This is a guest post by my friend Ibukun, the author of 40 Days Discipleship Devotional – Getting Started in the Christian Faith. He blogs about Faith, Personal development and Career at www.mindandmouth.com. He works as a Project Developer in the Gas Industry, and passionate about helping others achieve their goals in life.
Paul has been doing extensive work on ‘Calling’ and I am one of those patiently waiting for him to share his findings, knowledge and nuggets on ‘The Call’.
If we believe God created us, and He has a plan for our lives, then it is wise to get clear instructions from Him on living that life. However, listening and hearing from God isn’t as easy in this very noisy world and in our very noisy minds. I find that we know what is good, we want to do it, we strive to do it, but it isn’t exactly a science.
It is relationship. It is faith.
September 2009, on a bright Thursday morning, I woke up and dressed up to attend lectures for a graduate teacher training program I enrolled on. ‘Enrolled on’ actually isn’t the right word, ‘about to’ enroll on is more accurate, except for the past 5 months, I was unable to produce the document I needed to complete my enrollment. I could attend lectures because my class was scheduled to enroll the following week. I knew I needed a miracle to cross this hurdle. I just wasn’t aware I’d woken up to the miracle day. As I stepped out of the house into the cold and bright day in London, I heard Him clearly.
‘Don’t go for lectures, go and enroll’
My class isn’t due for enrollment till next week, I thought to myself, but I also knew that when ‘next week’ comes, my chances of enrolling won’t be any better than today. It already looked grim; it’s not likely to change.
Getting on this course was crucial, it was the next step in my career, I would get paid for the next 1 year and almost guaranteed a job thereafter, only if I could enroll.
Listening to God seems easy when it is the only option we have left, but it is better when it is the first option we execute.
Because it simply is the best
So I changed my plans and headed to the enrollment office. The Sunday Service message by the Pastor at the start of the week ended with ‘This week you will see God’ I held on to that as I traveled towards the enrollment hall.
As I got to the hall, looking at all the nationalities present, I wondered what God would look like (that reads who God will use?). Getting to the enrollment desk, I saw him, the man doing his job ‘effectively’ and ensuring my faith in God was very well tested. He welcomed me and reminded me of the pending documents and how it is ‘impossible’ for me to enroll. Have you brought it? He asked. No, I replied. He was surprised because I had the effrontery to show up without any document and still expected something positive.
That is exactly what I did!
But because he wouldn’t believe my stupidity, he called the office, and requested for my file to confirm that I’d not been playing games. At that point, time was running out, the file will be brought and it will be evident to everyone that I was just being plain stupid. I desperately looked for God, starring at people’s faces, and then God spoke, through her.
She sat right in front of me; are you being attended to? She asked. Yes. I responded, pointing to the man on the phone calling for my file. She continued, what is your I.D. Number. I wrote it down U02… and gave it to her. She replied instantly, this is not right. (I am so certain God froze the man on the phone, probably put him on pause). Have you attended this university before? She continued. No I responded. Looking confused, she probed further, have you ever applied to study at this university before?
2002, I was 17 years of age, on the very fast education lane, 2nd year in the University in Nigeria, and about to relocate to the UK. I truly applied to study at this University, and I was accepted, processed the documentation, but eventually went to a different college. I responded and explained the above to her. She turned around to her colleague (the man) and asked; what do you need from him? I was busy staring at her face, looking at the contours and every ridge. The eye lashes, the mascara, I knew this is God.
We already have ‘ALL’ the document we need in the system, you can complete his enrollment! She told him. How did you get it? He asked. She couldn’t answer the question but she showed him her computer screen with ALL my documents.
I sat there thinking, the solution to a problem in 2009 was already created in 2002, 7 years before the problem arose.
What if I didn’t hear God?
What if I didn’t obey?
What if I came here and embarrassed myself?
How can I turn this to an exact science?
Answer to the last question is “No I can’t”.
It is developing a relationship with God and having Faith. (The substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen).
So how does God Speak?
1.) Through His Word – The bible is your sure bet. Eat it (Read, Study and Meditate). Everything you need is in it. In fact, God won’t ask you to do something contrary to His Word. So this helps you confirm every other way that manifests.
2.) Through men of God (i.e. Pastors, Christian leaders). Pastors and Preachers help to break down God’s word into understandable bites. Anything you hear through this means must conform to God’s word.
3.) Through devotionals and Christian texts – I use Word For Today from UCB. God knows you and will meet you at the places you visit, where He can speak to you. But be careful, don’t substitute reading God’s word for reading devotionals.
4.) Family and Friends – While they may not always be right. God chose your family for you (no one had a say in which family they were born into). He will use them to guide you on many occasions, listen to them and evaluate their opinions very well.
5.) Inner Witness – The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are Children of God. There is a sense of agreement and peace that comes with hearing from God regarding anything. It doesn’t mean the event doesn’t carry enormous risk, but you will have peace through the process.
Listening to God to live our lives means we become solution providers, effective leaders and problem solvers (and it doesn’t matter whose problem).
How else have you heard from God regarding a matter in your life?