“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 (ESV)
As my husband told me about the conversation with our son, the wrinkle in my brow deepened. The more he spoke, the deeper it became.
Our firstborn was in seventh grade at the time, and during the drive home from youth group, he’d asked deep questions about faith.
“Why can’t I hear God speak to me?” he asked. “How do I know I’m really hearing from God?”
Because these questions echoed some of my own, I panicked. Instead of seeing them as part of my son’s spiritual growth, I wanted tidy, black-and-white answers and step-by-step guidelines with which to answer him. But there is no rulebook for recognizing the voice of God, is there?
It is a lifelong journey of seeking Him, taking a step and sometimes faltering, only to get back up again. We want a GPS telling us when to reroute, but instead God gives us a relationship, telling us to trust Him.
Sometimes I read stories of God speaking directly to His people in the Old Testament, and I long to hear His audible voice. I receive a word from God but then question whether it’s really Him. I hesitate to move forward, and instead of acting out my faith, I’m like Moses after God asked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt: I want visible confirmation.
Moses boldly said, “Now show me your glory,” and God delivered (Exodus 33:18, NIV). Moses had to hide in a rock as the glory of the Lord passed by, and although he wasn’t allowed to see God’s face, he received the assurance he needed to do what the Lord asked.
Most of us won’t behold the Lord’s glory the way Moses did, but when we accept Jesus as Savior, we receive what Jesus described as being better than His physical presence: the Holy Spirit. How could anything possibly be better than seeing Jesus? But Jesus knew His leaving earth would allow each of us who accepts Him to receive this beautiful promise:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
God can speak through other believers, His creation and His Word, and as our faith grows, He wants each of us who’ve named Him as Lord to recognize the voice of His Spirit.
As I spend time nurturing my relationship with God, I become confident in knowing when a word is from Him. My journey has taught me these things about His voice:
- It’s consistent and steady. The Spirit’s voice will never contradict something from His Word or His character. (John 16:13)
- It may convict, but it does not cruelly threaten. Fear is a tactic of the enemy, and his goal is for us to live our lives captive to it. (John 16:7-8; 2 Corinthians 3:17)
- It propels us to take action. He wants us to live the full lives He planned for us and to fulfill our purposes in Him. (Psalm 143:10; Galatians 5:16)
I admit I panicked when I heard my son’s questions because I didn’t have tidy answers. I didn’t want my son to stop believing if God didn’t answer the way he thought He would. But eventually, I realized my son's questions indicated growth. A healthy faith is one that continually moves forward, even when we doubt.
God knows there will be times when we question His voice. The good news is that He keeps speaking in the midst of our uncertainty. Let’s take some time to get still and listen today. The more we do, the more we’ll recognize Him when He speaks.
God, thank You for the gift of Your Spirit. Thank You for continuing to speak to us, even when we doubt and hesitate to move forward. Give us confidence in our ability to hear You today, and propel us to act on what we hear. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (NIV)
How has God confirmed a word you received from Him, even if you hesitated to act on it at first? Tell us about it in the comments.
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