One week from today I leave for Nairobi, Kenya. This will be my sixth mission trip to this beautiful country, a country whose people I’ve come to love. I’m excited about the trip, but this wasn’t the case in the beginning. When first approached, I didn’t want to go. The two-and-a-half week length of the trip felt too long – too long to be away from home, too long to be away from the person I share this home with.
As I wrestled through the decision, I sensed that my resistance went deeper. I asked God to reveal the root of my struggle. He did. When it got down to the ugly truth, I was resisting because I wanted to know: What’s in it for me? It’s embarrassing to write that. But it’s true.
As I admitted my struggle, I heard God ask a simple question: Can you do this for Me? Could I do this for God? For a thousand reasons – yes! The question was so clear and so poignant. It humbled me. It refocused me. The question was the answer I needed to hear.
I share this experience with you because it presents a question many Christ-followers struggle with: Does Almighty God really speak specific words to our hearts? I can say wholeheartedly: I believe He does. On that day last March, I believe He did. God has been speaking with His people since the beginning. Isaiah 30:21 says,
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying: This is My way, walk in it.”
God speaks to further a relationship with us. Sometimes our relationship with Him grows as we respond to His leading. Psalm 23:3 says He leads us on paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. That path may give us a deeper revelation of who He is, or it might be a specific directive for something we are either to do or to avoid. But the path, and God’s speaking, is intended to lead us into greater righteousness: greater conformity to God in our thoughts and in our deeds. In the example I shared, God was continuing to crucify the lie that life is “all about me.”
God leads us so He can glorify Himself in us. To live a God glorifying life, we must follow Him. We can’t follow Him if we don’t know His voice. Jesus said,
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
Hearing God speak begins with believing that He will. Hearing God speak is precious to me because I once believed He’d never speak specifically to me.
Hearing God speak also begins with learning the myriad of ways in which He does it. As I sought God, I also asked two friends to pray. God confirmed through them what I sensed He was saying to me. I also found myself drawn to Scriptures about being a servant. Through His people and His Word, God kept speaking.
Hearing God speak requires us to practice the art of listening. Many of us are better at talking than listening, or we half-listen, letting our minds wander or be distracted by other things. The truth is, we’re inundated with distractions – especially the one that is pretty much attached to our hand (or ear). To hear God speak we must create quiet space in which we can listen.
The question is not: Does God speak to us specifically? The question is: Are we listening? Let’s practice Way #21 of 52 Ways to Glorify God:
Let God speak.
Listen and be blessed!
Listen and obey, and you’ll live a life that glorifies God!