How do I know the difference between my own voice and the voice of God? My heart, my mind, my conscience – I talk to myself a lot. And sometimes I lie. I get nudges and impulses everyday. And sometimes they’re wrong. How do I discern when it’s God speaking to me and when it’s just me?
One way is to know that God’s voice will always challenge your comfort zone.
The voice of the self always leans toward safety and security. That’s our default. The flesh always moves to do and say whatever it takes to protect the self. It’s natural for us – we don’t even think about it. So we assume the voice of God will tell us the same thing. We think God will say to us, “Be safe. Be careful. Protect yourself.”
But that’s not true. You’ve noticed that people in the Bible who hear the voice of God are generally called to move out of their comfort zones. They’re called by God to be risky. Our God never appeared to anybody in the Bible and said, “I am the Lord your God. I am calling you to stay put! Don’t change a thing! You’re good!” No. God’s people are called by God to take bold steps and make even dangerous moves for the Kingdom.
In Acts 21, Paul is on his way to Jerusalem when he and Luke stop in Caesarea to stay a few nights at Philip’s house. One of those nights, a prophet from God shows up and relays a message from the Holy Spirit: Paul is going to be captured in Jerusalem on account of his preaching and turned over to the authorities.
“When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.” ~Acts 21:12
The people interpret the message from God as “Don’t go to Jerusalem.” Stay here. Be safe. Luke says, I was right there with ’em. We begged Paul not to go.
“Then Paul answered, ‘Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, ‘The Lord’s will be done.'” ~Acts 21:13-14
Why would we assume that when God warns you about danger, he’s telling you to avoid it? Paul says, look, I knew what I was doing when I surrendered my life to a Lord who carries a cross. Paul knew that following God’s voice is risky. It’s dangerous.
That is the voice of God pushing you to witness to a co-worker. That is God’s voice challenging you to trust him with your giving. It’s the voice of the Lord calling you to serve people who don’t look like you or talk like you. God’s voice will always challenge your comfort zone.
Think about it. If your great ambition in life is to have a nice house or two and a big bank account and to put off your funeral as long as possible, why do you need to hear from God? You don’t need God to do any of that. If you’re not on a divine quest, why would you need a divine guide?
Do you want to hear God’s plans for you, or do you just want God to endorse your plans?
If you will grow in your eagerness and your capacity to hear God, a whole new life will open up for you. A life of adventure. A full life behind the leading of God’s Spirit. An exciting relationship with the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The life you were meant by him to always live.