on January 15, 2009 in Ze Bloggy Goodness with 22 comments by

Yesterday I sat at Fido with a friend and we discussed hearing the voice of God.

[For you Nash-people, I am fully aware that I am nowhere near cool enough to frequent Fido. But my friend is definitely cool enough to be there, so they didn’t ask me to leave.]

We talked about how challenging it is to hear God sometimes, how (honestly) unsure it can be, and how working out our salvation isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

She said something to this effect, so I’m going to paraphrase instead of quote:

Hearing the voice of God and living out of that reality is like flirting in public- everyone sees it and knows that it’s going to go one of two ways- you either succeed or fail.

[Sometimes when my non-writer friends say profound things like this, it makes me realize that everyone could do my job.]

The reality is, you either have heard the Lord correctly or you haven’t.  For example, though this has never happened to me of course, sometimes a person [let’s call her Shmannie] think the Lord has shown her who she is going to marry.  And then two years later Shmannie sits at the wedding of that exact person, laughing in her head and weeping in her heart just a little bit.

Not because of the marriage, but because it is scary to think that you can’t hear God.  Or that you heard God wrong.  And it brings so many fears and questions to the surface.

And there is no resolution to this- I think that this is exactly what “working our salvation out” looks like.  At least it does for me.

The truth is that flirting in public is really scary because you have no idea how the other person really feels about you.  In contrast, when we are trying to hear God, we already know how He feels about us, so some of the internal pressure is gone.  But it’s that external pressure, all the eyes and ears who watch you try to live according to what you’ve heard, that make failure a scary reality.  The ones who make you feel like if you flirt in public and don’t get a date, the issue is you and your flirty-skillz.

Somehow these words deserve to be in this post, but I don’t know where or how: Brave. Grace. Risk. Worth it. Complicated. Love. Simple.

So I have no clean ending to this one- it really is just me trying to think through how to help a couple of my friends who want to hear God desperately but maybe aren’t having the easiest of times with it right now.  I know God’s heart for them, I know that He doesn’t make it hard to know Him, I know that He wants us to hear Him FAR more than we want to hear Him.  So I’m praying and asking Him to make these verses true in the lives of the people who have open ears.

Jeremiah 33:3

‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Isaiah 30:21

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Your thoughts?  What do you tell someone who is struggling to hear God?

I’m all ears.  🙂


  1. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 1:28 PM  |  reply

    Experiencing the same thing now…graduation is in a few months!

  2. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 2:18 PM  |  reply

    Hey Annie,
    This is sort of a hard question to answer, isn’t it?

    I think though, when I read Jeremiah 33:3, that sometimes what we misunderstand is that our callings will be answered right away, and that the great and unsearchable things will come quickly. I read this recently, and I think it applies here:
    “Although spiritual hunger and need are prime requisites for light and understanding, the Holy Spirit does not release the treasures of the Word quickly nor easily. ‘Deep calleth unto deep’. We have to be prepared, and even then there is much time and digging and praying and meditation and yearning and experiencing involved. [That’s alot of ands.] The spiritual reality comes in no other way, but, praise the Lord, it does come in this way!”

    I would say press on. Don’t give up, and just trust that God will tell you what you need to know. And if you make a mis-step, it can always be corrected.

    And as for all of those Mr. Rights you thought you might marry, I’m sure that at some point during your relationship/courtship, the truth would’ve been clearly revealed – because your heart was so open to hearing God. He would’ve made it clear. Sometimes we wait and stir and wring our hands and agonize, but eventually, the answers come.

    I hope this helps.

    And I love that you posted this. Working out our salvation is indeed some tricky business… but so worth the laboring… because one day we will experience God’s promise of rest.

  3. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 2:35 PM  |  reply

    I struggle with the same thing, so I don’t have any easy answers. Also, I can totally relate to your story about Shmannie sitting at the wedding 🙂 What I do know is that you are totally cool enough to hang out at Fido!! Order the Pink Poodle.

  4. Jennifer
    posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 4:32 PM  |  reply

    After struggling with this very topic for most of last year (and trying not to do it in front of my kids…not that you don’t want them to see you struggling…you just don’t want them to misinterpret what they see) I can say that God showed me one distinct thing…LOVE ME. I think I heard that for several months before I blew up at GOd one day and asked Him what He meant. (I think there was a loud DUH!!! that day.) But as I thought through things and cried my eyes out one day I felt a hand on my shoulder just sitting there. I knew I needed to develop a comfort with His prescence and a willingness to simply sit with Him. For this person who seems to be comfortable filling her days with endless (and sometimes meaningless) tasks, that was so hard. I still struggle with it. But, I KNOW with everything in me that when I will be obedient in this, I can walk in the Way and walk in His will and work out my faith.
    Of course, that lesson came publicly as I cried many times in church and with trusted friends. So, as you work it out…make sure you have a safe place. Your friends who listen to God will help you from getting too far off track. But dare to be alone with Jesus. Much love, sweet one.

