I feel like learning about guidance is a precious gift from extremely horrible trials.
In my case, the horrible trial was my husband leaving me. I did turn to God in extreme desperation. And God answered.
It brought me to a completely new place in my relationship with God. A much much closer friendship. And a place where it got to be normal to hear from God. I have to emphasize that before, my relationship with God was nothing like that. In fact, the first few times I heard from God, I was apologetic and pretty much chalked it up to wishful thinking.
Also, this was a situation where I needed guidance. There were many, many complications, and I needed to know what to do. Should I file for divorce? Should I try to win him back? How would I survive financially?
But one of the precious things about the whole experience was that, so often, the things I heard from God were simply encouragement. Now, that’s what I needed — I felt completely torn down and worthless at the worst parts of the ordeal — but God saw that and gave it, and I felt so loved.
I enjoyed today’s sermon. I have to admit, I could be wrong, but it didn’t sound like Pastor Alex has ever been in a situation where he’s so desperate, he wants to die. (And it’s interesting. Though feeling close to God, able to hear from God, is a great big huge blessing of an ordeal like that, you’d never ever wish it on anyone. You’d never willingly choose it. But, after a time, you actually can see that God brought great good out of it. But you can’t really be proud — Yes, I was so utterly desperate and despairing, I had no choice but to turn to God for guidance.) But he did lay out good steps and principles for hearing from God. I just wanted to add a couple things.
1) God speaks to each person in their own language.
I learned this from a beautiful sermon back in Germany. The pastor preached on the passage in Mark 7 where Jesus heals a deaf and mute man. Jesus does strange things, putting his fingers in the man’s ears and then spitting and touching the man’s tongue. The pastor pointed out that Jesus was using sign language! Of course! And it dawned on me that He had been speaking to me in my own language, too — bringing me over and over again just the exact book I needed at several steps along the way as I was figuring out which end was up. (If you want to get through to Sondy, of course you use books!)
Along with that point, I have to add that God speaks in more ways than were listed. Through books. Through e-mails. Through websites. Through songs. Through rainbows. I do believe it’s all very individual, tailored to what we need and what we can hear.
2. Hide God’s Word in your heart.
Pastor Alex did talk about God speaking through his Word. He did talk about Inner Promptings. For me, most often those two occur together. I don’t have to ask academic questions about Scripture though. I read and read and read and memorize and go over and over passages, and sometimes, I simply know that this verse is God’s word to my specific situation.
I’m just saying that this isn’t an academic exercise. Memorize Scripture. Read Scripture. Look at one verse a day. Don’t rush through. Read and listen for God’s voice. Grow to love it. Hide God’s Word in your heart.
3. Ask for Confirmation.
When I get an inner prompting that God is speaking a specific verse to me, God isn’t mad if I ask Him to repeat it if I’m hearing Him correctly. One remarkable time, I outlined three points that I thought God was telling me from three verses. But I said that I wasn’t sure, and I could really use some confirmation if that was what He was really saying. The next morning, the pastor opened his sermon with the verse from the first point. The other verses were included.
In James, it says that God gives wisdom “to all men generously without finding fault.” He will not get mad at us if we want to be sure we’re hearing correctly — as long as we’re going to obey.
I almost forgot. If you want to hear from God; if you’re wondering what you should do, ask Him. That’s covered in the James verse, too. Be specific; write it out. Then watch and listen for answers.
But I do think that the more desperate you are, the more you acknowledge that you don’t know what to do, the more likely you are to hear.
Oh, and one more thing: If you hear from God through Scripture, write the date next to the verse in your Bible. That will remind you God gave you that specific verse. And you can look back later and see how He fulfilled it in your life.