I find warnings on packages to be entertaining. We are instructed not to blow dry our hair while in the shower. We are warned not to operate gas-powered machinery near open flames. Of course, all labels warn us to never consume toxic chemicals. Did you know that operating a vehicle while intoxicated could be hazardous to your health?
These warnings are often so ridiculously obvious that we tend to ignore the labels all together. I don’t know how many times I have read one and laughed, “Who in their right mind would even consider doing such a thing?”
Hearing God’s voice through circumstances should come with a warning that says: Do not obey unless it is confirmed to be God.
It is true that God speaks through our circumstances. But this mode of communication can be greatly misused if not properly understood. Too many people read into the situation what they want to see and hear. When I see the messes people get themselves into, I think there are times we need to ask, “Are we in the right mind?”
Here are a few warnings to heed if you are reading your circumstances to hear God’s voice.
Open doors can lead to disasters. Just because the path seems easy and clear does not mean God is directing you through the door. Remember, Jesus warned us that wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction. The easy way can often be the wrong way. Jesus said that small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life. The word narrow suggests a rough road to travel. God’s voice will often guide you down a path that is difficult to tread. But remember, His ways always bring the greatest growth and blessings.
Closed doors need patience to open. When all our options seem to shut down around us, we can’t assume that God is not in it. So often when one door closes we quickly move away looking for another more friendly door to enter.
God often uses closed doors to teach us to wait upon Him. For reasons known only to Him, He can want us to sit still and listen. Maybe we need to seek more of His wisdom before proceeding. Maybe we need to allow Him to mold our hearts into a more usable tool for the work ahead. Often times, He wants us to stay put until He has all the circumstances we cannot even see lined up perfectly for His plan.
When we try to force the door or run away to another door, we can often miss the best of God.
More is not always God. Elijah discovered this truth at the mouth of the cave. God was not in the great wind, earthquake, or fire. Sadly we have the viewpoint that if it’s big and showy then it is God. Satan often masquerades as the angel of light. He can counterfeit God’s miracles and mislead us with his deceptions. God often speaks in the still small voice that could be easily missed in the hoopla of grandeur.
Faith requires an unknown first step. Whether we like it or not, there are times when we just have to move ahead in faith. If we have prayed earnestly with humble hearts and God has not directed our steps through any circumstance or word, then faith is required. We move ahead in the direction that appears most Christlike of all the options, trusting God to bless. Oswald Chambers says that we need to become the will of God. We need not always ask and watch for signs to line up. An act of faith will be a step into the unknown knowing that God is there ahead of us…even when we can’t see Him.
Use your past to guide your future. God follows patterns. He has in His Word and He will in your life. For example, God has a pattern of giving warning of coming judgment then rescuing the righteousness before His wrath is poured out. Consider Noah, Lot, and the coming rapture.
Now look back over your life and chart how God has worked. How has He most often spoken to you? At the crossroads in your past, what method has He used to direct your steps?
In our family, God tells me of the coming change then He tells Mike. He always warns us months ahead that a change is coming. We then know it is time to pray with open eyes and ears to see what it is. He always tells us the same thing, “You will know when it comes!” This allows us not to try to predict or to be mislead with every seemingly available path. When He moves it is divinely apparent to everyone involved.
I will continue this topic next week. Until then, use your time wisely by creating a timeline of your life charting how God has directed your steps. Look for His pattern in your life.
Pray that God will make His ways clear as you seek Him in your circumstances.