  5. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 6:13 PM  |  reply

    Annie, I know you don’t know me, but i stumbled across your blog a couple of months ago and have been reading it ever since 🙂
    I LOVE the analogy between living out of where God is calling you to and flirting in public. it’s PERFECT! and that’s exactly how it feels a lot of times…completely vulnerable and unsure…
    The good thing is, i think that God absolutely loves it 🙂
    Thanks for always supplying a good read!

  6. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 6:17 PM  |  reply

    Great post Annie. First off, let me say that I’ve got a website pretty much dedicated to this kind of thing. You can find it at http://www.presencevoicetouch.com. I’ve got a free ebook you can download (55 pages) on hearing God’s voice.

    But secondly, I’d like to share two things:

    1. Confirming what you hear is best practiced on little things that you can pray about but not lose the farm on. And probably not with future predictions. Not like, “Shmannie, marry Bob.” But more like hearing, “Share your cookie with Bob.” Cause see, the stakes aren’t that high, right? And Satan’s probably not gonna prompt you to be nice to people (last time I checked, he wasn’t into the random acts of kindness thing). I also find that I learn more about God’s voice in hindsight than any other way.

    2. Whenever serious romantic emotion is involved, it’s pretty tough to hear straight without hormones getting their two cents in. Seriously, as a pastor with lots of experience, I can say that pretty much every single person who confessed being seriously disappointed by what they thought God said but didn’t actually say mentioned a time when they thought God was apparently speaking into a romantic relationship they wanted really badly. Seriously, this is pretty consistent. I would say this is where listening in community, bouncing things off trusted others, comes in.

    Cause it sure can be heartbreaking. Tell Schmannie I feel for her. Whoever she might be. Ahem.

  7. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 7:40 PM  |  reply

    David talked about wisdom vs. revelation on Sunday. It was interesting to think about the difference. Paul prays we will have both. Maybe we walk in wisdom and listen for the revelation, that thing that is specific to us. I always think I will know it when I hear it. I wonder if I do. I think your 7 ideas at the end sum it up nicely. You. You’re good.

  8. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 7:54 PM  |  reply

    Oh my goodness – – my small group is doing a study right now on hearing God – – Jen Hatfield’s Tune In: Hearing God’s Voice Through the Static. I gotta tell you, I am hearing God’s voice right now confirming that this was the study for us to do.

    I think the key with hearing God’s voice is “Are we listening?” One of the verses we looked at was Isaiah 55:1-3 – – well when I looked at it in the amplified version what stood out to me was in order to hear him we have to surrender ourselves and accept his conversation, we have to submit and consent to His will.

    Your flirting analogy – – how often when we flirt do we sit there and do all the talking – – don’t ask the guy questions, don’t actually ‘hear’ that he’s told us he loves to fish or is an avid photographer. If the object of our flirtiness can’t get a word in edgewise – – of course he’s going to ‘reject’ us. But how awesome that our heavenly father doesn’t do this. He just sits there and tries to get a word in.

    Eventually, some of us will be still and actually pay attention to Him – – listen for Him or be open to hearing Him.

  9. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 10:24 PM  |  reply

    i think a lot of times it’s just a matter of getting out of your own way….sometimes we put “us” and what we want or maybe what we “think” God wants for us instead of really “listening” to what He really might have to “say”!! **stops rambling**

  10. posted on Jan 15, 2009 at 11:11 PM  |  reply

    Thank you for this post…I feel like this is right where I am right…my heart knows that God has good and perfect plans for my life, but my head is having a hard time figuring out the plan. This spoke to my heart!

  11. posted on Jan 16, 2009 at 1:16 AM  |  reply

    Annie– Because you totally dialed my numba with this one- yes, you did. It is risky. And I think it is such a learning process. Sometimes you hear Him right, sometimes wrong. And you’re right, because for me, once I realized I heard Him wrong, it shakes me to the core in a way nothing else can. Because He is my security. So when that gets off kilter, it shakes things up a bit. But it does require grace to know we’re all learning and figuring this thing out. Because it’s so not of this world to hear from a Living, close-but-far-away God. I don’t have any answers. I just know, keep pressing in. And fear not, because we are His, therefore, He will always lead us back aright. His grace is sufficient, and He longs to tell us those deep and unsearchable things. For all the times we get it wrong, when we get it right, it’s so worth it! Thanks for writing this post! (Love the flirting analogy- so true!)

