I was listening to a new friend talk the other day and he was sharing some beautiful truths that the Lord has spoken to him. They were wise and they were spurring me on in great ways. As he was talking, I noticed that he was using the phrase "I think God is telling me _____" and "I feel like God said ______". The more I listened, the more I realized that this is a such a common phrase that I hear and such I common phrase that I say.
During worship, I felt like God put _______ on my heart.
I was reading the Bible this morning and felt like God was showing me _____________.
Later on we sat in a group and I told my new friend that I trusted what He heard, and I didn't think he needed to say "I feel like God said ____". That sparked a really sweet discussion amongst us all about listening to the Lord, and the humility and boldness that it takes to hear from Him and act on it.
And while this is a dicey conversation and it can be taken a million different ways, I had this deep desire to tell women I love - you don't have to say "I feel like". I think there are a lot of people who take God's Word out of context or they put words in HIs mouth that don't line up with His character and His truth. There are genuinely crazy people that do awful and horrible things in the name of God and goodness gracious, I wish they had more of a hesitation when it came to doing what God TOLD them to do.
But when it comes down to it, this is what I want to tell my friends. And I consider you all my friends.
If you're in community and doing life with people that sharpen you and push you to Jesus, if you're reading God's Word and applying wisdom, if you're spending time developing the discipline of prayer and seeking HIs face - I believe you. Scratch that, I believe Him. I believe He really loves you and wants to talk to you. I believe the Holy Spirit is in you and will help you discern what He wants. I believe that you can hear totally wrong and He is still good. I believe that He might only tell you one part of something that has six million parts, for your good and His glory. But if you're sure God is telling you something and it lines up with His character and His Word - I believe you. And I will remind you of that thing He told you until you tell me to stop. Also, in love - if I feel like it doesn't line up with His character or His Word - I will challenge you and I hope you will do the same thing for me.
Some people might think it's prideful to be sure of what God is telling you, but I think the line between bold humility and selfish pride is easy to muddle here. Maybe pride looks like putting so much weight on your ability to get God's message right that you pretend to only "think" it yourself. Maybe pride looks like thinking so much of yourself (even negative thoughts) that you refuse to stop and listen to what important things He is speaking. Maybe pride is so focused on your sin and imperfections that it refuses to believe that His grace transforms those pieces of our life and makes us new. Maybe pride wants credit for that thing He spoke instead of attributing it to Him, or His eternal truth that has been "right" longer than we could even fathom.
The more I thought on this, the more I thought about people in God's Word who didn't take a moment's pause to insert "I feel like God is saying _____" when they delivered His truth. Some of them were prophets and some were heroes of the faith, but the fact remains that they were filled with the Holy Spirit - the same one that is accessible to us today.
In Luke 1 when John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth's womb upon being near to Jesus in Mary's womb, can you imagine if the dialogue was this:
Elizabeth: Now this is going to seem crazy, but I almost feel like my baby
just kicked extra hard because he was so excited to be around your baby!
Mary: (rolls eyes) Elizabeth, you always read too much into these things.
However in Jeremiah 13, Jeremiah boldly proclaims that God told him to buy a belt without batting an eyelash. Women, this was part of a bigger story, so don't tell your husbands that I told you it's fair game to to buy a belt or purse or jacket for your own gain. But still, go Jeremiah, right?
I love what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5: Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil. (MSG)
I say none of this to shame you if you struggle with faith or trust in God. I feel that too. Faith is my word of the year, after all. I say it to spur on boldness and belief and to put a little freedom in your hands. Hearing from God should always be less about us than it is about Him and we don't need to spend more time worried about messing it up than we spend soaking Him up.
I think He wants to talk to you.
Scratch that - God wants to talk to you.