September 6, 2010: 9:07 PM
David: do you have some time?
Do you want to chat, or shall I call you?
David: chat is best
my cell phone isn’t that great as a phone, ironically
me: Okay. What’s up?
David: so I started reading the book you wrote, God Will Not Fail You
I’d been reading Experiencing God and some of the Bible, but I decided to start in on that one today.
and it was cool for a while. When I got to the part about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I took a break since I’d read it before and came back later. I made a point of praying for God to speak to me and teach me through my reading and started in again.
And I just had this growing feeling as I read more and more that this is so very much not my experience.
When I pray, if I ever feel I’ve heard anything from God, it never has anything to do with what I was praying about. Which was cool for a moment, because on Saturday God answered a question that I didn’t think of asking but I have so many questions about faith, and about the Holy Spirit, and about my life and all I ever feel is silence. And I’ve rarely felt more lonely than when I pray for the Holy Spirit to reside in me and perhaps the compressed time in the book is messing with my head a little, but Samuel hears so much from God asked and unasked and directly relevant to his life and his future and I’m very confused and a little stressed about all this.
ok, I’m done
Well. I often ask God to speak to me about things and go days and days just sort of tuned in and then somehow I know what to do.
But it isn’t always that way.
For example, I have a book manuscript about my spiritual journey that I have been praying about for year and it feels like a big weight because I think it is supposed to be published but it just never happens. And I am not sure if it is because it is so hard for me to send it out or because when I do send it out it is rejected.
Yet in other areas I hear from God right away.
Hearing God’s voice is like any voice, you learn to recognize it.
If I called you and you answered you might not recognize my voice at first, but you would know Sarah’s probably because you know her better.
So sometime I am not sure it is God and then I realize it must have been him, so each time that happens I get better at recognizing him.
I hear a lot of longing in your writing.
David: you should
me: Longing to know that the Holy Spirit is inside you.
Can you tell Him that?
Holy Spirit, I want to know that You are there, can You reassure me? Is there more I need to do to get more?
In Samuel’s account there were many days where he wrestled with God.
Things he had to give up.
People he needed to forgive.
I think the account, which I wrote up in a few pages, actually took place over a season in his life.
I remember him needing to settle things with God before the Holy Spirit took up residence.
I also remember the Holy Sprit taking up residence being a major, unmistakeable event that happened quickly; a changing event; with a clear before and after.
me: Hmm. Yes, you are right but I am not sure it is that way for everyone.
Are you different that you were a month ago?
David: that would be another thing messing with my TJ brain.
Certainly that’s occurred to me, that I’ve already had the Holy Spirit take up residence in me.
I can’t tell.
me: Can you quiet yourself and ask him?
Close your eyes, relax your body and ask him if he is there.
One way you know is if you are different. Have your desires changed? Are you hungry to know more of him?
David: ok, that will take two separate answers
First thing. When I quiet myself, I’m really good at hearing the ambient noises inside my head, in the room, and seeing the colors on the back of my eyelids
I feel more aware of myself, not less
so that needs work
and second thing
I was in church yesterday morning and the pastor asked the congregation what we couldn’t live without. What, if we had it taken away, would bring our lives crashing down and my first thought was “the friends God’s given me to support me,” but then I realized that that wasn’t true that if I didn’t have what God has provided, I would instead have what he would provide in its place and so what I really couldn’t live without was the love of God
me: That is true.
David: the point the preacher was trying to make was that we should let go of things that we’re more attached to than God because those things become our “gods” but I was sitting there thinking “then God is my god”and I’m free.
me: That also is true. But even God said, it is not good for man to be alone.
The Bible says, God takes the lonely and places them in families.
We are meant to be attached to God and to people who love us.
But, yes, God has to be first because If I do not have Him then I am ruined indeed. But if I lose, for example, my husband or Sarah, it would be devastating.
At the same time, if I cannot ultimately surrender them to Him then the relationships will be toxic.
David: I completely agree and I think you missed my point
Help me understand.
We were talking about how I might be different than I was as a sign of the Holy Spirit at work in me and what I meant to communicate was that the things I value now are things that I recognize as blessings from God and I didn’t get to saying, but should have is that I have been trying hard to find something that I’m so attached to that it might be a “god” to me–and I can’t.
I’m convinced there isn’t.
I felt in church that I was very much changed. I didn’t connect it with the Holy Spirit
me: Ahh. I got it now. Yes, I can see that you are very much changed.
David: perhaps I am thoroughly confused about that one
But that feeling faded as I left church, and it’s only come back to mind now, not while I was trying to ask God about the Holy Spirit.
me: It sounds like you are trying so hard to figure it out.
David: I’m a TJ student…
me: Yes, but remember it is a relationship with God. Right brain, and left. Words and feelings.
So just like you can’t figure out relationships with people, you can’t always figure it out with God.
And you can’t control him either.
David: I’ve caught on that my engineering brain is not always helping 😛
Sometimes I find myself looking for an instruction manual which brings me to my next question
David: well, we kinda talked about that God’s voice
me: Ah yes.
David: it must’ve been Saturday night
I was praying to God about the things that were on my mind
and this thought interrupted me and answered a question I hadn’t thought of asking which was way in the back of my mind
I attribute that to God
me: Sounds like God to me.
David: in the case of that and another matter, He pulled something out of the back of my mind and made a connection I wouldn’t have or added an extra bit of information to make a clearer picture
me: Sounds very much like God.
