from God to my own ability.
Mostly, I pray for Him to show me that the things-of-Him aren’t as fragile as I make them out to be, and I can trust Him. I can be restful in His arms as I try my best. He will work it out. Because hearing perfectly is way too much pressure, but resting in His goodness is exactly what I need.