Learning to hear and follow the voice of God is my lifetime pursuit. I want to be known as a friend of God and it’s impossible to be someone’s friend without knowing their voice. Those that follow Him know His voice. He is intensely practical and He is intensely good. Learning that has resulted in some epic steps in trust that were built on the many small steps of learning His voice. Here are some practical keys from our giant leap in responding to God’s voice to leave one country and go to another.
Early 2008 I was working as a Relationship Manager with the National Bank in New Zealand. Janine and I were also very committed to our local community of believers serving in many areas from discipleship to mission trips to governing board roles. At the time we both had a ‘gut feel’ that something was about to change.
Our best image of what that could look like at the time was that we would step into some kind of full time ministry role with our local church. It seemed a natural progression as we were already part of the senior leadership team, part of the succession plan and had no desire elsewhere.
So the first thing we did was ask.
Our senior leader considered it and responded “I don’t know where you fit.” It was a little hard to hear at the time but history would confirm it was clearly the right decision for our future. We just couldn’t see it yet.
So the only other thing I could see was to take on a promotion in my workplace.
However, after being selected as the Regional New Business Manager I realized it was going to seemingly take me AWAY from some of the core things we sensed were on our heart and the heart of God for us at the time. Family. International community development (a.k.a. ‘missions’). Local leadership…
We didn’t know what to do and we still had the gut feel something was about to change.
In May I went with a buddy to Uganda for the fifth successive year. It was a quick trip to check on progress of a number of community development projects. While there and sharing the challenge with my friend he expanded my imagination with a simple question:
“Why don’t you pray about it…. whether it is a geographic move?”
So I came home and wrote the question in my prayer journal.
“Is our future in this location?”
Two days later I was reading my four year old son a bible story from a children’s version. He always chose the action adventure stories. But this day he chose something different. I innocently read the story of Abraham from Genesis 12. The only words on the page were “And God said to Abraham…
“Get out of your country, from your family, from your fathers house, to the land I will show you.”
As I innocently read, a burst of energy hit my gut (His words release life – see previous blog). Was God speaking to us to go to a new country? Where would we go???
I wrote down the scripture in my journal and waited.
Two days later we had a mid week meeting at church with a visiting speaker. He opened up the text and read, paraphrased, from Joshua 1:2
“Now arise, you and this people with you, and cross over the Jordan, into the land of risk and promise.”
This time I felt slammed in my chest with the words. The context was that the Jordan River had been the line of limitations on the Israelites for 40 years. They couldn’t see beyond that.
I hadn’t been able to see beyond our current location. Any step was a step across my line of limitations into risk and promise.
I think God was speaking….
But there are two of us who make decisions in our family. What about Janine?
A couple days later Janine was going about her daily activities and threw out the statement, “God, give me a word.” Instantly a thought popped in her head: “Jeremiah 3:14.” She had no idea what that said so sat down, opened up a Bible and hunted down the reference. She started to cry as she read the second half of the verse:
“I will take you, one from a city and two from a family and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to my heart who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
Wow. I think we were hearing the Voice of God!
Where was He leading?
That’s when the focus and more intense seeking His Voice began. We wrote down all He had said so far then asked the next questions. Where? When? How? What the….????!!!!
More on that next week…
What did YOU HEAR as you read this?