What do you want me to do?
I was making a major decision about changing jobs and possibly moving. This usually involved asking God what he wanted me to do and being obedient as I could regardless of whether I wanted to do it or not. I somehow my logic was the more I didn’t want to do it, the more likely I could trust it was God talking to me. Everything changed dramatically one afternoon on my back deck.
Things started as usual, “God, what do you want me to do?”. God’s response was pretty clear, “What do you want to do?”. This made me uncomfortable. It’s not that I hadn’t heard God say this before, but what if I was just telling myself this. Could I really trust my desires? Aren’t my desires full of sin and self-interest? So, I tried a different approach, “What do you want me to want?” His response again: “What do you want?”. We went back and forth on this for awhile until God basically said to me, “Think about what you want and when you know let me know.” And then I saw as in a vision God sitting down, calmly, peacefully right by me and waiting.
So, I took some time to think about it and like unpeeling an onion, I started listing off various things I want from providing for my family and having basic needs met, to other things I want in life and my job. As I got deeper and deeper into my desires I hit a point when I realized what I want more than anything else. My main foundational desire is to see heaven come to earth, now. I really want people to experience more of what it is like in heaven here on earth in everyday life. And it’s not because this was the ‘right’ answer, but because I authentically desire it.
And that’s when it hit me. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) What Jesus was saying to his disciples he was saying to me, which helped me finally embrace what I was hearing. Friends make decisions differently servants with their master. Friends share desires and decide together what to do. Servants, as I had become accustomed to doing, try to understand their master’s orders as clearly as possible and obediently comply. There can be joy in this. It can be out of a servant’s love and gratitude toward the generosity, character and benevolence of the master. But, still friendship is different, as is being a son/daughter of God (Romans 8) and bride of Christ. Friends can serve one another, a son/daughter serve his/her parents, a bride her groom, but in terms of biblical imagery its not the other way around.
Now there is alot to hearing God’s voice when we are making decisions, more than I can cover in a blog post. But, it helps to pay attention to how you view yourself in relation to God.
For some, God is in control of everything and our lives are following a certain blueprint. Our job in making decisions is to follow this blueprint. Any deviation can prevent you from experiencing God’s ‘will’ for your life. I’ve never fully resonated with this view. I’m not saying it’s wrong, because God speaks to us in different ways. For me it’s more common to experience God guiding me differently in different situations. Sometimes God strongly tells me, “do this”, giving me a specific way of handling a decision. Other times there are multiple options and basically says, “It’s up to you.” And encourages me to listen to and trust my desires. And it’s gotten to the point where I’m constantly processing through decisions (big and small) with God. Sometimes God has input, sometimes not. Sometimes I can’t tell.
So, what becomes most important in hearing God’s guidance in times of choice is intimacy with God throughout life (not just in making decisions) then when it comes to decisions we can lean on relationship, not just rules, principles and formulas and we can recognize what God is saying to us in the moment.
So, want to get better at hearing God’s voice in times of choice? Spend time with God when you don’t have a decision to make. Hang out like friends, with no agenda but relationship. Go ahead, God loves you, desires you and wants you to share in his desires.
This post is part of a series on hearing God in everyday life. Right now the focus is on what God talks about: his love, the truth, conviction about sin and the focus of this post, guidance in decisions. Consider subscribing to receive future posts by e-mail.