God speaks to me.
He did just the other day.
But, before I begin this post and tell you what He had to say, I'd like to say something about what it means when I say, "God spoke to me."
A lot of people are really thrown off by that phrase.
People look at you like you're crazy, naively foolish – or worse yet, arrogant.
I see three dangers when we talk about the Lord speaking to us.
One, we can be wrong. We can shape our personal thoughts and feelings, molding them subconsciously into our own set of priorities, desires, motives, and wishes. All of a sudden, God "speaks" to us, and we are pleased by what He says. Because, after all, it lines up with what we want to hear.
The second danger is that the enemy can also speak to us. Though as believers he cannot possess us – he can harass us. He is also capable of planting thoughts in our heads. Why else does the Bible call him the father of lies? Why else does the Bible tells us to wear a helmet? He can penetrate our thoughts, and we often listen. Because, after all, what he says also lines up with what we want to hear. Or, his words are not what we want to hear because they are demeaning, distracting, depressing, or downright destructive.
But, the third danger is almost the worst of all. If we're not careful, we can dismiss legitimate communication from the Holy Spirit. Labeling His words as our *own* thoughts, or simply our subconscious speaking, or just wishful thinking – we can lose a message that is correctly spoken.
Things can get tricky here.
How can we tell whether it's truly the Holy Spirit speaking?
There are three rules that I have found to be vital in discerning the Spirit:
1. Does it line up with Scripture? The Holy Spirit will NEVER say anything that does not agree with God's Word. Line up what you think you're hearing with the indisputable words of the Bible.
2. Is it self-serving? The Holy Spirit will NOT say things to us that serve only to promote us. His ONLY mission is to point us to the Truth, and His all-encompassing purpose is to bring glory to God.
3. What do other trusted believers think? The Holy Spirit often confirms His words to us through the confirmation of other believers. Trusted counselors are integral to the discernment process.
OK, so let's move on to what it feels like for me to hear God speak.
It's really rather difficult to describe. And I venture to say that everyone's experience is slightly different – because God is such a personal and intimate Communicator.
So, this is my subjective experience.
It's like a thought that bubbles up inside of me independently. It's like I think it without thinking it. Does that make sense? It's an urge, or an impulse, or a perfectly new insight. Sometimes it's a word of comfort, or a directive to take faithful action. Sometimes it's something that echoes the words of Scripture.
It's definitely a voice – not an audible voice – but an inner voice.
A voice that feels like it comes from somewhere inside me, but somewhere separate from my mind.
A Spirit talking with a spirit.
And, after all, isn’t that what the Bible tells us it will be like?
A still, small voice. A gentle whisper.
Yeah, sometimes God sounds a little stronger, a little sterner. But when He speaks like that, I pretty much know it's Him. How? Because I do NOT usually hear what I want to hear!
So, the other day I had a minor emotional meltdown. (Will someone please explain to me why I am STILL having PMS symptoms years after "The Change"?)
Looked it up in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary:
OK, picture me sitting on a boulder in the backyard, freezing cold in shorts and a thin sweatshirt. The sun is setting over the valley, the giant granite mountain above me is turning pink, the wind is blowing gently. It's a picture-postcard Kodak moment.
And I am crying.
I talk to the Lord, desperate to hear from Him.
"Lord, what is wrong with me? I really and truly want to love living up here. It's beautiful. It's everything I've ever dreamed of. Why can't I embrace all of this?"
And then, the independent Voice, the still, small whisper spoke…
"Because you STILL don't understand why I brought you here."
(Insert confused pause…)
"I brought you here to rest."
I was stopped in my tracks. Astounded. Greatly moved. Convicted and comforted all at the same time.
My Word for 2013 is DIRECTION. And all year long, I've been (frantically) searching for what direction God wants me to go. What is the purpose for me being here – specifically here, in the mountains?
DO, DO, DO…What does He want me to DO??
And, this word from God has stopped me.
I can't tell you the joy that began to wash over my soul as I pondered what He said.
He wants me to rest.
I have always loved the mountains, always felt like they were my *soul place*. And here I am – in the place that has always felt like *home* to me.
But, as you all know, I've been struggling.
However, now it is becoming so much clearer to me. I have been struggling because I've been focusing on what I've LOST – not on what I've GAINED – by moving here.
I have been looking back – (I'm surprised I haven't turned into a pillar of salt yet) – instead of looking around.
I have agonized over the GOP – Grand Old Purpose – that I thought God was making happen in my life "down the hill." Only to lose it all when my life came to a screeching halt up here.
But now I am pondering.
What I have defined as "stopping" – God has really been trying to tell me is *resting*.
Yes, the other day God spoke to me and gave me permission to rest.
I have been contemplating the many seasons we go through in life.
Seasons of blessing and abundance – seasons of dryness and depletion. Seasons of great ministry opportunities, and seasons of waiting.
But I don't think that I have ever really considered the idea that resting has a purpose.
Resting sounds like laziness, inactivity, complacency.
It sounds like a cop-out.
But I am beginning to realize that a season of rest has a purpose all its own – a God-ordained purpose.
IF we stop and recognize it.
God wants me to rest.
I feel a weight lifted off of my shoulders – I feel like I have been given permission to let go of striving.
I feel an invitation to go outside – to explore His creation. I feel an invitation to dig into His Word – for no other reason than just to bask in His love. I feel an invitation to speak to Him, to listen to Him – strictly for the intimacy of communion.
I feel an invitation to meet Him in the relaxation of my spirit.
Oh Lord, thank You.
It took almost the whole year for me to finally hear what HE meant by the word *direction*.
It meant to do what He was directing me to do. Not an end result, not a tangible path, not an action to take. Not direction like where to go – but direction like an actor receives – the management or guidance of someone.
Yeah, direction like that.
God has been directing me to rest...
And I am so grateful.
Grateful that He is graciously providing me with the time to process life. To filter and understand the many emotions that have hit me in the last year and a half. To ponder Him and His creation.
To take a spiritual deep breath – to inhale His Spirit – and to be content with only that.
To serve Him in stillness.
And now I get it – because God spoke to me – and I listened.
An unexpected message…that bubbled up inside…that spoke to my heart…
…and I have finally heard Him.
My Yoke Is Easy
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3, NASB)
"And He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.'" (Mark 6:31, NASB)
"...'I see that the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.'" (Acts 2:25-26, NLT)
"For we who have believed enter that rest..." (Hebrews 4:3, ESV)
What has God been trying to say to you this year?
(Note: I'll still be blogging, as I feel led to continue that - but in other areas of my life, I'll give myself permission to just enjoy my surroundings!)
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
Laura at PLAYDATES WITH GOD
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
Jen at UNITE
Darlene at TITUS 2SDAYS
Rosilind at A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAY
Jacqueline at ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER
Tracy at WINSOME WEDNESDAY
Judith at WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS
Nannette at WISDOM WEDNESDAY
Jenifer at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Bonnie at FAITH BARISTA JAM
Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Mel at ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS
Leslie at FAITHFUL FRIDAY
Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Wanda at THE FRIDAY FIVE
Salina at HEART REFLECTED
Barbie at WEEKEND BREW
Sandy at STILL SATURDAY
Janis at SUNDAY STILLNESS
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"