  12. posted on Jan 16, 2009 at 9:42 AM  |  reply

    That feeling that Shmannie had at that wedding?
    Been there. Done that.

    Thank the Lord that He knows what’s going on because I certainly have no clue.

    Thank you for letting God speak through you in this.

  13. Cabana Maam
    posted on Jan 16, 2009 at 12:06 PM  |  reply

    Love this post and this question. I certainly don’t have any answers, but this week I started Beth Moore’s Esther study and she touched on this issue in the intro message. I don’t want to oversimplify this, so just consider I’m sharing what I took from this week’s teaching. 🙂

    When we know unconfessed sin isn’t the problem and we are in the Word, we have the opportunity to pray God’s promises back to Him and continuously renew our minds to Truth that specifically addresses His presence in our need. (Your choice of verses was awesome.)

    Beth notes that one of the ways the book of Esther is unique is that God’s name (intentionally) doesn’t appear because He has lessons to teach us about when we may not be able to “see” Him and need eyes to see by faith. (I apologize if that’s a direct quote–I wrote it in the margin. 🙂

    I don’t have clean ending to my comment either…just wanted to throw this out there because I’m walking through this one too.

  14. posted on Jan 16, 2009 at 3:29 PM  |  reply

    I would throw “obey” into your assortment of words that need to be included. For me, the occasions when I think I hear something from the Lord and act on it and it doesn’t end up the way I thought it would, it’s not about the result. And it’s not that I heard wrong necessarily. To me, those occasions are about whether I’ll go where I hear Him leading me. Will I trust that He knows what’s best for me? Will I act on the trust that I say I have in Him? The more I do that, the easier it is for me to get into a posture to hear Him in other situations.

  15. posted on Jan 16, 2009 at 11:15 PM  |  reply

    Perhaps we hear what we want to hear?

  16. posted on Jan 16, 2009 at 11:26 PM  |  reply

    1) Be impeccable with your word.
    2) Don’t take anything personally.
    3) Don’t make assumptions.
    4) Always do your best.

  17. ginger
    posted on Jan 17, 2009 at 1:33 AM  |  reply

    I have not been able to get this post out of my thoughts since last night. (Read: I wasn’t planning this comment, but here goes anyway…) I have been in the “Schmannie” place & when I was in the midst of wondering what God had in store for me (hard), He spoke to me through Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart,” as well as Psalm 46:10a, “Be still and know that I am God,” & Jer. 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare (peace) and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I guess what I’m saying is that I tend to listen for God through Scripture. It doesn’t change; it doesn’t lie. And I learned to talk to God. A lot. Not instead of friends. But I knew He had the answers & cared about the silliest of my girlie emotions. And I didn’t take the chance of getting my heart trampled unnecessarily. And He protected my heart. Which is big for me.

  18. posted on Jan 17, 2009 at 1:45 AM  |  reply

    Mmmm… you people are good.

  19. posted on Jan 17, 2009 at 9:45 PM  |  reply

    Saw on article on Boundless that made me think about this post…


  20. ginger
    posted on Jan 17, 2009 at 10:11 PM  |  reply

    K, just had to add: go to Jason Gray’s web site, http://www.jasongraymusic.com/site.php# , launch the jukebox, and go to the song “Move.” It so speaks to this subject, imo. That’s all. (c:

  21. posted on Jan 18, 2009 at 10:59 AM  |  reply

    ” For Southerners, flirtation is merely a descriptive word for being reeeaaalll nice. We flirt with everyone including other women, children, elderly folks, and, of course,or perhaps I should say especially,men. Our special brand of flirtation is not sexual, but rather a unique and useful people skill.
    That is why social flirting is an art, it takes practice. But, those women who retreat hastily from attempting full-hearted flirting will never taste the sweet nectar of success that resides permanently on the tongue of the polished, prominent social flirter.”

  22. Eric
    posted on Dec 01, 2010 at 1:40 PM  |  reply

    Hello. I’ve been searching out this very topic quite extensively, as I’ve lived quite a bit of my life trying to hear God. I’m starting to believe that hearing God via inner impressions is simply pop-Christianity. I haven’t been able to find a single example of hearing God wrong in the bible. Why? Because God’s will is not hidden for us to search high and low for and agonize over, and then wonder if we got it right. Ever tried to hear from God, and then follow through with something that seemed very silly? The good part is that at least you did it in faith. The bad part is that over time you just eventually feel like a dummy, and that God is totally haphazard and random. I’ve found that the book “Decision Making and the Will of God” by Garry Friesen is a good resource for understanding this topic. Haddon Robinson, Kevin DeYoung, and John MacArthur also have good books as well.

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