Yesterday I got a call from a young friend trying to make a big decision.
And he said “God told me…” a bunch of times throughout the conversation.
I squirmed and felt just a tiny bit uncomfortable as I listened.
I’m not crazy about that phrase. Not because I don’t think God “speaks”, but because 99% the time when I hear those particular words, what “God tells” the person seems to be rationalizing something they really, really already want to do.
I’ve actually heard stories of people saying “God told me to get a divorce” or “to sleep with this person…”
It’s like strapping on a bullet-proof holiness vest. What do you say to “God told me…”??
“Uh, no, He didn’t”?? Or “How do you know? Did He sound like Earl Jones and use a lot of ‘thou’s'”?
Why is it I’ve never heard someone say “God told me…” something like God told Ananias in Acts 9?
“Go to your arch enemy, a mass murderer and heal him and befriend him because I want to use him powerfully and make him famous while you’ll only be mentioned a couple times as an afterthought.”
In that case, Ananias could say, “GOD TOLD ME!!” Because He did. Clearly and with detail. But if I was Ananias I might have wanted to keep that “God told me…” to myself and suddenly remember something important I had to do like go to the grocery store.
I’d much rather believe that “God told me…” to go to someplace sunny and warm with little umbrella drinks.
As cynical as I am about that particular phrase, hearing from God and responding to His promptings has been the biggest growing edge of my faith over the past fifteen years. I am awe-struck at the powerful ways I believe God has “spoken” to me. I love it that God, the creator of all the stars and the platypus, stoops to talk to me and you, like a parent getting down on a level with their two-year-old.
It’s just rare that it’s in an audible voice that confirms the self-serving plans I’ve already made.
More often I have to lean in close like Elijah in 1st Kings 19 to hear the whisper, which first was a question, “What are you doing here?”
And then…maybe a reminder from His Word…”If any of you lacks wisdom, they should ask God…” or “I will never leave or forsake you…”
And then, sometimes, like someone sneaking up and tapping me lightly on the shoulder, a tiny thought will creep into my mind…an idea to do something that usually I realize I wouldn’t have naturally thought to do but is consistent with love…Something that’s a tad inconvenient, or not on my agenda. A phone call or note of encouragement to write, a person I need to apologize to.
There are times when God’s voice is really clear and we feel like Mark Twain, “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”
We have examples in Scripture like those detailed instruction like to Ananias.
But there are also one word commands like “Go” to Abraham or “Come” to Peter.
And then there are the church leaders in Acts 15:28 saying “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”
I like that. It’s a posture of humility and leaning in that I want to cultivate in my own life.
What has your experience been hearing from God?