How do you hear from God? This is a complicated question for which we all have complicated, personal answers. For the longest time, however, that question for me didn’t begin with a “How” but rather omitted the “How” altogether: Do you hear from God?
And my answer, until recently, was no. I didn’t. The questions I had were more along the lines of “Why isn’t God speaking to me?” and “Does He even have anything to say?”
I believe it’s a part of the human experience to go through times where we are out of tune with God. I also believe He brings us up and out of those times so that we may grow as people and know Him better.
Our lives are so, so busy. Even when we aren’t actually busy with important things, we’re busy with unimportant things. We fill our “down” time with news feeds, social feeds, streaming, traffic, gaming, drinking, dating, and any number of other things that aren’t working, eating, or taking care of our families.
All of these tasks, feeds, and sources of worry create inner commentaries and dialogues that we listen to and allow to inform our decision making and general disposition. You’re familiar with them. They show you how society says you should look, act, or feel and then pressure you to conform. They point out when you’re successful and when you’ve failed and then lead you to dwell on those successes or failures. They tell you when “you showed them!” and when you just weren’t good enough, weren’t pretty enough, weren’t qualified enough, weren’t _____ enough. They provide you with an endless run of if-then statements that give you what you, for some reason, believe are infallibly prophetic pictures of your future, whether glorious or calamitous. They make you question. every. single. thing.
Deep breath: Inhale. Exhale.
For me, it’s overwhelming. It’s even at times debilitating. I’ve come to call this collection of influences “inner noise.” I often find myself trying to sort through all the inner noise to figure out which pieces are informed by society or my own sinful nature and which ones are informed by the grace of Christ. This is, of course, no simple task, and I have immense trouble with it.
However, the Holy Spirit always has a way of breaking through the inner noise.
A few months ago life smacked me across the head, as I’m sure you know life is prone to do. As a result, the Holy Spirit made me keenly aware that through my analytical, logical, overthinking, need-to-be-right personality, I had developed a desire and a need to be in control of my own life. According to the inner noise, if I could just figure out the answer to the question of the day or the reason why a certain thing happened, then I would not only feel better about life but would have more confidence, because I was the one to find the answer.
Clearly, this left little room for the Holy Spirit to work in my life. I realized I was trying to exert too much control over my life, and I knew not only that I needed to give some of it up but that it was imperative to allow God to take it over. I finally admitted that I needed help sifting through the inner noise.
So I changed up my routine to include reading the Bible and praying every day. I stopped making excuses and made it a priority.
And as you would expect, God met me there. I was finally giving him space among the inner noise to speak. Maybe more importantly, I was allowing myself the space to listen.
I’ve realized that yes, OF COURSE God has something to say to me.
Just in the past five months, I’ve heard the Lord speak to me more than I have in the last five years. It’s honestly a bit overwhelming. Now my challenge has become to not over-interpret what He says but rather to focus on the simple fact that I’m hearing from him.
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that Exodus 14:14 has shown up in at least two Redemption Church sermons and one of my daily Bible readings in that same five month span.
“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14
God has something to say to you. Christ has grace to give you. The Holy Spirit has wisdom to show you.
Make room for it.