Listening to God sometimes feels like trying to divine what’s inside a wrapped gift.
Hey, I deal in metaphors and mental pictures. It’s just how I’m wired. If I can’t relate a new concept to one that I already understand, I won’t understand it.
So, you know when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying to God? He says, ‘Take this cup from me’. Then he follows it up, with ‘yet not my will, but yours be done’. (Luke 22:42)
In my mind, there’s a gift wrapped present sitting next to him, complete with colourful paper and iridescent curled ribbon. Right on top, there’s a card that says “SURPRISE!” in bold lettering.
I’ve always had this mental picture of God’s will being all wrapped up like a fancy present.
I guess it’s a good thing that I picture God’s will as an unknown gift. It could be worse. I could picture his will as coal in my stocking or one of ‘those’ sweaters from my great-aunt.
Even though I knew it was good, God’s will has felt unknowable until after the fact. And it’s awfully hard to navigate by a map that you haven’t seen yet. But I’m learning that his will is knowable. I just have to learn how to get the message.
Listen to God
Those of you who have read UpGradual before will know that panic is a feeling that I’m familiar with. And, guess what? The feeling that has caused me the most pain, is one of the main ways that God uses to direct me to his will.
I don’t mean that all of those moments of terror have been my kindly Father trying to communicate. That is something else.
But there’s a feeling that comes in the lead up to total panic that, if I recognise it, is actually God talking to me.
For example, right now, I’m transitioning from full-time stay at home homeschooling mom to working outside the home, at least part-time.
When I think about starting a business or doing freelance writing, it really feels like there could be some life there. But when I think about cranking out a bunch of resumes and splashing them all over town…
… just from writing that, I can feel my breath come a little shorter, not in a good way.
It’s in the process of deciding what to do outside the home that I’ve learned to ‘listen’ to my feelings instead of looking for words from God.
Of course, I have to practice knowing the difference between what he has for me, and what is my preference.
But, honestly, my preference is to stay at home and homeschool both of my school aged kids without working. Which makes learning to listen to God easier.
Instead of second guessing myself – Am I just feeling stressed about that because I don’t want to do it? – I can know that I’m choosing between two directions, neither of which is what I really want, and my feelings of repulsion and leading are, likely, just that. God leading me to or pushing me away from something.
Knowing God’s Will in Advance
Will I truly know what God’s will is ahead of time?
He’s never going to send us a registered letter, signed and authenticated so we can call it worldly proof. That wouldn’t be faith.
The best we can do, I think, is learn to get really disciplined at hearing, or in my case, feeling God’s will. And then, we need to walk where he is leading.
Can I ask you for your feedback?
I would love to hear the ways that you’ve learned to listen to God. I know that God doesn’t communicate in a cookie cutter fashion. How do you hear him?