I know it wasn’t me in both cases. But then I’m waiting for God to respond to something I’m actually praying about
I feel like saying:
“I sincerely thank you, because that was important and means a lot to me, but we were discussing ___”
although “we” and “discussing” are not the right words at all
Is the Almighty allowed to interupt? 🙂
It does show He’s there. It doesn’t show that He’s listening to what’s weighing on my heart
and sometimes I don’t even get an interruption
. . . I feel kinda petty now
me: That’s okay, David. He is an amazing God. You are going to enjoy this journey, this relationship.
He is just like us in some ways, wants us to want to be with him, but he is completely unlike us in other ways.
I think I need to go. Sam has gone to bed and if I don’t get in bed soon he will be asleep, but I found something for you to read which I will email to you.
me: If you have more thoughts just type away and I will respond in the morning.
David: I might
thanks so much for your support
What I sent David:
Twelve Points to Remember
Hearing the Voice of God
From Is that Really You, God?
By Loren Cunningham with Janice Rogers
If you know the Lord, you have already heard His voice—it is that inner leading that brought you to Him in the first place. Jesus always checked with His Father (John 8:26-29) and so should we; hearing the voice of the heavenly Father is a basic right of every child of God. In this book we have tried to describe a few of many ways of fine-tuning this experience. The discoveries are never just theory, they come out of our own adventures:
1. Don’t make guidance complicated. It’s actually hard not to hear God if you really want to please and obey Him! If you stay humble, He promises to guide you (Proverbs 16:9).
Here are three simple steps that have helped us to hear God’s voice:
- Submit to his Lordship. Ask Him to help you silence your own thoughts, desires, and the opinions of others, which may be filling your mind (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Resist the enemy, in case he is trying to deceive you at this moment. Use the authority which Jesus Christ has given you to silence the voice of the enemy (James 4:7; Ephesians 6:10-20).
- Expect an answer. After asking the question that is on your mind, wait for Him to answer. Expect your loving heavenly Father to speak to you. He will (John 10:27; Psalm 69:13; Exodus 33:11).
2. Allow God to speak to you in the way he chooses. Don’t try to dictate to Him concerning the guidance methods you prefer. He is Lord—you are His servant (1 Samuel 3:9). So listen with a yielded heart; there is a direct link between yieldedness and hearing. He may choose to speak to you;
- Through His Word: this could come in your daily reading, or
- Through an audible voice (Exodus 3:4).
- Through dreams (Matthew 2) and visions (Isaiah 6:1, Revelation 1:12-17).
- But probably the most common of all means is through the quiet, inner voice (Isaiah 30:21).
3. Confess any unforgiven sin. A clean heart is necessary if you want to hear God (Psalm 66:18).
4: Use the Axehead Principle—a term coined from the story in 11 Kings 6. If you seem to have lost your way, go back to the last time you knew the sharp, cutting edge of God’s voice. Then obey. The key question is, Have you obeyed the last thing God told you to do?
5. Get your own leading. God will use others to confirm your guidance but you should also hear from Him directly. It can be dangerous to rely on others to get the word of the Lord for you (I Kings 13).
6. Don’t talk about your guidance until God gives you permission to do so. Sometimes this happens immediately; at other times there is a delay. The main purpose of waiting is to avoid four pitfalls of guidance: (A) pride, because God has spoken something to you; (B) presumption, by speaking before you have full understanding; (C) missing God’s timing and methods; (D) bringing confusion to others; they too need prepared hearts (Luke 9:36; Ecclesiastes 3:7; Mark 5:19).
7. Use the Wise Men Principle. Just as the Three Wise Men individually followed the star and in doing so were all led to the same Christ, so God will often use two or more spiritually sensitive people to confirm what He is telling you. (2 Corinthians 13:1).
8. Beware of counterfeits. Have you ever heard of a counterfeit dollar bill? Yes, of course. But have you ever heard of a counterfeit paper bag? No. The reason is, only things of value are worth counterfeiting.
Satan has a counterfeit for everything of God that is possible for him to copy (Acts 8:9-11; Exodus 7:22). Counterfeit guidance comes, for example, through ouija boards, seances, fortunetelling and astrology (Leviticus 20:6; 19:26; II Kings 21:6). The guidance of the Holy Spirit leads you closer to Jesus and into true freedom. Satan’s guidance leads you away from God into bondage.
One key test for true guidance: does your leading follow principles of the Bible? The Holy Spirit never contradicts the Word of God.
9. Opposition of man is sometimes guidance from God (Acts 21:10-14). In our own story, re recognized much later that what seemed like blockage from our denomination was in fact God leading us into a broader scope of ministry. The important thing here, again, is yieldedness to the Lord (Daniel 6:6-23; Acts 4:18-21). Rebellion is never of God, but sometimes He asks you to step away from your elders in a way that is not rebellious but part of His plan. Trust that He will show your heart the difference.
10. Every follower of Jesus has a unique ministry (I Corinthians 12; I Peter 4:10; Romans 12; Ephesians 4). The more you seek to hear God’s voice in detail, the more effective you will be in your own calling. Guidance is not a game—it is serious business where we learn what God wants us to do in ministry and how He wants us to do it. The will of God is doing and saying the right thing in the right place, with the right people, at the right time and in the right sequence, under the right leadership using the right method with the right attitude of heart.
11. Practice hearing God’s voice and it becomes easier. It’s like picking up the phone and recognizing the voice of your best friend . . . you know his voice because you have heard it so much. Compare young Samuel with the older man Samuel (I Samuel 3:4-7; 8:7-10; 12:11-18).
12. Relationship is the most important reason for hearing the voice of the Lord. God is not only infinite but personal. If you don’t have communication, you don’t have a personal relationship with Him. True guidance, as Darlene pointed out, is getting closer to the Guide. We grow to know the Lord better as He speaks to us and, as we listen to Him and obey, we make His heart glad (Exodus 33:11, Matthew 7:24-27).