The Bible tells us we all “know in part…” (1 Corinthians 13:9). God rarely given one person the entire perspective.
It is not a weakness in our relationship with the Lord when we only have a piece of the puzzle. When the Lord speaks to us everything is seldom crystal-clear. We often miss some of the details, and we sometimes make assumptions of what we believe the Lord has spoken.
Sometimes God speaks to our spirit, but our soul (mind, will, and emotions) gets entangled with our inner voice. We get a message that is not completely from the Lord. Sometimes what we hear is partially the Lord and is at the same time partially us.
People often ask me, “How do I find the destiny the Lord has called me to? I just do not have a complete picture of what the Lord is saying.” Some people spend many years waiting to hear a voice from heaven or wait until they receive supernatural direction. Many never receive it.
I believe we must step out in faith, and God will lead us from there. You may need to be moving if you want God to show you which way to go. It is much easier to steer a moving vehicle than a parked on. So, step out in faith. Get in motion. The Lord tells us, “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure” (Proverbs 16:9). He leads one step at a time; and if you take one step forward and it’s the wrong way, He will let you know before you go too far. Step out in faith and find out which doors God will open for you and which ones He will close.
A suggestion: Taking small, slow steps at first will prevent us from falling so hard if we are wrong! We can stick our toes in the water to test the water, do to speak. Take one small step of faith. If God opens the door, then take another step. If He closes the door, then back off. Try another direction, or wait a while; but always keep praying and then step out again.
Even the parents of Jesus had to made some adjustments in their direction until they had it right. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take baby Jesus back to Israel. So Joseph headed in that direction, but on the way was frightened to hear that the new king was Herod’s son who also wanted to kill Jesus. Then in another dream Joseph was warned not to go to Judea, so he went to Galilee instead, and lived in Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23). Joseph and Mary were not sure what steps they should take, but they took one step at a time. The Lord knows that He could overwhelm us by revealing the whole plan at once, We might be frightened and not take the first step.. Consequently, He leads us just one step at a time so we can handle it.
God doesn’t push us out into the cold with only a map in our hands. He leads us by providing His Holy Spirit to guide us. He wants us to keep our eyes on Him, and then follow alongside Him one step at a time.
Paul, the apostle, as intimate as he was with God, did not always hear the entire message from the Lord all at one time. He had to take one step at a time. On one apostolic journey, he and his companions were making their way toward Ephesus, but God stopped them. Then he started northward, and came to Troas. Finally, Paul had a dream and saw a man pleading with him to come to Macedonia which was where God wanted him. Many came to Christ there (Acts 16). This is an example of incremental guidance where Paul heard God’s voice in part, and step by step he discovered the way God wanted him to go,
Abraham is another example of someone who trusted God to lead him one step at a time. His story in Genesis 12:1 describes the start of his faith journey. “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” God gave Abraham step one. He implied that he wasn’t getting step two or three until he had accomplished step one. This sounds like common sense, but it is so true: God usually gives us His direction one step at a time.
Many people run into a problem here. They refuse to take step one until they think they understand the next steps. If we know all the steps ahead of time, there is no need for faith. Understanding this truth that His will is usually revealed to us one step at a time will build our confidence to do what we already know to do — step out. After we take the first few steps, our faith will really begin to grow.
At times, we are stretched in faith as we step out to do things that we do not have any experience at or are not comfortable doing at first. I am convinced that no one is instantly a spiritual giant who takes great steps of faith in the beginning. Faith grows and develops through experience.
Trust is so important when we take those “faith steps.” Did you ever ask God to supply a financial need and God came through, but only at the last moment? I think the Lord sometimes gives us what we need at the very last moment because faith grows by stretching.
Faith is the bottom line when it comes to learning to hear the voice of the Lord. The Bible says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). A weatherman uses radar and satellite to predict a storm coming. He is sure the storm is coming, but he cannot prove it because it has not yet physically arrived. When the storm comes it is no longer faith, but reality. Once we have a manifestation of what we desire in our circumstance, we no longer need faith in that area. But unto we hear God’s voice, we need faith!
The Bible says that the natural man does not understand the spiritual man (1 Corinthians 2:13-14). This means that our reasoning mind often does not understand our spiritual mind which is the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16b). The Holy Spirit reveals things to us when we are ready to handle them. If He revealed everything that’s wrong with us at once, we would be crushed.
We learn, through maturing in Christ, that if our heart is right, and we trust and obey the Lord when He speaks, God will honour our steps of obedience. We may make mistakes but God will take our mistakes and turn them around for good. The fact that everything works towards our good does not mean it will always feel good or that we will enjoy the process. His Word says that He makes “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) and we can trust His Word.
After serving the Lord for many years, I am totally convinced that it is more difficult to get out of His will than we often think. If we do stray off course, He will reach out in love and nudge us back on track.
It is easier than we think it is to hear the voice of the Lord. We really have to stop trying so hard; in fact, God’s Word says, “The servant of the Lord must not strive” (2 Timothy 2:24).
Relax and enjoy your relationships with the Lord. Remember, His sheep hear His voice. He is our Shepherd and when we begin to get off track, He reaches out with His staff and guides us back on the right track. The key is for us to stay submissive to His will and voice. I have found that if what I am sensing is from God, it stays with me for a period of time.
We certainly need to discern the Lord’s voice carefully, but let’s not over-spiritualize hearing from God. If God has something to say to us, don’t worry, He knows how to get His point across. It is our responsibility to listen with expectancy and test what we hear.
It appears that the “normal” method of operations between David and God was for David to do what was in his heart, and God promised He would be with him. This is reflected in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and he will give you the desires and leveret petitions of your heart.”
This works two ways: first, He gives us what we long for; but secondly, He also places a longing in our hearts for things He wants us to have. David, however, never assumed that God’s direction for one day would be the same for the next day. He listened for the Lord’s instructions for each battle he fought (1 Chronicles 14).
Philippians 2:13 says it similarly, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” God places desires within us to lead us in the way He wants us to go.
God is at work in our lives, teaching us to listen and then obey the voice of the Lord. Most Christians never have a face-to-face encounter with Jesus as Paul did on his way to Damascus. Even Paul didn’t always experience the heavens opening up or angels appearing every time God spoke to him. We are led by His Spirit speaking to our spirits every day of our lives.
Let’s continue to listen to the Lord, recognize that He speaks to us because of His wonderful grace, all the while realizing that we are only hearing a part of the whole message. He may want to speak more to us, and He may want to use another method to speak. This keeps us dependant on our growing relationship with Him.