Every Saturday I’m going to post thoughts that occur to me that aren’t in a series or that don’t require more than one post. These aren’t just random thoughts or opinions, but rather things I’m learning from the Lord or things that are very important to me.
Today’s thought: How do I know God’s voice?
When Justin and I chose Johnson City, TN it wasn’t a random choice, nor did God’s voice boom out of the skies and tell us to move there. One thing you should know about us is that we research and plan everything. I knew I wanted to live in the Appalachian mountains which narrowed down a lot of states – anywhere that didn’t have these mountains. It ruled out the coastline cities as well. Justin was adamant about not living in any really large cities because of traffic (one of the reasons we left Charleston was because the traffic there is horrendous). We also looked at prices of rentals in the areas, nearby large cities so there were things to do, and safety (how much crime was in the area). I researched this for about a month and finally narrowed it down to Johnson City. Of course, now that we’re here, I sometimes think I made the wrong choice because it isn’t what we expected. With the lake gone the town is slowly dying out and most of the crowd here are older (retired age). But, I know God brought us here for a reason because He could have led us to any other city.
I’ve been saved since I was five years old and over the years I have learned how to (mostly) know the difference between my voice, God’s voice, and the enemy’s voice.
I’m a writer (obviously) and that’s how I focus my thoughts and even my prayers. I write down all my prayers and I also write down (in red) anytime I feel the Lord is speaking to me. I have thousands of red text examples and many of them have come true (I really need to go back and re-read them too). But some have not come true or have not come true yet.
Here’s an example. When I first started as a student at the dance studio, I wanted to become an instructor. I prayed for over a year asking God to open the door for me to become an instructor there. Do you know what I kept hearing in my spirit? “Don’t ask this of Me. It isn’t My will for you. You’re going to regret it.” But I kept thinking that it couldn’t possibly be God telling me that. Why shouldn’t I be an instructor? What harm would it do? I was persistent and God gave in to prove a point to me. First, I learned that when a hobby turns into a job, it’s no longer enjoyable. I started to hate dancing because it was no longer fun. But, more importantly, that’s when I ended up having an affair with a married man. If I had listened to that still small voice and stopped seeking that job and been content with being a student, the affair would never have happened. God didn’t cause the affair, but He allowed me to walk through the door because I was stubborn and refused to listen.
After we moved to Tennessee, Justin and I sought jobs. He got a part-time job at a Halloween store and nearly hurt his back with the heavy lifting (he has a bad back from things he did as a kid) so he had to quit. Then he started working part-time as a customer service representative for Amazon and hated it so much that he couldn’t even sleep at night because he dreaded having to work. It reminded him of being bullied in school (and he was bullied a lot) because the way customers talked to him was just like the bullies from his past. I prayed about it because I hated him being so miserable just so we could have money, and I felt peace from the Lord that Justin could quit that job and focus full-time on our own business, Tara Outdoors.
In the meantime, I was trying very hard to do freelance writing work to make money. I started at Blogmutt, who accused me of plagiarism after about a month there. I later learned that a lot of writers on that site were accused of plagiarism and we were never allowed to fight the accusation, just terminated immediately. I also worked on Upwork, Textbroker, and Scripted. All were good places and I made several hundred dollars from each of them, but after a month or so work just dried up and I couldn’t find anything anymore. I kept asking the Lord what He was doing. Did He want me to work outside the home then?
But in my quiet time every day, every time I asked Him what His will was, He has repeatedly told me to trust Him, that a financial miracle was on its way, and that He wanted me to work full-time on my blog and writing my books. He knew that freelance writing was killing my love of writing (remember what I said about a hobby becoming a job?) and that when I was so focused on making money I stopped working on my blog and my books because I was busy doing other things.
Now, how do I know that is from God? Ultimately, until we receive our financial blessing, I won’t truly know it’s from Him. That’s where faith comes in. But, I do know that it isn’t my flesh. My flesh keeps telling me to get a job, to make myself financially secure, that writing my books and blog just isn’t that important. Those are the thoughts that occur when I start to feel afraid and worried about our finances and our future. And I highly doubt that the thoughts are from the enemy, because the more I work on my blog and books, the more I can reach other people and help them grow in the Lord, and the more I am growing in the Lord. These past 7 months have been strengthening my faith and drawing me closer to the Lord Jesus, which is never the enemy’s goal. Logically, then, if the thoughts clearly aren’t from me and they’re not from the enemy, they have to be from God.
