I often hear people talk about how God spoke to them, told them to do this or that, and they either did what He said or didn’t. It wasn’t until I did a Bible study called Experiencing God that I even knew how God spoke or that He was speaking to me.
For some people, it is such a foreign concept – God speaking – that they even doubt God’s involvement in our lives on earth at all. I get it. Here we are, living day to day, seemingly on our own, making our own decisions and living the consequences of those decisions.
Experiencing God taught me that God is at work all the time, and it is our perception of His work that shows our relationship with Him. God loves us so much that He couldn’t possibly leave us alone on the earth to fend for ourselves. Yes, we have free will to make our own decisions, so we can choose to follow Him or not. God gave us an amazing part of Himself – Jesus as our example of His love and sacrifice for us. God also gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit. I’ve talked about that nudge in your gut…that intense feeling you get when you have to make an important decision or speak out against something or someone. That nudge is the Holy Spirit, urging you and helping direct you on what to do and how to do it. He is our Teacher, our Help, and our Comforter.
God speaks to us through His Word, prayer, other people, circumstances, and His church. He can show us things in our dreams and in our quiet, meditative time with Him. He directs us when we pray and often, brings people and circumstances to mind when we are praying.
If we are too focused on ourselves, our own desires and constantly looking for what we can get out of life, we miss hearing God’s voice. We don’t give Him an opportunity to be present in our lives so we don’t have a chance to hear Him, much less to listen or be directed by Him.
Years ago, I was the children’s pastor at a prominent church in the heart of Los Angeles. As my husband and I attended a church service in 2008, the pastor spoke about volunteering in various areas of the church. The ushers passed around cards that listed various ministries and programs that the church offered. There were check boxes that you could mark and a place to write down your contact information. As I held the card in my hands, I closed my eyes and silently asked God where I would be most suited to volunteer. I clearly heard, “Kids Ministry.”
It was a shock to my husband when I told him what I heard God say and that I wanted to volunteer in Kids. We had been dating for a few years and had already decided that we didn’t want to have children of our own. After we were married, we still did not feel the urge to have children of our own. Kids ministry seemed really far fetched, as it meant being around KIDS. God obviously knew what He was doing.
After getting involved with Kids Ministry, first as a volunteer, then as a staff member, and eventually as the children’s pastor, I knew why God asked me to serve there. God gave me the chance to be a spiritual mother to not just the children who attended the services, but to the other volunteers in the ministry.
Kids Ministry is made up of families, where parents drop off their kids so they can attend the adult service. Each age group has volunteer teachers who run the classrooms, and the children’s pastor oversees not only what the kids are being taught but the team who is teaching and caring for the kids.
At our particular church, we had an Internship program that included people who were interested in deepening their relationship with God and perhaps pursuing ministry as a vocation. As the children’s pastor for what ended up being 8 years, I had the opportunity to work with around 20 or so Interns, helping shape them into mentors, leaders, teachers, and caregivers to many kids, families, and other Kids ministry volunteers.
In my own deepening relationship with God, I knew that I was not going to be working in Kids ministry for the rest of my life. I knew that God had lead me there for a purpose and that when the time was right, He would show me how to leave that position and who would take my place. As I felt my time coming to a close, I prayed a lot. I spent hours reading His Word and journaling what I felt He was speaking to me.
It was a great feeling when I was nudged by the Holy Spirit and I literally saw the names and faces of who would replace me.
It wasn’t an easy journey. Asking God for clarity and direction doesn’t mean that He gives it to you right away. There is a lot of waiting, a lot of silence, and a lot of listening for His voice.
As I waited to hear from God, I hung on a scripture from Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
I knew He would show me the next steps and looking back now, I clearly see how God opened the door for me to make my exit to other things He has called me to do.
As it turns out, 2 former Interns whom I had mentored in Kids Ministry, now work for the church and lead the ministry. The work that God called me to do in building the foundation of the ministry is now being built upon through the gifts and calling they both bring. The legacy that God instilled in me from my former leader is now being passed on to the people that I had lead. The time and energy that I poured into them is now being poured into others.
It is a great feeling to see the growth and progress in people in whom you have personally invested.
God said for me to first volunteer, then work in Kids ministry, and then to give it to other people He had called to lead. I did just that. I believe what they bring to the Kids ministry now is far greater, far more purposed and even more directed by the Holy Spirit than when I was the leader.
Honestly, that is what leaving any job should feel like. As a voice teacher, I am leaving a legacy for my students that was passed down from my teachers. Perhaps one day the students I work with now will do the same for the future generation.
The LEAP of trusting what God says and making decisions based on the guidance of the Holy Spirit is what hearing from God is all about.
Each of us can have a loving, personal relationship with God. He is there knocking, waiting for us to open the door and experience all He has for us. We just have to take our eyes off of ourselves and focus on Him.
Won’t you take that LEAP?