Some of us, when we decide to start listening to the voice of God in our lives, discover fairly quickly that we don't know how to do that. We are a people who are very skilled at convincing ourselves of what God wants in our lives, only to discover that He never did, and this makes us nervous about believing anything we think we hear.
Did God really say that? Or is that our inner voice? Or the voice of someone else in our lives? Or maybe the voice of "reason"?
The trick to this, from a perspective of what the world calls wisdom, is to hedge our bets and simply conclude that "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." This is a problem, though, when it comes to living by faith because we know that God is good. And so trying to tack this worldly "wisdom" on to our faith journey often leads us to conclude that if something seems good, it cannot possibly be what God wants for us.
This is probably the number one reason why so many of us miss out on the amazing, incredible things that God really has for us - because we've bought the lie that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. God's goodness sounds too good, so it's probably not true. And if God's goodness is probably not true, then God Himself is probably not real and all of a sudden, we're not just missing out on the amazing, incredible things that God really has for us, but we're also ready to turn away from God completely.
But the opposite doesn't really work, either - we cannot simply say that because something sounds good, it must be God. That the goodness of something determines whether or not it's what He wants for us. Because the truth is that we often think that all kinds of things are good that turn out not to be good at all, and our selfish nature will lead us to want things that we shouldn't want and to convince ourselves that they are good. And if we can convince ourselves that they are good, then we can just as easily convince ourselves that they are God's will, and then we lead ourselves astray (and blame Him for it when things don't work out).
This is why it is so important that we figure out how to discern the voice of God in our lives. It's not just the goodness of our lives that is at stake; it is our faith itself. That is true for a lot of errors that we could make in this venture.
So how, then, do we determine the voice of God?
A good place to start is to figure out what the answer you think you're hearing satisfies. Does it satisfy your immediate needs? Your primary considerations? Your biggest questions? Or does it satisfy your soul?
Does it feel like you're "settling" for the best available option? If you ever feel like you're settling, then it's not the voice of God calling you there. I promise.
And then, it really comes down to whether this voice - and the decision it's inviting you to make - bring you peace. When you make a decision in a Godward direction, there's this confident assurance that just settles over your soul and lets you know that this is "right." It just feels right.
Now, that doesn't mean that you don't still have questions. This is where a lot of us get confused. We think that if we are confident in what God desires for us, that settles the whole thing, but often, there are still questions. What you can recognize, though, if you're listening well to God and to yourself, is that when you've made a faithful decision and chosen in a Godward direction, the questions shift. Sometimes, it's really subtle how they shift, but they shift and the questions you're facing aren't the ones you've just answered any more. The answer itself becomes the foundation for the new questions, and you aren't considering that choice any more; it becomes a given.
It's all a quiet process. Really, it is. It can feel loud, especially when our souls and our lives are in turmoil, the but process of listening to God and making a faithful decision is almost unsettlingly quiet. If it's not, then I dare say that your flesh is still getting in the way a bit too much.