The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
–1 Kings 19:11-12
One week ago, God pierced my heart with a gentle command that made me cry out with a loud, “No!”
I realize that sounds like an oxymoron… piercing with a gentle command… but that’s how it was. God nudged me quietly, but it struck me to the core. I thought to myself,”If I do what God is asking me to do, I won’t be able to go to grad school. I don’t want to give up grad school. I’ve worked too hard for this!” So I prayed, “God, if this is something You really want me to do, please don’t let me talk myself out of it, and don’t let others talk me out of it either.” You see, I’m really good at bouncing things off of other people. I think I am hoping they will either talk me out of something or tell me what to do. I never seem to trust my gut instinct; but I’m learning that when I don’t, I wind up making poor choices.
Sure enough, within a few days, I had a number of people tell me not to follow through on what I thought I was supposed to do. Pretty soon, I had just about talked myself out of it, too. A few people suggested that perhaps I could partially follow through; but when I contemplated that, God always laid the passage about Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) before me. It didn’t take me long to know that partially following through wasn’t an option.
In the meantime, God continued to nudge me. I opened up my Matthew Henry’s Commentary and studied the passage I had been reading when God commanded me the first time. The more I read, the more He continued to nudge me that what He had originally commanded me to do was still what He wanted me to do. Yesterday at church, the passage I was struggling with was one of the readings of the day. I’ve walked with God long enough to know that when Bible passages show up more than once within a short period of time, it is something I am supposed to notice. So today I followed through. I know that if I did what God truly was asking me to do, He will bless it in some way.
On one hand, I am happy that I did follow through; because I know I am right with God. On the other hand, I can’t say it makes my heart more tender towards other people who are involved and who will benefit from what I did. I didn’t do it for them; I did it because I wanted more than anything to obey God.
Can you relate at all? Do you have a nagging sensation in your heart that just won’t go away. Do you “know that you know” that God wants you to do a particular thing, but you keep dragging your feet? What’s holding you back? What would it take to step out in faith and do whatever it is God is telling you to do? Are you like me? Do you go back and forth wondering if you’re hearing correctly? Do you bounce it off of so many other people first that you get talked out of following through with whatever it is you’re supposed to do?
If you do, there are a few things that will help you learn to hear God’s voice and pay attention to it:
- Get alone with God where it is quiet. You won’t hear him in a room full of noise.
- Pray–Ask God for guidance. Be specific. Say, “God, I believe You are telling me this. If that’s true, please show me how to follow through on it.”
- Be patient–God oftentimes won’t show you the whole path up front. He will light your way one step at a time. If you want to know the next step, you’ve got to follow through on the step you’re on currently.
- Pay attention to what your heart or your gut is telling you. We can’t always rely on our feelings (as they oftentimes lead us astray), but God will speak through His Spirit within us if we just take the time to listen.