Learning to Listen

Learning to Listen - An Ear

Photo by AtnoYdur

I love when we, as believers, can exist in a moment when we know without a doubt, that God has orchestrated our lives and has prepared and ordained us for the present. When, sometimes all of the sudden, things make sense. The questions we’ve wrestled with, the confusion of our circumstances, the unexplainable paths we’ve walked, they were all purposeful and timely because of the sovereignty of the Most High.

I’ve had these moments in a variety of times and places. Once in a job interview, leading to some unexpected tears of joy. Awkward. Sometimes in sweet moments alone with the Lord, moments when He has revealed more of Himself, something that I wouldn’t know or experience in full, had He not brought me through the confusion, the anger and bitterness, the hurt or the plain ol’ hard thing.

Having lived these moments, I can say with confidence that they inspire my faith each day. The remembrance of His faithfulness arouses and infects my own. These times also tune me in to the voice of God in the present.

Recently I made a decision that just flat out didn’t make sense. I passed up an opportunity that the world might look on as perfect. Their eyes would see no decision to be made, just a straight path to be walked. But as I pressed into the Lord (for the sake of clarity, I spent time reading the Word and communicating with God in prayer) it was clear to me to stay put and say no. The answer from the Lord was so clear, that I was prompted to act in swift obedience, a demonstration of faith and trust that the Lord had spoken and revealed His desire for me.

Just to clarify, this wasn’t a decision between two options, one of which was clearly against what God has said in His Word. We must be careful not to idly wait on the voice of the Lord when He has clearly spoken through His Word. I believe His Word is effective and efficient and because He is the treasure found within it, it is worthy of our seeking. I asked a good friend how he hears from the Lord. His response was simply this, “He’s already spoken completely in His Word. Might be good to start and stay and finish there.” I love that and couldn’t agree more. Not only can clear answers regarding our actions be found in Scripture, but more importantly, the God of those answers is clearly found. We find His character and His consistency and we can bank on who He is no matter the circumstance we find ourselves in. And we get truth that leads us to Him. The closer our proximity to Him, the clearer His voice in the midst of the noise that too often surrounds us. And so His Word is where we stay, seeking out His truth and His nearness and making sure all else is held up to it’s standard.

As I listen for God, this passage brings great comfort and is at the crux of how we, as mere humans, hear from the Creator God. 1 Corinthians 2: 10-16 says, “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.  None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined; what God has prepared for those who love him” – these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?  So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered where God was leading and petitioned him to simply speak into my circumstances, make sense of it all, and tell me what to do. A direct answer would bring simplicity to countless questions, decisions and uncertainties. I can honestly say, he has answered every time and deepened my faith in the process. He has heard each cry for help. The trick, for me, has been tuning in to hear his answer. How do I put myself in a position to hear from God? Where do I look? This is what I have learned to ask, rather than will he answer or does he hear me. Scripture is clear that he will and he does (Psalm 34:17-18).

Paul says that because his Spirit is in us, we have the capacity to comprehend the thoughts of God. I could chew on that truth for days. The possibilities wrapped up in it make my heart glad. Those are words of hope and rest. His Spirit is at work in us, that we might understand what God has given to us, in Jesus, and the depths of the riches of that truth. This is where we fix our eyes, on Jesus. We can walk with great confidence knowing that just as God has planned and orchestrated the story of redemption, He is busy bringing this redemption plan to fullness and completion, and we are a part of it. We are the redeemed.

The Spirit illuminates and helps us to understand and comprehend His Word, His very breath for us to hear (2 Timothy 3:16). And the Spirit allows us to interpret the voice of the Creator through His creation, including the words and wisdom of others. Unfortunately, quenching the Spirit of God is the effect of our sin, our fallenness, and our bent toward the things of this world, rather than the riches of Christ. These things cloud our vision.

But when we are allowing the Spirit to live fully in us, evident by the presence of its fruit (Galatians 5), I believe we can hear God clearly and trust His Spirit within us. Too often I am quick to doubt, to wait on a specific feeling or audible voice. I often remind myself that when I am faithfully walking with Him, when His Spirit is fully alive and unquenched by sin, and I can trust the thoughts and desires that that walk produces. And so I pray for him to purify my heart and mind, to align them with His. I intentionally envelop myself in His Word and act with His glory as my motivation. I am careful to exist in posture of humility, ready to hear from God, through the indwelling of His Spirit, the illumination of His Word and the consistency of His character. And then I bank on who He is, not on my hearing but on His faithfulness, reminded of the moments when He proves it, I feast on the glimpses He has graciously given.

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I am just a girl living each day with a deep affection for Christ and the journey I am on with Him. I am daily discovering that the nearness of God is my good. The earth has nothing I desire besides Him, He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

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