The Rumblings of the Spirit-Learning to Listen and Respond to God’s Call

by | Jun 12, 2023

Recently, I was visiting my daughter for a few days in her new apartment in Brooklyn NY. Around 4:00 am each morning, I began to hear the rumble of the subway running under her building. Since I am usually in a light stage of sleep at that point, this vibrating, low earth-shaking sort of feeling woke me up. And as I struggled in and out of sleep for the next couple of hours, I wondered if everyone else in the building was experiencing the same thing. I asked my daughter about it after that first morning and she curiously replied, “I heard it when I first moved in, Mom, but after a while, I got used to it and now I sleep right through it.That got me thinking…Is this what I do with God sometimes? 

I can recall instances when I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to pray for someone, to write a note of encouragement, or invite someone for coffee that I didn’t act on. This prompting went on for a few weeks and I kept putting it off. At some point I didn’t hear it anymore…Did God stop speaking or did I just grow numb to His voice?

Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience where you sensed God asking you to do something or change something but you ignored Him for a variety of reasons.  What was the result of that decision?  A missed blessing, distance in your relationship with Him, an undesirable consequence. Maybe you stopped hearing Him altogether. Know this friend….

                                                              He’s still there, waiting for you!!

Know His Voice

God speaks to us in many ways: through the Scriptures, prayer, dreams, wise Christian counsel, and circumstances/open doors. And when He calls us, He says that it will go well with us if we obey. Why don’t we say yes then, every time? Instead, we tell ourselves that we don’t have the time, ability or the money. We justify that it isn’t God we are hearing. We are afraid to fail, afraid of ridicule, afraid of rejection so we say, “no” or “wait”. FEAR, FEAR, FEAR. And if we tune Him out like a train passing by in the night, after a while, we can become anesthetized to His voice.

Now, let me just stop and say that it is imperative for us to discern if what we are hearing is truly God’s voice and not just our feelings and experiential perceptions.

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

John 10:3-4

How can we truly know God’s voice?

  • Start by receiving God’s free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We must acknowledge that we aren’t perfect. The Bible says that we can’t be in the presence of a Holy God without a savior to bridge the gap.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

  • Next, get to know God, His attributes and His character. God invites us into a close, intimate relationship with Him.

We love Him because He first loved us.

1John 4:19

  • We do this by spending time each day in His presence reading and studying the Bible. Praise and worship Him for His goodness, mercy and grace. Talk with Him each day in prayer and learn to practice His presence.
  • Thirdly, get in tune with the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity. The Spirit comes to dwell in those who have received Christ. Through Him we have the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead! We can accomplish anything the Lord wills for us if we get out of the way. We must allow the Holy Spirit work in us and through us.

When we pray, the spirit intercedes with the Father for us. He searches our hearts and guides us to become more like Jesus. The Spirit is our counselor and guide. He helps us in our weaknesses. Pray to be teachable.

We should also regularly reflect on what we have learned in our time with God.  Ask what action you should take or changes you should make in your life. A journal is a great place to do this. Make time after praying to just listen to what He has to say to you, without talking back.

When we practice these spiritual disciplines, our desires begin to line up with God’s desires. We want to do His will and obey His voice out of a grateful, committed heart. Listening to and following God’s voice is a natural outflow of prioritizing our relationship with God. We learn that we can trust God and His faithfulness. We gain courage to live out our faith, take up our cross and follow Him, regardless of the cost.

Keep in mind that if you hear anything that contradicts the whole counsel of the scriptures, then it is definitely not from God but from the enemy! (For more on discerning the voice of God, see Priscilla Shirer’s bible study).

When We Say Yes 

Samuel heard God calling Him in the temple when He was just a young boy under the care of Eli the priest of Israel.  God wasn’t talking to many people in those days and Samuel didn’t know God yet, so one night when He heard a voice speaking to him he thought it was Eli. And Eli told him to go back to bed. After this happened several times, Eli determined that Samuel was actually hearing the voice of God. And Samuel listened.

The Lord called Samuel to be a great prophet and a priest. Throughout his life Samuel followed the Lord’s instructions despite the personal cost.  He appointed Kings and spoke for God into their lives and the lives of the Israelites. From that first time Samuel heard God’s voice, he followed Him fully and God used Samuel in mighty ways.

