When you're trying to faithfully make a decision, any decision, one of the things that you must first do is listen to God. That's a challenge for some of us who have trouble hearing Him, who maybe haven't heard Him speak in our lives or don't know what His voice sounds like. But it's not so difficult, really; it's about listening to those little nudges in your soul and learning to trust them.
This is true whether that nudge is positive or negative, whether it agrees with what you want to do (it often doesn't) or it doesn't. You can really save yourself a lot of trouble this way. Or perhaps wander into something completely amazing.
Recently, I was presented with a job opportunity. It's an opportunity that in any other season, I would have jumped it. It still excited something inside me, although I recognized it wasn't as exciting as it once seemed. I prayed about it, of course (though if we're being honest, most of my prayer was, "Please, Lord"), but there was this nagging in my spirit that told me not to send the resume. That this job wouldn't be good for me. That it wasn't what God wanted. So I sat the resume aside, and I felt good about things.
But...I didn't delete the email with the offering. So when I saw it again, it wasn't new, and I didn't stop to consider it in the same way as I had the first time. And, I sent the resume. I didn't get the job. I didn't even get an interview. I barely got an acknowledgement that I existed. And I had to feel the rejection and process the grief when, the truth is, I didn't even actually want that job any more. Five Years Ago Me wanted it, but today me didn't, and I set myself up for a whole lot of failure and heavy things I shouldn't have had to carry if I had just listened to the voice of God in the first place and trusted Him.
Here's another example, to the other direction. This past weekend, I was in the local grocery store. A month or so ago after a friend located a product I had been searching for but never found, she sent me a photo of a juice that her kid loves, but hadn't been in stock for several weeks. She said, "Hey, if you ever find this juice, grab it!" So I agreed.
This weekend, I didn't go down the juice aisle. It wasn't on my shopping list. But I always check out the clearance selection, and this week, the clearance selection was filled with the same brand of juice that my friend was looking for, but a different flavor. I mean at least three dozen gallons of the stuff. And a little voice whispered in my head, "You should go check out the juice aisle."
I didn't go right away. But the voice kept nagging me. So right at the end of my trip, just before heading to the checkout, I made a quick run through the juice aisle and, wouldn't you know it? They had two jugs of my friend's juice. I texted and called her and stood there guarding these two jugs like precious jewels and she finally responded, "Oh my gosh, yes!" So I picked them up for her.
I didn't have to go to the juice aisle. I could have ignored the whispers and the signs. I could have pretended I didn't notice. I could have said I didn't have the time. It was an inconvenience. But I got the incredible chance to be a blessing to a young child who, upon seeing the juice at church the next day, just started giggling like crazy. I could have missed that...if I hadn't listened to the voice of God telling me to go ahead and check the juice aisle.
The point is this - part of living the faithful life and making the faithful decision is learning to listen to these little whispers that are, in fact, God. Learning to let them lead us. Learning to go where they are guiding us. Learning to do the hard things they are asking of us, whether it's closing a door or embracing a mild inconvenience. Whatever it is. We can save ourselves a lot of heartache and invite into our lives a thousand giggles, but we have to learn to listen. And obey.
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