Every circumstance in our lives comes with a built-in success factor. The difference maker in anything we face is the voice we listen to. There are always 3 voices speaking, and being able to identify them is crucial, if we’re going to choose the right one.
What are those voices? The voice of the enemy, our accuser and the great deceiver, is one of them. His voice always comes with an ulterior motive of destruction. Scripture is clear that he has one of three aims in all of his dealings with us: steal, kill, and/or destroy [John 10:10]. And since he is a deceiver, he is masterful at disguising his voice to sound common and unassuming. He is good at sounding just like the normal, everyday world around us. The problem with this is that the world around us is ruled by him.
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4
So, the more we agree with what the world around us says, the greater the danger that we will fall prey to its lusts, temptations, and deceptions. And the greater the likelihood that we will suffer the consequences of the same. What are the consequences of listening to the voice of our world/current culture? I see them every day in the lives of many women, young and old alike, and it breaks my heart: confusion, depression, anxiety, fear, feeling stuck, being tossed back and forth between the reality they know they should be living, and the reality they keep somehow settling for. This is not the life God created us for.
Another voice we tend to listen to is our own, which – as mentioned above – is often easily and heavily influenced by the world around us. Dangerous. Our own voice is also heavily influenced by our life experiences, which always carry two messages: one which is truth, and the other a lie. If we are not careful, and we lean on our own understanding (which is natural to fallen humanity), we will find ourselves trusting our own opinions and thoughts about our circumstances, without realizing that those thoughts and opinions are loaded with pre-formed beliefs which – more than likely – are not rooted in actual truth. This inevitably also leads to confusion, disappointment, disillusionment, depression, anxiety, fear, feeling stuck, being tossed back and forth, and finding ourselves deep in messes and cycles which are difficult and painful to get out of. This is probably why Scripture warns us against the route of trusting our own voice:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
This verse also reveals the key, the difference maker built into all of our circumstances: listening to what God says. Daily, and many times each day, I can choose to listen to my own direction or opinions – which will usually err on the side of ignorance or flat out deception, and cause me to either pull back or turn astray. A good example is my call to motherhood and homeschooling. If I let my emotions and opinions lead, I would quit every day, because every day I feel incompetent, and very much like I fail more than I succeed. But God says and feels otherwise. How do I know? Because I take the time to sit with Him and listen.
Instead of just swallowing what I think and digesting it, I take my thoughts and feelings to Jesus, and I give Him room to speak into the reality I know. I entrust Him with the task of sorting through what I think and what I feel – throwing out anything which doesn’t agree with His thoughts and feelings, and preserving and reinforcing whatever does. Most days, and with most circumstances, I find that I need quite a bit of adjustment in my thinking. My voice is usually wrong, and most definitely detrimental to my success and well-being.
At first, that was hard for me to swallow. It hurt my pride, and threatened the independence I had worked hard to build. But it didn’t take much more than an honest look at the messes my own way had led me into, to be able to admit that I actually really needed God’s help in leading my life. Now, many years later, depending on God and trading my thoughts for His is one of my greatest delights. And it comes with the richest rewards. He has built for me a life I can be proud of, and a life that enriches others – especially those of my own household.
Dear Woman of Breakthrough, what are you struggling with today? I encourage you to take it into the presence of God and spend a few minutes there. Tell Him how you feel and what you think (chances are that you may not even know how you feel and what you think, because leaning on your own understanding has become so natural to you…not to worry, He can help you figure that out!). Then give God the opportunity to share how He feels and what He thinks. I know you’ll be surprised by what He has to say! He loves you madly, and has invested all of Himself in leading you out of darkness and into His light. That journey begins with hearing and trusting His voice.
Don’t worry if you’re afraid He won’t speak to you, or that you can’t hear Him speak. He is always speaking!
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
We just have to practice listening, and become familiar with His voice and His ways. That comes with time, and it comes with guaranteed success. Remember, He is a faithful shepherd who leads His sheep (us) through valleys so deep and dark that we can only make it through by trusting in Him. How I pray that you will begin today to seek His voice, and grow in the confidence which comes with every word He speaks. It truly is the difference maker!