All of us have experienced making a difficult decision and trying hard to hear God’s leading. A common question is “how do I know when it’s God’s voice and not just my own thoughts in my head?” This is a valid question because there are often many voices trying to give us advice. We have our own desires (sometimes godly, sometimes not), we have friends and family telling us their thoughts, Satan is also trying to get our attention, and God is guiding. If only God’s voice would always be the loudest than it would be easier.
However, in one story in the Old Testament, we see that God’s voice is more like a soft whisper. Elijah, a prophet of God, was in despair. Earlier, he did an amazing thing with God, but when his life was threatened, he ran away in fear. He felt alone and was emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained. The story goes that God wanted to talk to him. So as Elijah went to hear from God, some mighty things happened. There was a mighty wind, an earthquake, and some fire. Yet, “the LORD was not in it.”
After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Ki. 19:12-13)
Sometimes, God does need to send a mighty wind, an earthquake, and some fire to get our attention, but then He speaks to us gently and softly. It’s because God is a compassionate and loving God. He doesn’t speak to us in what could be interrupted as a harsh tone with angry words. And so some people may miss what God is saying because they aren’t giving validation to the soft and quiet voice they hear in their spirit. This requires us to push back the clutter and give us mental, emotional, and physical space to listen.
If you have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you’ll know when God speaks. It sounds so simplistic, but Jesus says that His own sheep hear His voice and recognize His voice. In this context, Jesus is warning against those who think they can achieve salvation apart from Jesus. Those who have accepted Jesus as their savior know this truth and can recognize when someone speaks an error against this truth.
The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. 5 They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.” (John. 10:3-5)
God has sent His Holy Spirit to live within a believer to not only convict them of their sinning, but to teach and guide them in truth (John 16:13). Getting guidance from God is something to which a believer has privilege. Those who don’t have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ cannot recognize His voice. They try to gain God’s guidance in life without going through the gate of Christ, but they won’t get it because they are trying to steal something that doesn’t belong to them. Remember, the whole matter of God’s Will centers around a relationship rather than a program or a technique.
PAUSE AND PRAY
Take a few moments and think about the time you heard the good news of salvation through Christ and accepted it. Think about those times when you “just knew” what God wanted you to do in your life. Take comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit lives in you to guide you. If you’re not sure if you have a personal relationship with God, talk to one of the pastors at church.
This is part of a 4 week devotional plan for the series “Figuring Out God’s Will.” For complete details, see here.