God’s will for our lives is something that most people seek. Even if someone does not believe in God, even if they are not pursuing Jesus with their lives, they still want to know what God knows. There is a desire within every person for divine direction or support. But how do we know when God is speaking to us? Many of us, myself included, wish that God would just give us a “burning bush” like He did Moses; that He would give us a clear cut direction and tell us plainly what we are to do and what decision to make. Unfortunately, God does not commonly use the burning-bush method. However, it is clear in Scripture that God still speaks to us. The question is how do we determine when it’s God or when it’s something else? God speaks to us in many ways. I want to list a few of those and explain how you can distinguish God’s voice amongst all the other noise.
One of the most common ways God speaks to us is through the influence of others; allowing someone to speak into your life. Often this influence and guidance comes from a spouse, pastor, trusted friend or family member. Someone who knows you beyond the surface level can speak honestly into your situation. God can use that influence in a powerful way. However, this method is not consistently reliable. A typical motivational speech, for example, lectures you to ignore the words of others and pursue your dreams. Don’t let others from stop you from imagining, dreaming and daring to be great. Sometimes the words of others can even be born out of a jealous heart. They discourage you because they are envious of what God may be doing in your life. How do you determine whether God is speaking to you by using the influence of someone or whether their voice of opinion or jealousy should be ignored?
Another way God speaks to us is through life situations. Events, both good and bad, are naturally a part of our lives as we live day-to-day. We encounter positive moments such as a new job opportunity, recovering from a major sickness or surgery, or getting accepted into a university. We also, unfortunately, encounter dreadful moments similar to losing your job or getting an unwanted call from the doctor. These life situations, good and not so good, can be God speaking to us. For instance, maybe you are seeking God’s direction for where to raise your family. If there is a new job opening in a city that was on your radar, God just might be giving you a clear sign. However, it is frequently challenging to determine how God is using a life situation to speak to you. Is God telling me to go or stay? Is this a clear sign from God or is He wanting me to continue to wait and trust His plan? God will use life situations to speak to you but knowing His will for certain can be arduous.
A third way God often speaks to us is through the leading of the Holy Spirit. As children of God and followers of Jesus, we are gifted with the continual support of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a guide and counselor to all who believe in Christ. Therefore, the Holy Spirit plays a vital role in God speaking to us. We can feel the pull of the Spirit and follow His direction to lead us into God’s perfect will for our lives. However, the difficulty comes into play when we consider our natural human emotions. How do you regulate whether the Holy Spirit is leading you down a certain path or your emotions are determining your destination? Emotions can lie and cloud our judgement but the leading of the Holy Spirit will often resemble an emotional feeling. How do you evaluate whether the Holy Spirit is guiding you or if your emotions are in the forefront?
I realize I may have just made it even more difficult for you to determine whether or not God is speaking to you. I listed three ways God speaks to us and all of them are ambiguous. However, the fourth way that God speaks to us is His primary source of communication and it is the lens we must look through to evaluate the previously listed methods. God speaks to us using the influence of others, life situations, the leading of the Holy Spirit and finally and most importantly, through the Word of God. The Bible is the lens we must continually look through to evaluate how God is speaking to us. There are unarguably some things the Bible does not address. You will not find a Bible verse that tells you which church you should or should not attend. And there are no passages telling you how many children to have or which university you should attend. There are countless questions that the Bible does not directly answer but the Bible should be the lens we use to evaluate whether the influence of others is God-given or born out of jealousy. It is through the lens of the Bible that we can determine how God is using a life situation to speak to us or whether the Spirit is leading us and not our emotions. The first three methods can be vague and indistinct but looking to the Word of God to determine clarity in all these instances will remove uncertainty. Therefore, study and know the Word of God. If you find yourself at a crossroads, not knowing if you can trust someone’s influence or if you think your emotions are overpowering, look to the Word of God for clarity. The Bible is sure and true and if you seek God through His Word, you will find direction and peace.