5 Things To Do After Hearing God's Voice
I've learned the hard way in past transitions what happens when attempting to follow God’s voice in the wrong way. Luckily I have learned my lesson in many respects, and this most recent transition was initiated and sustained by the Holy Spirit. What seems to be a noble cause in passionately pursuing the commands of your savior can, in fact, become misguided, self-sustained foolishness if not tempered with wisdom and experience. How do we avoid the pitfalls of ambition and presumption, yet, at the same time, remain bold in obeying God’s voice? How do we step out in faith, but step out in the right direction? After some serious reflection and introspection, here are five things I’ve learned to do after hearing God’s voice.
1. Stay faithful.
A wise mentor once told me, “wherever you are…there you are.” It might sound silly, but something clicked for me. I was so anxious about entering the next phase of life, the next job, the next mission field, the next season, the next “promise land,” that I had forgotten to be fully present right where I was. How could I expect God to use me in the future if I didn’t let Him use me in the present? My lack of contentment was clouding my judgement, misguiding my focus, and stealing my attentiveness. Three ingredients absolutely necessary to be used of God in any circumstance. I was more focused on changing my future than resting in God’s presence (which is, of course, the key to contentment). I was more focused on conquering the destiny God had shown me than asking Him what he wanted me to do in my current context. My first encouragement after hearing God’s voice is simple: stay faithful. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, don’t bail. Don’t quit. Don’t lose motivation. Don’t lose momentum. Give your current situation all you’ve got. God will change the circumstances in His timing and in His way.
2. Wait on the Lord.
Another wise mentor in this season explained to me what he called “presumptuous sin.” (Psalm 19:13) Something, even after all my christian education and ministry experience, I had not heard of before. He shared a helpful analogy and said that presumption is like a sheep darting out in front of a shepherd and getting eaten by wolves. Not a pretty picture, but I got the point. I was getting ahead of God. I was putting the cart before the horse. This is why waiting on the Lord is so important. In order to follow God effectively, we must learn to wait on Him, not just for general guidance, but specific instructions. It’s not just about doing what God tells you, but how God tells you, when God tells, where God tells, with whom God tells you, and why God tells you. Otherwise your motivations, methods, and message could be way off base and you wouldn’t even know it! Even taking a month to listen to God, pray, and fast could drastically change your course of action and your future. Although there is an urgency to the gospel, there is a rest in God’s presence. He wants to accomplish His mission, but like any good general, God’s not in a rush, at least not with the important things of building your character and downloading the strategy. He knows how to be patient enough to formulate a plan and you should too.
3. Seek counsel.
Before making any decisions we must first seek God’s counsel in His Word. What does the Bible say about the situation, the vision, the destination, and the plan? What does God’s Word say is the wise thing to do? Obviously, some things will not be specifically mentioned in scripture (like who to marry or what job to take) but the principles in scripture guide us to make the right decision. It is also necessary to take what you have “heard” from God and submit it to scripture. Every personal revelation from God must be in accordance and agreement with scripture because God cannot lie. (Num. 23:19) Beyond scripture we must also seek the counsel of faithful men and women of God who have gone before us and have maturity and experience. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Prov. 15:22) Mentors have a way of knowing the proper course of action; they can be an invaluable resource in helping you determine/filter the will of God. I totally failed in this regard in a particular past transition and did not seek any counsel until after I had made some really foolish choices. I felt God’s call and obeyed without asking for help. Luckily, I had plenty of input from mentors this time around. It seems honorable to obey swiftly, but like many of Peter's rash mistakes, it is not wise to act before looking to others for feedback. Obviously, there will be those who do not understand God’s call on your life, but there should be plenty of people close to you that can offer biblical guidance and sound instruction. Do not move forward until you have confirmation. If you are married, seeking your spouse as a form of counsel is an absolute necessity. Without agreement in that relationship you are doomed to fail.
4. Weigh the options.
After waiting on the Lord and seeking counsel, sometimes multiple doors of opportunity open that make it even more difficult to follow God’s voice and discern the right choice. This is how it was for me. After no opportunities for over a year, the floodgates opened up, and I had to discern which was the "best" choice. I think it is important to remember God’s providence here, namely, the fact that He will “never leave you nor forsake you.” (Duet. 31:6) God can and will “use all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” (Rom. 8:28) This should take the pressure off a little. Although you want to make wise decisions, no matter what you choose, God isn’t going anywhere. He will continue to guide you and use you. If you make a wrong turn, He will get you back on track and to the right destination. There is no choice that God can’t redeem for His glory, no mistake that is too big for Him to turn into a testimony of His goodness and mercy. That said, it is very helpful to seriously weigh your options. Play out the scenarios of each potential opportunity and the repercussions/consequences of going that direction. Again, this is a great place to bring in mentors and be transparent with those close to you. Consider all the practical implications and don’t be afraid to make a list with pros and cons. It’s not cheesy. It helps.
5. Pray and fast.
Last, but definitely not least, pray and fast! Continue to seek God every step of the way. Do not just assume that He wants you to run forward with the first thing He has spoken. Wait on Him to reveal the details in the secret place of prayer. If He is not saying anything, then just wait. Try to mute the other voices around you by fasting. Fast from media, food, and anything that could distract you from hearing His voice. Get alone with God. Find some solitude preferably out in His creation. He will not remain silent forever. Hold to the promises of God: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13) He wants to go before you. I can tell you from experience; as soon as I started to really trust God’s plan and seek Him before every decision, things started to fall into place. He is a good daddy and wants to provide for HIs children. Give Him that opportunity.