For God does speak-now one way, now another-though one man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds - Job 33:14-15 NIV
What did you say? When did you tell me to do that? I didn't understand, can you repeat that? For those of you that have children, you can identify with these responses that you receive when trying to communicate with them. I can't tell you the number of times that I have gone into my sons rooms and find the clothes that I asked them to pick up no more that 10 minutes ago still laying on the floor. When I find them to ask why they didn't do as I requested and pick up the clothes like they were told, I get a puzzled look and this response: I didn't hear you. At this point, I look them in the eye, repeat what I said and stand by as they complete the task that I assigned them.
I wonder if our Father in Heaven feels the same way about us when He tries to communicate with us. Does He want to look us in the eyes, repeat what He has said and stand by as we complete the task that He has assigned us? Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. When we pray and ask God for guidance in times of trouble, we often feel that God is not listening when in actuality, we aren't listening. During these times we may not get the benefit that we give our children of repeating what we have said and then standing by to make sure that they do what we ask. Please be rest assured that God does speak. This fact is detailed in the Book of Job. Today's scripture states that God speaks in a variety of ways, but there are times that man does not perceive what He is saying. Like many of the men I have talked with, I wish that I would have a 'burning bush' moment like Moses experienced during his encounter with God. That way I could be sure that I am receiving communication directly from God and can proceed with confidence in the direction He is pointing me. I'm sorry to say that more often than not, we don't have the opportunity to experience the 'burning bush' moments that provide the clarity of God speaking to us. If that's the case, what are we to do to be able to discern the voice of God more effectively? I can speak of three items that have assisted me on this journey of listening more intently to God communicating to me. The first is freeing our minds from all distracting cares and things of the world, so that we can be open to receive divine instruction from the Father. The second is to be receptive to God using other mediums (speaking to us through friends, family or other sources) to deliver His message. The final item is listening to your conscience. Please bear in mind that it is advantageous to listen to your conscience only if it convicted and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Like a clock, listening to your conscience works only if it is set correctly.
I know that we would love to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are receiving divine instruction from our Father every time that we pray for guidance during times of trial and tribulations, but that doesn't happen more often than not. What we can rely on, is being open to receiving instruction and guidance by practicing the above referenced steps. It has worked for me and hopefully it can for you as well.
Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.