Is This Really You God? Hearing from God and knowing its him…
I was a born and raised in a Jesus loving family in Surrey, BC where I have resided all my life until this recent move to the Kelowna region at the ripe old age of 31. Surrey was my home and I was very very happy to never leave. I grew up firmly planted at Calvary Christian Church where I was born, baptized, married, and dedicated all 4 of my children. Having a solid home church my whole life resulted in a community of believers to raise me, invest in me, mentor me, and pray for me through all my stages and phases growing up. Here I learned the importance of community and community living, that we weren’t meant to do life alone but together. (See Ryan’s most recent blog). This was my home and I swore I was here until I died or God called me elsewhere…. Guess what? God called me elsewhere. So, how did I know it was God? How do any of us know? You’d think that having the opportunity to be in a relationship with Christ for almost my entire life that I would be able to decipher the voice of God as easy as pie. Truth is though that I think most Christians struggle with this question, maybe we get too comfortable with where we are, but I think for a lot of us, especially in North America, we are so “busy” that we don’t stop and take the time to learn.
So here I am now doing something that I swear I would never do with the hashtag #Godtoldme. Left my family, all my friends, my home city, my dream job, my church. I left the only life I had ever known. I realize it’s not as dramatic as those that leave everything to do missions overseas, but I think the emotions involved and the process are very much the same. So why did we do it? For what? We’re not doing anything special here, it’s basic Christianity. To love people, to show all people Christ by the way that I best know how and that’s simply by sharing my story and my life. To welcome people into our crazy family, that is far from perfect, but a family who strives to keep Christ as the “driver” and head of all our decisions.How do you hear from God? Like THE God. Well, there’s no easy answer. Heck, I’m still learning. Growing up in a church community I got used to hearing the Christianese vernacular stating, “God told me too”, or “I heard his voice lead me to (fill in the blank)”. I remember being frustrated as a teenager because everyone around me seemed to be hearing the audible voice of God except me. Unfortunately, sometimes people like to play the holy spirit and these phrases become just a poor excuse or Christian cop off (my personal
How do you hear from God? Like THE God. Well, there’s no easy answer. Heck, I’m still learning. Growing up in a church community I got used to hearing the Christianese vernacular stating, “God told me too”, or “I heard his voice lead me to (fill in the blank)”. I remember being frustrated as a teenager because everyone around me seemed to be hearing the audible voice of God except me. Unfortunately, sometimes people like to play the holy spirit and these phrases become just a poor excuse or Christian cop off (my personal favourite is the classic teenage breakup because “God told me to…” Guilty, I may have used that one once or twice). Hearing from God, like REALLY hearing from him, should be an easy everyday thing but in actuality, it is something every believer struggles with. But can we REALLY hear Gods voice? Like isn’t that something that was just reserved for the prophets? How do we know when it is HIM calling?
How did I know? How DO I STILL know? How does one actually tangibly hear from the Lord?
Look, I’m not a scholar, I don’t claim to have any crazy original insight on anything. Actually to be honest everything I do know and most of the ideas and revelations I’ve experienced has come from reading books, podcasts, and being mentored by people much smarter than I. I think the answer to this question is actually an incredibly personal one. All I can share with you is MY experience. And to be honest, there are days that I second guess Gods call on my life. But really I think if we are honest with ourselves, we all do. In reality, I’d love to just take you out for coffee, share my heart, share my life, by way of this increasingly archaic way of face to face communication.
I’ve looked for the burning bush, prayed for it, expected it. I tried the whole leaving the sheepskin out to see if it was wet or dry in the morning (okay it was a doormat), I even listened for “that still small voice” as I was searching for an audible voice from above, but no dice, that was Moses experience, and Gideon’s story, and Elijah’s gift. But how God chose to speak to me was personal, designed uniquely for me, in a way that I would just know.
This is how it happened for me…
Until now most of what I can identify as hearing from God in my life has been in realization hindsight. I would make decisions as a teen/ young adult that was based mostly on a “gut feeling” and only afterward was I able to recognize it as God’s spirit leading me. Hindsight is 20/20 was the slogan for our young adults’ group at the time and the veracity of it was so timely. I can remember a few specific instances for example: At the age of 14 I KNEW I had already met my future husband. I knew he was in my life #Godtoldme but I didn’t know who he was yet because I wasn’t ready to meet him. Thankfully I didn’t share this with many people because as you would suspect those I did share it with kinda politely smiled and nodded but mostly thought I was just downright crazy. Only in hindsight was I to realize years later that in fact yes – I had met my future husband, lol- in truth I had already known him for many years! I’ve always struggled with identifying Gods voice in the NOW. I think many people would agree that it is much easier to look back at a situation and see how Gods hand was in play all along. It’s when you are in the thick of a situation, decision, crisis that it’s much more difficult to decipher and hear God. So then it would lead one to understand the incredible difficulty in recognizing Gods call or will for your life in the future, to make a decision based on what God would have us do, not on what we are currently doing or have done in the past.
