Who's Voice Are You Listening To?

Dear Friends,

Stepping out in faith, in obedience to what you believe God is calling you to do, is not easy.  If it was easy we would not need to exercise any faith.

It can become even harder when others misunderstand you or you sense you are being misjudged by them.  When you experience this it can be very painful and you can feel as though you are alone.  People may not understand or be able to make sense of what you are doing, they may think you are wrong, they may tell you you're mad to think you can do this, that you haven't got what it takes, that you're not qualified, they may even tell you that it's not God's will for your life.  They may misjudge your motives, judging that you're doing it for your own glory and recognition, that you're doing it to promote yourself.

It's painful and lonely because ideally we all  like to feel supported and encouraged.  We like to know there's someone for us, who's in our corner.  Especially when we are facing something difficult and perhaps out of our comfort zone.

What do we do when this is our experience?  Sometimes we think it's better if we go along with what we are hearing.  We can begin to doubt ourselves, to believe that perhaps we weren't right after all.  We can believe that others know better than we do.  We can begin to doubt that we heard correctly from God, that we were carried away with our enthusiasm rather than basing it on what God said.  We can begin to doubt God himself, to doubt that what he has said is possible.  When we experience misunderstanding and misjudgement sometimes it's easier then to just let go of what we believed God was calling us to do.  However, being easier does not necessarily make it the right thing to do.

Let me share with you what I do when this has been my experience and I hope that it will help and encourage you.

I regularly keep a journal.  In particular I write down the things I believe God has been saying to me and the direction I believe he wants me to take.  If I don't do that I just don't remember it!  Having it written means I have a point of reference to return to anytime I need encouragement or reassurance.

When others have told me I'm wrong or said something contrary to what I believe, rather than get discouraged (perhaps I should say, stay discouraged), rather than give up, rather than dismissing it altogether, I take it back to God. You see, sometimes we do get it wrong, and God can use someone in our life to point out that this time we've made a mistake, that we have  actually misheard God. So I ask God for his help, for him to show me if I have made a mistake, to tell me if I'm heading in the wrong direction, and ask him to help me to be open to changing my mind.

After doing that, if I still believe God is telling me to move forward as I have been doing, I ask him if he would reaffirm and confirm it to me again.  You know, God is so good to us, he never turns round and says I've already told you once, that should be enough. He doesn't get fed up with us asking the same thing again.  In my experience, he always, in his grace, speaks afresh to me, and I am so grateful for this.  In him and in his word is where my confidence lies.  He renews my strength so that I can continue to follow him, despite what misunderstanding or misjudgement I may face.  I can continue with resolution, not based on who I am and what I want to do but based on God, who he is and what he says.

Reassuringly, Jesus knows what it feels like to be judged and misunderstood.  The religious leaders of his time didn't accept that he was who he said he was.  They disagreed so strongly with him that they plotted to have him killed.  He was misunderstood by his own family at times.  Jesus was with his disciples teaching one day "When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'" Mark 3:21 (NIV)  Another time, near the Jewish Festival of Shelters,  "Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him." John 7:3-5 (NLT)  Jesus' disciples didn't always understand what he was doing "His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him." John 12:16 (NLT)

Jesus knew what God's purpose was for him.  He told the people "For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will." John 6:38 (NLT)  Jesus was determined and focused on what God wanted him to do, and nothing deterred him from being obedient, not even when faced with the misunderstanding of his nearest and dearest.

So, be encouraged, when you are following God and you face misunderstanding, Jesus knows how you feel because he experienced it first.  He knows and understands what you are going through and I believe he is cheering you on.

Each of us have a choice to make.  Who's voice will we listen to?  God's or the voices of those around us?  In Isaiah 30:21 it says "Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left." (NLT)  That's the voice I want to listen to.

It's my goal to follow the example of Jesus - to do the will of God, not follow my own will or that of another, and I don't want anything to deter me from obediently follow the leading of God in my life.

To Think About:
Has there been a time when your actions have been misunderstood by others?  If so, how did that make you feel?  How did you face that misunderstanding?  What was the result?

If you believe God is asking you to take a step of faith, to walk in obedience to him, what will your response be?

Who's voice are you listening to?  Who has more influence on you, God or another?



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