Hearing God When You’re Making Decisions – Part 2March 31, 2005
Is there a more difficult aspect to the relationship mortal man has with God than the time when we attempt to hear His voice? We all would love to say like the Psalmist does in Psalm 18, “his voice thundered above the waters”. But, at other times, the thundering didn’t make a lot of sense to the average person. For instance, God spoke so very clearly to the masses in John 12. In fact, God spoke so that not only His son Jesus could hear, but so that all people there that day could catch on. But listen to what it says in verse 29: The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Even though God spoke so loudly and clearly that everyone could hear His voice, they attributed it to thunder or maybe an angel. For those who say, “I want God to speak so there cannot be any doubt, I am not sure how that would work.
When we are trying to make a decision, the clear thing to remember is that God didn’t just show up yesterday in your life. We are told in Isaiah that “before we even call upon Him, He is answering”. This suggests that God really is taking an active part in our lives, much more than we are aware.
So why do we need to hear God’s voice when we are seeking to make a decision? Can’t we just make a decision and trust that God knew what we would decide beforehand, and then work it out for us? That has an assumption behind it that would not be healthy to entertain.
The assumption being that God is ready to endorse everything we want and is willing to allow us to take the lead in ruling our own lives. Now, there is no doubt that God wants us to exercise dominion and control over our own lives (why else would he give us “self-control). But that is not the same as ruling our own lives. A person within a kingdom can decide to live each day as they please: They can eat what they want for breakfast, can stroll through the park or can shovel out a ditch. It is unlikely the King would interfere with these activities. Unless of course, the ditch in question belongs to the King or the oranges came off his tree. Then he might have a considerable amount to say about it all.
In the same way, there are things in life that you can do that you certainly don’t need to ask God about. C.S. Lewis calls these “Orange Juice” decisions. We don’t need to ask God, “should I drink orange juice or apple juice”? God will answer: “Which one do you want?” The only exception to this might be the indwelling spirit warning us that the Apple Juice has salmonella. But that’s another teaching.
God is interested in helping you stay on track with the plans God has for His work in the world and His work in our lives. Therefore, every day God is influencing our thinking processes, guiding us to understand more of the road ahead. In order to make decisions at the crucial stages, we must incorporate hearing God during those boring and ordinary times.
This morning, I was thinking about some of the issues facing me. I am still recuperating from surgery, but I am at that awkward stage of feeling well enough to get work done, but not well enough to put a lot of energy into it. I went ahead and put forward an agenda of work that was much too aggressive for the energy level I am supporting. Big Surprise! That tends to be my sui generis approach to life. But in the midst of doing that, God reminded me of a friend of mine that I hadn’t thought of in years. This man was pastoring a church in Portland, Oregon in the seventies. He suffered a mild heart attack and his doctor recommended he take at least six months off. He took two. Within a year, he had suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be hopitalized for a good long time.
He later wrote a book about the whole experienced titled, “A Few Things I Learned Since I Knew It All”. In that book, he warned that we must heed those small warnings God gives us before they get extra large. Extra Large might be a favorable size of french fries, but they suck when it applies to our problems. I sensed God was saying that I could relax and pace myself now or I could go in for more serious surgery later.
That is what it means to have God help you make decisions ahead of time. He is like a good coach that helps his team map out the plays that will be used at the beginning of the game. But God is also concerned that at critical junctures we listen for the play He is sending in from the bench. Next time, I want to talk about how you can pay attention to His still small voice on a daily basis.