Hearing from the Lord
Do we hear from the Lord? I’m not talking about a misapplication of scripture or even a proper application of a verse to a situation, that we recall during a trying time.
Do we hear the Lord speak conversationally to us? Or, do we hear Him speak to our specific circumstance?
It might just be me, but it seemed to be few and far between occurrences when I would hear from the Lord. But I have heard Him. I’ve probably heard from Him more but I need to cultivate the ability to discern His still small voice.
Certainly, I’ve seen the Spirit direct others in worship. That’s Him speaking isn’t it? I’ve heard the Spirit directing the prayers of the saints. I’ve witnessed the Spirit convicting souls of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He does still speak!
Did you really hear Him?
I know I heard His voice at a very dark moment in my life. I was suicidal and had no intentions of backing down. I was alone, and had nothing to live for, no hope. The Lord stopped me with a word. I’m so grateful for that. He pursued me, knowing that I would sink so low.
I’ve heard Him at other times since then. For example, when I was recovering from the third surgery following a collision with a car, I heard from Him. I knew His Spirit’s presence. I was reading Romans 8, and yearning to know the presence of God. I both heard from the Lord and knew He was in me, with me, and beside me in my pain.
This was not, my imagination. The God of the Bible showed up and spoke to me. What joy! What rapture of soul in this age of sin!
Do we even expect to hear from Him?
Theology 101: God is smart, He knows stuff we don’t know, and He likes to tell us.Rob Reimer
Often in the church we either exclude or limit God’s voice to something that happens during a church service. Or we exclude ourselves from relationship such that we cannot hear from Abba.
As a dad, I love to talk to my kids. I love to hear from them and to share with them. If I exclude myself from hearing from God, it is a poor religion I’m practicing. It is a mockery of the relationship freely available to us IN Christ. If we’re abiding in Him, not only should we expect to hear from Him, we should be regularly, constantly, interacting with Him.
If I relegate Him to an exclusive place or time, like a church service, again, it is a poor religion I’m practicing. As if somehow, the God of the bible is limited in space and time. As if He cannot interact with His blood bought children in whom He dwells.
I was guilty of excluding and limiting myself for a long time. I would frequently recognize my sin and failure; thank you Holy Spirit for conviction. But I would respond, by making reconciliation a matter of my performance, and not living in the freedom of that forgiveness. As if I had to be separated from God, for a while. Sure, I was His kid, but I was not His favorite kid. I was punishing myself, ignoring the cross. Certainly, I knew 1 John 1:9, but I wouldn’t put it into practice.
What is God saying?
Recently, I was doing a study with other brothers in the Lord. We were following a guide to on resolving personal and spiritual conflicts with the aim of being fruitful for Christ. In this study, I gained a new freedom in Christ. I was in bondage; I was harboring pain and hurts. I was deceived by things I had held onto as what my relationship with Christ “should” look like. I was guilty of pride-pride in myself and (even worse) spiritual pride.
Having spent time in confession of sin and acknowledgment of hurts and pains, (I) we were praying, listening for the Lord. There was one particular sin from my youth that I had many times confessed and asked for forgiveness for. Intellectually, I knew I had that forgiveness. Practically though, I wasn’t living that way.
During this time a brother said, “Jesus is there with you, what is He saying to you?” I listened, and heard His voice, that same voice that I had heard at my lowest and in countless other times say, “I have forgiven you.” I was basking in the joy of that statement.
Then, I heard the Lord say something else, “I love your laugh.” I was incredulous. Wait, the God who knit me together, loves my laugh? This would prove enlightening as we continued because I had to acknowledge the conviction of the Spirit in another matter. I frequently used sarcasm as a weapon, to get a laugh, to stroke my own ego and pride.
Am I alone?
Surely not. The morning I started writing this I was reminded via email of a certain well-known brother who struggled with diphtheria as a boy. The boy’s uncle came to the home of the boy, where the mother had given up hope for the child. He said, “I’ve just come tell you that you don’t have to worry about the child. He is going to recover, and one day God is going to save his soul.”
She was distracted and incredulous: “Whatever makes you say that?” Then he explained he had been sitting at his fire reading Psalm 91 when God distinctly spoke to him through the last three verses. That boy was later saved and went on to years of service for the Lord including writing a commentary on the scriptures. One William McDonald.
Couldn’t that be abused?
Yes, I think many can think of a time when someone said they heard from the Lord with the aim to control someone else. The distinction is, “this is what the Lord told me about you,“ vs. “what is the Lord telling you?” There are several articles on spiritual abuse on this site if you want to delve into that.
As I continue to think about hearing from the Lord, from His Spirit, it occurs to me how critical it is for us to share testimony. Not just stories of salvation but how the Lord has been at work in each other’s lives. This was the repeating message of Pilgrim, and his companions, even Pilgrim’s wife on their progress to the Kingdom. The message of the testimonies was both an encouragement and examples of the Lord communicating to His children, “keep going, I am with you.”
The with-us-God, Immanuel, will not leave us nor forsake us. Listen for His voice.