Yeah… Exactly. The confusion grows…
So in this crazy decision-making process to move my family and drastically change my life I have learned to decipher Gods voice in a combination of 2 things, Peace, and identifying a No.
We all know what peace is, hopefully, it’s because you yourself have been able to experience it, but even if you’ve never experienced peace for yourself, particularly Gods peace, I think most of us can identify what it SHOULD look and feel like. It’s that feeling when you know that you know that you know that you know. When even if it doesn’t make sense, you just know it’s right. Before now, the most prominent time in my life I can remember experiencing Gods peace was during my third pregnancy. At about 32 weeks baby was found to be very small, not growing well and my amniotic fluid levels were dangerously low. Doctors were discussing what was the best option for me, how to proceed from here, how much stress was the baby in etc. Was I to be put on bedrest, did we need a c section, was premature labour imminent? Essentially I had to be off work and very careful because the likelihood that baby would come early, either naturally or by emergency intervention was very high. During all this, my husband was planning a large missions trip to Haiti and was scheduled to leave in a week for two weeks. We received great Godly council from our lead pastors for him to stay home from Haiti and to take a care of his family first. However, Ryan and I both were completely at peace with him traveling to Haiti knowing that baby would be just fine and all we had to do was trust God that HIS timing and plan was perfect. It didn’t make any sense, and normally I would have been freaking out demanding my husband cancel his trip and stay by my side but oddly I was so okay. It was in that moment that Ryan and I realized that God was showing us something. Peace. His peace, that can come only from him in a situation that makes no sense, when you have every right to worry and fret you don’t. At times Ryan and I even laughed at how seriously our care providers were taking everything (as an RN I can only imagine what was being said about our lack of concern for our unborn child). So Ryan went to Haiti, and our beautiful baby daughter was born 2 days after his safe return home. I remembered that feeling, that peace that surpasses all understanding. That same peace was our driving force behind our journey and decision to move our family and start Vintage Church. We followed the peace.
Identifying the “No”
So another great way to decipher the voice of the Lord is to determine exactly what God does NOT want you to do. To be honest, sometimes I find it easier to know what I’m NOT supposed to do than what I AM. You know what a “no” feels like. When something’s wrong, the exact opposite of peace. To have messed up missed the mark, said the wrong thing, made the wrong choice the inability to sleep at night knowing something is off. That’s the “no”.
Early on in our decision to leave our home church Ryan and I had the opportunity to learn clearly what a “no” felt like as we contemplated moving to a small town of 2200 people. Ryan and I have always said that in our life if God says “Go”, then we’d go anywhere but I must say I thank God that this was a clear “No” as I picture myself in red lips and hot pumps in the middle
of farm town. But even after I learned what a “no” felt like, I still was searching for a big YES. So I wish I could tell you about this one big moment when Ryan and I heard the audible voice of God saying “move to Kelowna, Plant a church.” But that’s not our story. Our confirmation came in the peace, and in the absence of the “no”. I’m sorry if that’s anticlimactic, but for me, this was the perfect confirmation. Truthfully if I had seen a burning bush the likelihood that I would have discounted it as post night shift hallucination is very high. So Ryan and I then switched our prayers to look for the “no”. Praying for the “no”. As we considered city after city of where God might be telling us to go, Kelowna, specifically the west side, was the only place where we haven’t received a “no”. In fact, looking back now in hindsight I can identify many small “yes’s” were small things brought us confirmation, and we took another step forward in the absence of the “no” resting in God peace, moving forward in faith.
So I’m not saying that’s everyone’s experience. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be someone who gets to experience “the burning bush moment” but I just wanted to encourage the majority of those who don’t get that experience that Gods still there, he’s still talking to you, still trying to show you his will and his ways. Most likely your just too “busy” or simply haven’t bothered to stop and pay attention to what’s unfolding all around you. If you are already a believer in Christ, look for his peace. If it doesn’t feel right it’s not right. Pray for doors to close and there to be clear “No’s” and step by step continue to move forward in the small “Yes’s”. If you don’t know Jesus yet and are still checking out this whole crazy Jesus thing I’d love to share with you a bit more about who he is and why is so worth everything. Mayhaps that’s a future blog. Watching our story unfold has been a complete reassurance that God’s got us no matter what. That he cares about me, my family, and all the details involved. I hope one day I can share my story in its entirety with you over a nice cup of coffee, or perhaps a glass of wine. Oooh and a piece of cheesecake.