So, how do you know when you’re hearing from God?
Does it line up with God’s Word?
If you think God is telling you to have an affair, or date a non-Christian, or something else that is totally against His Word, you know it isn’t from Him.
I’ve asked this about our own situation. Does it line up with God’s Word for us to be working from home, not getting jobs outside the home, and trusting God to take care of our finances?
If we were being lazy and playing video games or watching TV all day, doing nothing but expecting God to pay our bills, I would say we were deceiving ourselves. But we are being faithful in what we believe God has called us to do. Justin is working on Tara Outdoors and J.T. Korvette, trying to learn all he can about running his own e-commerce business and how to make it better. I am faithfully putting out blog posts and vlogs and social media and writing/editing my books. We’ve joined a church, are about to join a small group (now that we finally found a church), and I’ve been volunteering with assisted living facilities – all of which I believe God wants us to do and we are being obedient. We also Bible study separately and together and constantly seek God’s will. We aren’t stubbornly trying to hold on to our dreams. We give them to the Lord every single day. He hasn’t directed us to do anything else, so we must keep being faithful and trusting Him.
God’s Word is full of true stories of people who faced impossible situations (like Justin and I are right now) that they couldn’t solve on their own. But God took care of each one of them, no matter what their problem was. He brought people back to life, healed the sick, multiplied food and oil, parted the sea, walked on water, paid taxes with a coin from a fish’s mouth, caused the sun to stand still, and conquered armies without using people at all – and that’s just a small portion of the incredible stories you find in His Word. So, who are we to put God in a box and say He can’t do the same for us?
Is God opening/closing doors?
Another way you can know if you’re hearing God’s voice or not is to see what doors He is opening or closing around you. If you think He’s leading you to a certain job but then the door closes on that job, it wasn’t God’s voice. If you are thinking of marrying someone but then he or she breaks up with you, that’s a door God is closing and you need to wait for His best.
In our case, we’ve tried to get jobs outside the home many times and they either never contact us or they reject our application. Those are closed doors that God is using to lead us where He truly wants us to go.
We have to learn, as children of God, to allow God to solve our problems instead of trying to do it ourselves. That doesn’t mean we don’t take action steps. On the contrary, our first action step is to daily seek God’s direction and then follow it, no matter how crazy or unconventional it may seem.
In our hearts and spirits, Justin and I feel like we are doing what God has called us to do, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else, or even us sometimes. And if we really are hearing from God, He’ll work it all out in His perfect timing.
Does it scare you?
If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t from God. God wants to do big things in our lives – things we can’t possibly achieve on our own. He told Joyce Meyer that she would preach to millions. She couldn’t do it on her own and she was afraid at times, even doubted. But He accomplished His will and now she is reaching millions.
If your dream is just to reach the top of your career ladder, you may want to question your goals. You see, we can’t make goals for ourselves. We need to seek God’s will and ask Him what His dreams are for our lives and take our goals from that.
Justin’s dream is to go to third-world countries and build schools, churches, houses and the like. He wants to provide them with food and clean water. He can’t do this on his own and it scares him because he doesn’t even know where to start. But God’s got a plan and Justin is seeking Him.
My dream is to be a mom, raise godly children, write books, and have a Christian marriage ministry. I can’t do any of those things on my own. I can’t even make myself have kids because as every woman struggling with fertility knows, only God can open or close our wombs. And right now we can’t financially afford a child and that’s in God’s hands as well. As for my books, I can write them but I can’t make people buy them, I can’t make a publisher take them on and publish them into hard copy books, I can just self-publish with Amazon. And my marriage ministry? I don’t even know how to begin that – but God does, and He will in His timing when I’m ready.
So, ask yourself if what you’re hearing from God scares you. Not that God causes fear, He doesn’t, but the dreams He places in our hearts will be too big for us to achieve on our own. If your dreams for the future scare you because you know you can’t achieve them alone, good! We have a great big God who never leaves us alone!
These are my thoughts on how to hear from God and know His voice. If you have anything to add, I’d love to hear it! You can post in the comments below or send me an email through the contact form.
Also, please check out my FREE e-book entitled “20 Ways to Improve Your Marriage.”