If we believe in God, or even in just the existence of God, we acknowledge that there is someone who is far greater than us in power, in knowledge, in wisdom. And yet, isn’t it odd, that despite this acknowledgment, many of us are still trying to live our lives in our own ways? Maybe it’s because we aren’t just religious enough for God to matter to us?
Well, actually, it’s not odd, but makes sense. If the only things we know about this God is that he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, then we probably wouldn’t entrust to him our lives.
But we Christians know God much more than that (I hope). He is all those things, and more. God is also holy. God is love. He is just. But he is also merciful. Our Father. Our Lord and Master. Our Savior. Our Counselor.
And so we acknowledge God — that he is indeed far greater than us in power, in knowledge, in wisdom — and we try to live our lives according to his ways.
But here now is my question: Having thus acknowledge our own smallness compared to God, why is it then that sometimes we act as if we already know everything there is to know about him, his Word, and his ways?
And that’s just ironic, isn’t it? From knowing almost nothing to knowing everything. Or is this kind of attitude simply inherent in us as human beings?
My friends, this is just a loving reminder. The Bible tells us to lean not on our own understanding, and to see not ourselves as wise, but to trust in God and fear him instead (Proverbs 3:5,7). God himself reminds us of the reason why:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8-9 WEB
And you need to hear this reminder because my subject for this last part of my essay is a hot one — hearing and obeying God’s voice. Or, in broader terms, knowing his ways.
I know that this is a controversial topic, and for my situation right now, also very delicate. Honestly, I don’t want to do this; I’d rather not talk about things that could be painful for some. However, I do need closure, so that I can move on and leave all this behind… and so I have to at least present my personal views about this.
You see, my friends, my claim for Swordsman of the Word has always been that this blog, this ministry, is an assignment I received from God, and not my own ambition. That may not sound such a big deal — this blog being my ambition — but if I am truly seeking to obey and to serve God, and God alone, then my works for him must come only from him.
Now I understand that some people do not believe this claim. I understand that faith is a gift from God, and that it doesn’t always come to other people as easy as it does to me. But I also understand that only God — only God — can prove me right. Maybe by making this ministry so wildly successful that no one can deny it’s his doing? Yeah, that would be awesome. But I just don’t know how.
However, I do know the things I believe in; I do know my relationship with God; and I do know that his approval, and his approval alone, is all that ultimately matters. Therefore, though all this started because of my want for justice, vindication isn’t really that important to me, especially now that I’ve been writing my side of the story. As I’ve explained in the beginning, what I truly want is closure, so that I can leave all this behind.
What follows now are my views on hearing and obeying God’s voice — on knowing his ways. Please note that this isn’t a “definitive guide” — far from it. These are just some insights I’ve learned over the years. Moreover, I don’t want to explain things more than I have to, and so I opted to write them down as a list.
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It’s been recognized that God usually speaks in several ways, and some principles have been laid down about them. One of these principles is that God will never contradict what he has already said in his Word. Another is that God can use our circumstances and other people to point us in the right direction. And I do acknowledge that these established principles have been very helpful to me, and also that I do not disagree with them. However, I do not consider them as the “definitive guide” on how God speaks or how he works, nor would I build my life on them alone.
One trap that we could fall in, if we’re not careful, is to think that just because we’ve become familiar with these principles, we already know all of them. Or worse, try to rigidly enforce them on other people. But as I’ve noted before, God is a sovereign God, and he can do whatever he wants; and as he himself declared, his ways and thoughts are far higher than ours. We just cannot put him in a box.
Far more important to me are the foundations that God has laid down in my own soul during these many years of following him — the barely explicable knowledge of how he interacts with me personally, and how he works in my life. After all, a relationship is dynamic and personal; it’s not entirely made up of rules, to-do lists, and schedules.
Hearing God speak shouldn’t be such a mystery, but a natural occurrence with us who have a relationship with him. Yes, this idea isn’t original. In John 10:3-4, Jesus said that he is the good shepherd, and as part of his flock, we should know his voice. And yes, I agree, care should be taken, lest we hear the devil’s voice. But my point is, we should come to that point in our spiritual lives where we recognize Jesus’ voice so well, that we depend less and less on other means to confirm that voice. There are moments — critical and life-changing moments — where we need to do something, and we only have his voice to go on. Do you know your Lord well enough to risk your life?
God’s plans for our lives involve other people, and those people have their own free will. We may have surrendered our lives to God, and we may have followed his leading as best as we can, but if those people say NO… then we have a problem. Don’t underestimate free will. Think of Adam. He derailed God’s entire plan for humankind because of his disobedience.
We must not forget that we have our own responsibilities in God’s plans for our lives. We are in partners with God, and our part is obedience. Again, this isn’t an original idea. But my point is, sometimes we can get so caught up in trying to make sure it is God we are hearing — asking for signs from the heavens — when a simple act of obedience is all that is needed to make things happen.
Now for the hard one: Following God’s voice doesn’t always end in the way we expected. Yes, sometimes it does lead to “failure.” But the questions are: Are we mature enough to realize and to accept that God may have had other purposes than what we had in mind — purposes that we may never fully understand? Purposes that are, despite appearances, for our own good? And will we praise God for this “failure?” Will we thank him for the invaluable lessons we’ve learned?
And for the last one: Do not be afraid to take risks. Because God is good. Because God is faithful. He will never let us down. Whatever is the outcome of our obedience — either success or failure — we need to believe that God is taking us to where he wants us to be.
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My friends, thank you for sharing this difficult time with me. I am now at the end of this essay. My closure is done, and I am free :)
You know, in Bible school, I sometimes feel out of place, because my classmates all seem to have found their places in the Body of Christ. Most hold leadership positions in their churches. A few are pastors. And one is even a missionary from the United States.
And me? Well… I do this. Blog. Write these words. Starting something revolutionary in this brave new world of blogging, that some have not even believed that this is a real ministry.
But you know what, my friends, by his intervention God has shown me — assured me — that this is a real work of his, and that I am right where I should be.
And so next time someone in school would ask, “What do you do?”
I would now smile and say, confidently, “I’m a blogger.”
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This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. — John 17:3 WEB
How has this ministry helped you, my friend? Have you started to know God more?
The truth is, all these things I’ve talked about won’t have any real meaning to you unless you first have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know how to start such a relationship (and to know the story, the privileges, and the responsibilities that accompany this relationship), please read this: God’s Plan of Salvation.
Maybe you already have a relationship with God, my friend. Or maybe you’re not ready yet to take that step. Either way, if you are blessed by what you’ve read, even if only a little, and you want to stay blessed and grow in your knowledge of God, I’m inviting you to join my mailing list now, and receive my posts in your inbox.