On the other hand, Saul, whom Samuel appointed as King, made it a habit to sidestep God’s commands or chose to half-heartedly obey. When God tells him to completely destroy the rebellious Amaeklites and everything in their city, Saul took it upon himself to spare certain animals. He tries to justify His rebellion when he tells Samuel that he did it to make a sacrifice to God. But, Samuel isn’t having it. He rebukes Saul.

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

1Samuel 15:22

And because Saul rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord rejected Saul as King. Going through the motions of religion and just following the rules does not please God. He wants our whole heart!

It’s like when we give instructions to our children and they choose to do it halfway or not at all. Would you offer them rewards for their disobedience? Of course not! If we want a relationship with God where we experience His very best for us, we can’t rationalize when and how we will obey.

The Bible is filled with accounts of heroes of the faith that courageously stepped out in great faith to follow God’s call on their lives. Sometimes they saw the fruit in this life and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes it resulted in hardship or great loss. But, God was with them every step of the way strengthening them in the power of His Holy Spirit. And they absolutely received Heavenly rewards and often earthly ones for their obedience. What would have happened if these individuals ignored God’s voice? God would have found someone else to accomplish His plan and they would have missed out.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, could have said no to God and no one would have blamed her. She was an unmarried, teen girl and her response would change the entire trajectory of her life. She risked rejection from the community and being shunned by her family. But instead in Luke 1:38 she answered with,

“May it be done to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38

She did not hesitate, doubt or rationalize another path. She just said yes, God! It could not have been easy but God used her as part of his plan to bring salvation to the world. Talk about a blessing!

(To learn more, watch these animated stories, from the Bible Project, about the heroes of faith, Samuel  and Mary.)

Several times I have felt a big scary calling from God. Sometimes I listened and sometimes I didn’t; but, I can tell you that when I did listen the blessings were unmistakable. That doesn’t mean it was easy but the joy and spiritual growth that happened from obedience far outweighed the costs.

When my daughter was in 1st grade, she wasn’t doing well for many reasons. I prayed a lot for wisdom on what to do. My mentor in my early Christian walk had homeschooled her kids and I knew the amazing results she had. I thought I felt God calling me to do it as well, but I was scared to death. I had a ton of questions. This was 1998 and not many people were homeschooling back then. I was also living in Pennsylvania where there were strict laws about it and I didn’t know where to begin. But, I believe in prayer so I prayed and prayed.

It was Christmas time and I was walking through a children’s store doing some shopping. As I was pushing my cart down the book aisle it got stuck on something. I looked down and there was this book in the way. As I leaned down to pick it up, I started shaking when I saw the title, “Homeschooling: Questions Parents Most Often Ask.” I went home and shared my story with my husband. I told him that I firmly believed God was calling us to homeschool our children. We prayed together and he agreed.

This meant a lot of sacrifice on our part and it was far from a comfortable and easy path. But, God had a plan. So much good came from this time. We studied the bible together every day and both grew up in our faith during these years. She learned to look to God as her authority and source of approval not her peers. She went from not being able to read to become an avid reader and enthusiastic writer.

Eventually we put her back in traditional school but by then we had built a firm foundation that couldn’t be shaken. She went on to attend a Christian University where she majored in journalism and minored in Bible. Today she has a thriving career in public relations and she still walks closely with the Lord.

We can’t expect God to listen to us if we don’t listen to Him. My pastor, Tim Hawks, recently said, “When we obey God’s word and follow his plan for our lives, we build a life of meaning and leave an eternal legacy.”

I couldn’t agree more!

Take Inventory

Where do you feel God calling you, moving you?

  • To know Him better, to deepen your knowledge and understanding of His attributes and character? This is the greatest pursuit of man.
  • To forgive someone who has broken your trust or hurt you?
  • To deal with your sin, rebellion, weaknesses?
  • To serve Him, to step out in faith and take part in ministering to His people?
  • To share the Gospel with someone?
  • To give to His Kingdom, tithe?

Friend, you won’t regret going all in with Jesus. Ask, seek and you will find. This is a promise! Don’t be afraid to give God your whole heart. You can trust Him. He is faithful! He knows what is best for us. He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called! Next time you hear the rumbling of the Spirit speaking to you, tune in and say Yes God! And be prepared to reap the blessings!

Our life perspective and attitude is heavily influenced by what we think about. If we can manage our minds, we can “see” the way God intends. In this Spotify podcast from one of our MomQ lessons, we explore Jennie Allen’s book, Get Out of Your Head  to understand how to change what we think about and focus on. Listen below:

 

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