This question has lingered in my thoughts for years now. Am I hearing from God?
Let’s back up. As I’ve gotten more settled into this new home and area, I’ve been craving community. Getting a job has definitely helped with being exposed to potential friendships and is providing many opportunities to get to know people. I work in the Welcome Center at a community non-profit and am able to help people each day with their needs while being in an environment that promotes community and growth. It has definitely energized me and gotten me out of the house!
I’ve been asking the Lord for guidance and direction with how to spend my time and who to spend it with. You know when something happens and the odds of that specific thing happening are so low, so you accredit it to being a “God thing?” I met a couple people recently through work and this seemed like one of those “God things.” We all went out for coffee and the conversation lasted well into the evening. I was drawn to their knowledge of the Word and wanted to soak up every single second God was blessing me with! My mind began drifting off as I thought about how this would lead to a new family of believers and friendships and wonderful things! It seemed so obvious that THIS was the answer to prayer that God was supplying. To spare you from reading the paragraphs detailing every conversation and thought, just understand that meeting these new friends was a huge blessing at the time.
I was invited to their church service and was so excited to embrace this new community of believers and people who love God. That was when things seemed to change. The second and third time I went to the service, I felt I needed to leave. There were even parts of the teaching that really “tinged” my holy spirit. The music was nice, but something started feeling really off. No one said anything mean or gave me weird looks, but I couldn’t shake this feeling of being unwelcome there. I had thoughts and images pop in my mind about rejection and I left the building in tears each time. It felt like peace was fleeting from my heart. Where was this intense emotion coming from? God?
Questions flooded my mind as I drove home. “God, why is this happening? What’s going on?” How come it seemed like things were falling apart? Was it God that “inspired” me to leave? Was it my holy spirit telling me something was up and that I needed to get out of there? Was it the devil trying to destroy a beautiful thing before it blossomed? Am I hearing from God or is it just my own thoughts fashioning into something reasonable?
To resolve the story, I was able to talk with a close (distant in terms of physical location) friend that really comforted and soothed my mind. What was once chaos and confusion was now thankfulness and calmness. Don’t get me wrong, I was beyond tired at this point as I felt mentally drained, but I wasn’t so worked up over why things turned out the way they did. Even though I felt rejected when I left the church service, I was reminded that God doesn’t reject me. This time of reflection really helped me to remember that God never rejects us, and whatever was happening at those services, God still loves me and will help me through these tough times. Whatever the tough time may be, even if we have no idea what’s going on.
To this day, those people seldom reach out to me. I’m not really sure why, but God knows. I used to think that when I asked God a question, the very first thing that came to mind was His response. Whether it was something small like “God, should I make a cup of coffee right now?” or something like “Hey Dad, what church should I go to?” Whatever popped to mind first, I would attribute that as being God’s response. Honestly, it always left me feeling more confused and lost. Helpful hint: God isn’t going to micromanage your life. He gives you room to grow and make your own choices!
I guess what I’m learning and beginning to understand is God knows how we’re going to respond to different situations and to His guidance. When we learn about His nature and how He has acted in the past according to the scriptures, it begins to paint a picture of what God is really like.
Is He the voice telling you to be anxious for your new semester coming up?
No. He’s the voice that says:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Is He the thought telling you to be fearful of the trials in this life?
No. He’s the thought that says:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
There are so many beautiful truths we can hold on to when the going gets tough, when we’re confused about a situation, and when we need some guidance.
I was reading Psalm 77 and came across an eye-opening prayer. I really related with what the psalmist was feeling.
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
Psalm 77:1-9 ESV
I was reminded recently that we don’t renew our minds to the situation at hand. We don’t just “deal” with attacks and trials. We don’t just brush them off and think it’ll be okay one day. We direct our minds to what God’s Word says. We put in our thoughts those things that God has shared with us. The psalmist was going through a tough time. He even began asking questions like “Has God forgotten to be gracious?” But look at how his words begin to change.
Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Psalm 77:10-20 ESV
The psalmist says “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” What conviction to make that decision to put off the distractions that are telling you to lose faith. Your Heavenly Father is with you and He hears you.