I tend to be one of those who says, “I felt God tell me…” but I think I will change that way of speaking. I still believe that I discern a difference between what I think God is telling me to do and what my own self wants to do. I have been sensing God’s inner voice in me for decades now. What I have learned through the years is that I can be such a poor receptor for God’s voice and although I hear it I don’t always hear it completely or accurately.
When I was seventeen years old and praying over my vocation, I felt God say tome, “I want you to be a Christian counselor on a church staff.” Atthe time I had never heard of anyone being a Christian counselor on a churchstaff (often a clue that it is God’s voice—having a thought thatyou would not come up with on your own). Up until that time I had been consideringPhysical Therapy as my vocation. I decided to major in psychology. When I gotto college I discovered that I could easily do a double major in Psychology andChristian Education. I was preparing both to work on a church staff and be aChristian counselor. That is not how my vocation has turned out. First, God provideda position on a Christian counseling staff for 18 years. All those years I waswaiting for God to move me to a church position, but it never happened. For thelast five years I have been Minister to Women on a church staff, but not a Christiancounselor. Presently I do Christian counseling and am a minister. There weremany years before I served on a church staff that I pondered whether I had beendisobedient to God’s specific call. I talked to friends and spiritual advisorsabout this. All of them saw that my heart was not unwilling to be a Christiancounselor on a church staff, but that I had never had an opportunity to fulfillsuch a position. What I came to discover after all these years is that, althoughI heard part of the message right and followed God’s plan through my trainingin college, seminary and graduate school, my specific hearing of God’svoice was not always perfect.
God has been showing me this lesson as I consider the communication that goeson between me and my dog, Aggie. He hears me call his name. He knows my voice.He loves me. He wants to serve me. He wants to work for me. He doesn’tunderstand all the words I speak, or accept everything I say. Some of the wordshe does understand he disobeys because he thinks either “she can’treally mean that,” or I don’t care if she means it what I want todo is more important.” Like with God, I don’t know exactly what goesthrough Aggie’s mind because we can’t speak completely unhinderedto each other. The important thing is that I don’t stop trying to communicatewith Aggie and with God.
I’m feeling more confident that I understand God’s messages moreclearly as I am more aware that I might misconstrue something I think He is saying.John 10:3-4 says, “…the sheep listen to his voice. He calls hisown sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, hegoes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” LovingGod is discerning His voice and following Him. It’s like learning a newlanguage and being open to acknowledging mistakes along the way.