Saturday, February 9, 2013

What Am I Listening For?

What Am I Listening For?

Learning to discern what’s best in a situation is difficult in a world dedicated to so many choices.  I remember two years ago when my husband and daughters asked if we could get a second dog.  I didn’t need to even pray about my answer because I knew another dog spelled more work for me.  But when my youngest daughter reasoned with me that having someone with her at night would help her sleep better, I caved in and said, “yes.”  (See photo).  Naturally, the sweet little puppy turned my world upside down and since I work from home, I was constantly taking her out and holding her on my lap.  When someone would walk by outside, the new puppy would begin yipping, inviting our other dog to bark.  I became instantly frustrated.  I resolved to teach this new puppy to see my daughter as her caretaker and not me.  It took a few months for me to keep getting myself out of the way but eventually both daughter and dog successfully attached themselves to one another.  My daughter never felt frustrated the way I did. I consider it a miracle, when I say, “honey, your dog needs to go out,” and I don’t feel the full responsibility.

A few months later, I was in a meeting with a group of 20 something year old women who gathered for spiritual reasons – some were believers already and some were not.  As the “older” women and I interacted with this group, I sensed the Spirit was vying for me to listen, I heard God telling me to stop taking full responsibility for the “spiritual” conversation.  Where had I heard this before?  In my spirit, I heard God saying, “Teach them to take full responsibility of this new gift but stay out of the way – they are not like you.”    What was happening was God wanted me to obey His voice and not just do what I saw as the “right thing.”  God gave me a place in the Spirit where my only responsibility was to be a channel so others could do the owning.

When I respond to God’s voice, “to obey is better than sacrifice. (I Samuel 15:22), am I confident I’m not motivated by my own preferences?  The human heart is fragile and can be easily swayed by what thousands of other people are doing, or easily rebellious by wanting to do its own thing.  Except for those who hear that Still, Small voice tenderly speaking to us, people do not seek a Word from the Lord; they want to find a word that coincides with what they long to hear.

If my own preferences are my reason for listening to God’s voice, it will not be long before my “self” motives change to judging, criticism, isolation, and fear.  My desires to hear from God may be strong and even passionate, but they are not Gospel centered.  The world’s voices and the enemy’s voice are far too strong to combat my own voice.  I need more than passionate desire to push back those voices.  I need the indescribable and invincible power of God.

Jesus Christ was motivated by two things:  doing the will of His Father and redemptive love, which called for His need to hear God’s voice while on this earth.  Unless similar motivations pulse through me, I will rely on my own resources.  But if I listen and obey God’s Word to me in a given situation, I place myself at the mercy of His resources.  How can I tell if I am hearing God’s voice or not?  By time.  Once that Word from God is completed, He moves us on to the next lesson.

Our goal is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and to “lift our eyes to the hills asking, “where does my help come from?” (Psalm 121:1).  God’s goal is to be our Helper in the word He has given us.  The result will be many people being blessed through our obedience.

What do you think?  What challenges do you experience when handling spiritual conversations with women younger or older than you?

One young woman asked me recently at a conference, “How do you know when you hear God’s voice?”  I’d love to hear how readers would respond to this.

See Dr. Jean Twenge's work on the younger generations: