Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is That You, God? Thoughts on Discerning God's Voice

Hi Friends,

A couple days ago I received a letter from a reader about an article I'd written years ago. Out of that article, my reader friend asked me some questions on discerning God's voice and how, after a bad experience, we can trust we are hearing from God and not just ourselves or the evil one. It was a great question. And these questions about hearing God are ones that I've given a lot of thought to over the past years. So, I wrote back to her with some ideas that I thought might be helpful to you all as well, and to me as I attempt to gain wisdom about a new direction in my writing (just found out yesterday that my current publisher is not planning on doing more books with me after the release of Shades of Morning in June - ack, what's next for me???). So, I am now taking my own advice!

Anyway, here are some of my thoughts on hearing from God:

The first thing I've come to realize, and it's taken me years to see this, is that just because I go through something awful doesn't mean that I didn't hear God when I decided to embark on that path. Sometimes, his warning is a quiet one and he allows me to proceed into something unwise because he knows that in healing from that experience, he can make me wise. He plans to weave that experience into the fabric of who I am to make me more like Christ. Bad experiences can become real wisdom-builders for us, so it's possible that God just allowed us to go on the difficult path so he can bring us out into a new, wiser place. (see Romans 8:28 -- not everything is good, but everything can work together for good to those who are loving him and are called to His purpose).

Which brings me to the second thing I've come to believe, which is: It's better to seek wisdom than guidance. (This is my latest personal proverb!!) Not that seeking guidance is wrong, but just that wisdom is ever better. So, I've noticed that my prayers have shifted more away from "should I do A or B" types of prayers (though I still come to God with those questions too) and more toward "Help me to grow in wisdom so I will understand if I should do A or B." This whole idea of seeking wisdom (like Solomon did) has been really helpful to me, and it seems to be a prayer that pleases God. I think it's teaching me that God is more interested in who I am rather than what I do. My experience has taught me that he is very committed to making me into the person he envisions me to be.

Then, I've also been thinking about what's my job and what's God's job, and I've come to believe that it's my job to seek God with all my heart and seek to be wise. That's it. I just need to be faithful in those areas. It's his job to make himself clear to me. And I need to trust him to do that. I can't be worried about whose voice I'm hearing. That distracts me from growing and trusting. So, whenever I find myself concerned with whether I'm hearing God, myself, or the devil, I'm deciding to go to God and basically say something like, "Look, I really want to be wise about this. I'm seeking You, I want to be in line with You, please give me the wisdom I need, and help me to grow in Your wisdom. I'm committing this issue to You." Then I go forward in whatever wisdom is given, trusting that it's God's job to make himself as clear as necessary and to give the wisdom promised in James 1. Sometimes that will take a little time because God needs to bring additional information to me or show me something about what it is that I'm questioning him about. So, I try to watch and discern, and gain his perspective.

So, all that to say, I've stopped worrying about not hearing God correctly. Instead, I'm choosing to focus on just seeking Him and asking for wisdom, asking to grow in wisdom. The more I trust and put fear aside, the more confident I am in the wisdom he gives and the ways he's growing me to be more like him.

And finally, I've discovered that his love for me is so great that he will not only transform the difficult experiences into something useful, but he will also grow me so I can be closer to him.

So, as you all seek to follow Him, mull over my little proverb: It's better to seek wisdom than guidance. So, may you seek his wisdom in all you do, may you grow in him, and may you trust him to give you the wisdom you need.

Blessings and wisdom to you, my friends!!