By Nannah Francis
Forward planning is a process that our society has a slight obsession with. In job interviews, a popular question candidates are asked is, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”. For those of us who are uncertain about our future, this can be a terrifying query. It forces us to consider the trajectory of our lives, and in this particular circumstance we are preoccupied with giving an answer that will please the interviewer. Likewise, in our everyday lives our choices can reflect an eagerness to please those around us when we really desire to please God. It can be tough determining God’s voice among all the others that we hear and at times we can dismiss it completely.
Have you ever asked someone for their opinion and then done the opposite of what they’ve said? We can be guilty of adopting this same attitude in our interactions with God. We ask him to guide us so that we can fulfil his plan for our lives but when the path isn’t the one we envisaged or it requires making sacrifices that we’re aren’t initially prepared to make, we can ignore God’s voice in favour of our own preferred route. In these situations we’re listening to our own voice above anyone else’s. We convince ourselves why our decision must be the one that’s righteous and right for us.
If we’re not actively avoiding acknowledging what God’s saying to us, we might be struggling to hear God’s voice and identify his will for our lives in the first place. We have a cacophony of voices telling us to do different things. Everything and everyone from adverts, and authority figures to work colleagues and loved ones can pull us in different directions and distract us from God. Amidst all the noise it can feel impossible to identify what God is telling us. When we want to hear sounds in our day to day lives we tune out the background noise or turn up the volume. Figuratively speaking, both of these techniques can be applied when we’re trying tune in and hear God. Do you need to tune out voices that are leading you astray by no longer associating with negative influences? Do you need to turn up the volume on God’s voice by prioritising your faith over distractions?
It’s a lot easier to ignore or fail to hear God’s will when we have a poor awareness of who he is. Not knowing God well enough is one of the main reasons that we can find it so difficult to discern his voice. When we have good knowledge of God’s character, how he interacts with his people and what he calls them to do, we have a basis for recognising his voice.
So how do we get to know God? We can find the answer to this question in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”.
Reading and meditating on God’s word will equip us with the knowledge and confidence that we can differentiate his plan for us from those which contradict it. If the voice we’re listening to is encouraging us to do things that are completely at odds with Scripture and God’s character, we can determine that it’s not God’s will. Just like a light, God’s word will guide us onto the correct path. And, when we’re still unsure, God is always there.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5.