Voices – Part 1 Who’s Talking Now

There are many voices that speak to us besides God’s voice.  Part of learning how to discern God’s voice is learning to recognize the other voices that are simultaneously speaking to us.

There is the voice of the world telling us we need this, that, and the other thing.  Or worse yet, we need to be this, that, and the other thing. It compares us to everyone else and when infinity is the standard of course we will never keep up.  I personally find it difficult to keep up with Suzy homemaker, the Proverbs 31 women, entrepreneur, entertaining teacher, concerned friend, perfect parent and being a sex goddess…all with a smile.  The world speaks to us in “should’s”.   You should have this.  You should be that.   This voice can come from television, friends, husbands, children, and culture.

Then there is the voice of our own desire.  Desire, per se, isn’t wrong.  In fact, much desire is God-given.  He gives us our talents, abilities, and desires which helps define our purpose. He gives good gifts like marriage, children, homes, food, and work that are good to desire.  The problem comes when we are willing to do the wrong thing to get our desire and we short circuit the process and grab after the blessing.   It’s important to realize that when a blessing is grabbed, stolen, demanded, or manipulated, it actually becomes a curse to us.  Think of Jacob and Esau or Abraham and Sarah.  Our desire gone astray says, “I must have this now or else.”   This includes but is not limited to, “I must have a spiritual husband, smiling children, and perfectionism”.

The third voice is that of the enemy, that is Satan and his demonic minions.  The enemy’s voice comes by condemnation and lies.  It usually also comes with mocking.    The condemnation tends to be vague.  It says, “you’re a loser” or “seriously, you think you can do that?”  There isn’t really anything tangible to repent of.  If there is something tangible to it, it is a voice that says, “Remember your past or where you come from…you will never be better than that.”  And the lies that are hurled at us are crazy!  When I was eight years old, I found out my older, straight-A, brother had read an entire encyclopedia set when he was five years old.  I thought that not only was I already behind, but I must not be very smart because I didn’t even want to read an encyclopedia set.  I believed the lie that I wasn’t smart enough so why try into my forties! Not. Even. Kidding.

Sometimes all of the voices speak at once and confusion sets in.  If we are going to learn how to hear God, we must be able to discern the voices and respond appropriately.  To the world’s voice we learn to say, “I am content and I am enough.”  To the voices of desire we simply give these desires to the Lord and learn to wait on Him.  And to the voice of the enemy we say, “shut up” and we don’t even have to be nice about it.  Then we cock our heads to the left and wait.  “Speak to me, Lord, I’m listening.”

Who is talking to you today?

God Speaks Personally

As long as I can remember I have believed that God has a plan for me.  I have been confident that he has a mega purpose including things like who my husband would be, my vocation, where I go to church, etc.  But I didn’t expect Him to talk to me daily on a personal level and fellowship with me.  Ps. 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”  Now, this might be crazy, but I interpret that to mean that He will instruct me and teach me in the way I should go and will counsel me because He sees me.  He knows my story, He knows my purpose, and He will guide me.  If I’m listening for this, I won’t miss it.

There are those in the church that believe God doesn’t speak to us personally today.  They believe that he only speaks to us through The Bible and we have to figure out how to apply it to our lives. Suffice it to say here that this doesn’t make much sense if we are to have fellowship with Him.  Fellowship is just that…companionship, friendliness, camaraderie, intimacy, partnership.  Why would He give us the Spirit if the Spirit isn’t going to speak to us?  The problem for me when I began this journey was I needed to learn how to listen.

I did have a habit of praying and talking to Him, but I didn’t actually believe He would speak to me so I wasn’t even listening.  What I have learned is that He doesn’t speak to me with an audible voice.  The best way I can explain it is that He speaks to me more with impressions.  I needed to learn how to discern those impressions.  This took me at least a couple of years to learn and perhaps I am still learning.  The first hurdle to conquer is a belief that He will speak to us.

Do you recognize His voice?  Are you listening?

God Calls Us to Good Works

Now I am learning to ask the Lord for His expectations and rest in my work, my ministry, my hobbies, and my day. 

Besides my vocation, I can keep myself busy with all kinds things.  There are literally hundreds of good works to do in my church and in my city alone, not to mention sports activities, kid activities, Bible studies, and visiting with friends.  Then there are hobbies!  The Pinterest cite alone is enough to make the strongest of egos cower in self-loathing by telling me I am not enough.  And don’t even get me started talking about on my reading list.  The question I am learning to ask is, “What do You want me to do, Lord?”

I believe God does have a calling or purpose for each of us.  He calls us both to a vocation and he calls us to a ministry in the church.  Sometimes our vocation can be our ministry.  I also believe He has a ‘way’ for us to walk.  Psalm 25:12 says,  “Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.” (NASB)  God has instruction for us.  That is awesome news, because sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.  He just doesn’t instruct us in the major items of life either, John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (NASB)  Seriously?  We can hear His voice?  He knows me personally and will lead me?  Absolutely!  Some people will say that God doesn’t speak to us today, or that we can only hear Him through the Bible.  But that is not what I read in the Scriptures.

O.K…Are you ready for a mind-blower?  1 Cor. 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (ESV)  How can we have fellowship if we can’t talk to and be spoken to?  The God of the universe, the maker of all that there is, wants to have fellowship with you through His son Jesus Christ.  Mind. Blown.

Here’s the point…I can have a conversational relationship with the God of the universe who leads me in good works.  When He is leading me in good works, I can rest knowing that I have been enough.  I don’t have to answer all the voices in the world that are saying I am not enough.  I don’t have to keep up with the Jones’.   I can use Pinterest to help me, but not become a slave to the false reality of the perfect life.

The difference I have found is this…I use to strive all week or month long in order to fulfill my own list of expectations. Then (exhausted) I was forced to retreat and do nothing in order to regroup for another long stretch of chaotic overachieving.  I saw it as working vs. resting.  Now I am learning to ask the Lord for His expectations and rest in my work, my ministry, my hobbies, and my day.  When I follow God into the story and do what He wants me to do, I will be busy and I will work hard, but I won’t be striving.  There is much peace available when I know I have done what He has called me to do.  I am learning to work in rest.

Can  you name one self-imposed expectation you have that is causing you stress?