A Burning Heart to Hear God
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper (emphasis mine).
1 Kings 19:11-12
Yesterday, we discussed hearing God as an on-going conversational relationship. We determined that it was God’s heart to speak to us and be spoken to by us. God treats us as friends not slaves: he does not desire to order us around. The Lord draws us into his presence tenderly, leading us by his love. He wants a relationship with us, not a command/control robotic dynamic, but a moment-by-moment conversation.
God’s voice rarely speaks in the midst of the noise and chaos of worldly distractions. Most often, the Holy Spirit leads in thoughtful silence, physical repose, and reflective prayer. He is not a “chatty Cathy;” he will not overwhelm us, but will speak to us in unguarded moments. Recognition of God’s voice is not automatic, but is developed over time in love relationship. Remember, God desires you; therefore, he will withhold information in order to keep you near. As we yearn for direction, he will lead us step-by-step to keep us dependent on his wisdom and fatherly care. Christ said that we are his friends, not his robots (John 15:13-15). He desires our love far more than we desire to love him.
The development of character must be the primary purpose of the Father. He will guide us, but he won’t override us. That fact should make us use with caution the method of sitting down with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper to write down instructions dictated by God. Suppose a parent would dictate to the child everything he is to do during the day. The child would be stunted. The parent must be guide in such a manner that character, capable of making right decisions for itself, is produced. God does the same.
E. Stanley Jones, Victorious Living cited in Dallas Willard, Hearing God through the Year (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 19.
Ways and Means
The Lord uses numerous means to communicate to us his will and his direction: sovereign circumstances, Holy Scripture, Christian biographies, dreams and visions, audible voice, faithful counsel (Prov. 15:22), church leadership, and even silence. These “lights” will operate by confirming one another, adding means upon means, making God’s will and desire clearly known (2 Cor. 2:14-17).
Oswald Chambers encourages obedient believers; God’s word is “yes” until we hear a “no.” Since, Christ is living in us by the Holy Spirit then he will be faithful to lead and guide us. Not all “words from the Lord” are dramatic and overtly supernatural; often God does use our sanctified common sense to direct our path.
In the life of a child of God, the human motive is the disguised Divine. Sanctification means that I become a child of God, consequently my common-sense decisions are God’s will unless He gives the check of His Spirit. I decide things in perfect fellowship with God, knowing that if my decisions are wrong, He will check. When He checks, I must stop at once. It is the inner check of the Spirit that prevents common sense being our god.
Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1996), 154.
God’s voice is precious to those who are members of the fellowship of the burning heart. This fellowship is made up of men and women who love God above all else. Broken and consecrated, they yield in simple surrender to God’s will.
To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), 14.
The “burning heart” ones passionately desire God’s glory over and against the world’s passing pleasures. God will repeat his guidance repeatedly to those who love him and long to do his will. The Holy Trinity’s goal in guiding us is not to bring us into a painless life of ease and comfort. The Father’s ultimate goal in speaking is to develop a deepening love relationship with us. He will lead us step-by-step to keep us dependent on his help and assistance in the midst of the surprises and difficulties of life.
Basic truths about God’s guidance: if you are born from above, you hear God. The Father knows you by name and is personally concerned about your personal concerns (1 Peter 5:7). God speaks through a variety of means: each designed to act as a confirming agent of his direction. In addition, a believer instinctively knows the difference between God’s voice, the sinful nature, and Satan’s deception.
Let it be made known, God always leads us to be actively engaged in personal ministry, corporate worship, responsible relationships, and sacramental participation. We have an individual relationship with the Lord, but we are not individualists (1 Cor. 12:27). We value other believers for they see our blind spots: they assist us in hearing God by reminding us of our weaknesses. Last, the Holy Spirit will never contradict his own written Word, the Bible.
As believers, we should all expect to hear God. His speaking may be as low-key as a nudge in our spirits or as dramatic as a face-to-face encounter with Jesus himself. The expectation of the Christian life is a personal, intimate, communicative relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.