As Christians, when we talk about hearing God’s voice, we’re usually talking about a thought or feeling that seems to unexpectedly drop into our souls.
I’ve heard it called a still small voice, an inner whisper, a sense of peace, a gentle leading, etc.
When we put a lot of stock into these unique experiences, we open ourselves up to potentially heart breaking circumstances. Often these circumstances could have easily been averted if we had been a little less confident when we thought we heard God.
Many people, myself included, have walked down a path they felt sure was the voice of the Lord, only to realize later it was a mistake.
It might sound like I am trying to discourage you from trusting in God’s ability to speak to you. I’m not. But I am trying to discourage you from trusting in your own ability to hear him clearly.
I’m also trying to discourage you from buying into the idea that God’s primary way of speaking to us is privately and personally, because I think Scripture tells us differently (but we’ll talk about that in part two).
There are at least 3 reasons why relying on these unique ways of hearing God’s voice can be damaging to your life.
1. Because no one can correct you.
When you confidently pull the “I heard from God” card, no one can give you any feedback because they aren’t arguing with you. They’re arguing with God.
You arent doing yoursef any favors by talking this way.
You need the input of others to make sure you don’t have any blind spots.
2. Because, if we’re honest, what we hear from God is usually what we wanted to hear.
All of us face difficult decisions at some point. And we know that we need wisdom and direction in those moments.
“Should I move?”
“Should I accept this position?”
“Should I pursue this opportunity?”
“Should I marry this person?”
But most of the time, after praying and seeking wisdom, the decision we make in the end is the thing we really wanted to do to begin with.
There is nothing wrong with doing what you want to do. In fact, I believe God often leads us through our preferences. He is the one that placed that desire inside of you in the first place. I just think it would be helpful to those around us, and even to ourselves, if we could be a bit more honest about it.
Just say something like, “After praying about it, I realize this is what I really want to do.”
This also helps other Christians to not feel spiritually inferior because they are not as confident as you are about hearing from God.
3. Because you might be wrong.
Can we all just take a deep breath and humbly admit that we could be wrong?
Perhaps — just perhaps — you really didn’t hear from God. Perhaps the thought that seemed to descend directly from heaven into your mind was just an idea triggered by a lack of sleep or a creative imagination. Perhaps that deep sense of inner peace you felt was just an emotion that your brain cognitively and subconsciously conjured up, which is not rooted in reality or truth. Perhaps even the dream you had that seemed so clear and even prophetic was the result of a long and tiring day, three whiny kids, and one too many tacos for dinner.
It isn’t wrong to be wrong.
It doesn’t make you a bad Christian, or even a Christian who can’t hear from God.
It simply makes you a human who sometimes gets it right and sometimes doesn’t. And that’s ok. Let’s just commit to be honest about it.
So, does God speak to us?
Let me be clear.
I’m not saying God doesn’t speak to us through thoughts and feelings. I have experienced this myself many times.
But I think we have to be careful that this form of communication between us and God is placed at the bottom of our chain of command, because there is no way to be fully confident that we heard from God perfectly. It’s at east a possibility that we could be wrong.
There are at least three other ways God speaks to us which should take precedence over our personal encounters with Him, and we’ll talk about those in part two.
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