One of the most difficult times to hear God’s voice is when we’re in the throes of making a big decision. Shall I take this job, will I marry this person, or will we have children? Each of these decisions have life-changing consequences; they tug at our heartstrings and our emotions are deeply invested in the outcomes. That makes hearing God in these areas particularly fraught with difficulty – to the point where some say you shouldn’t even try to hear from God for them.
We’ve already looked at hearing God’s voice for marriage in episode 29 when we discussed some wisdom for hearing God’s voice for Mr and Mrs Right. But today we’re talking with someone who has heard God speak about two other highly sensitive areas: career and children.
Ps. Lisa Woods is the Senior pastor of Wheatland District Church in north West Victoria, along with her husband Dion. She has worked as a youth pastor, school chaplain in the local secondary school and local member of Yarriambiack Shire council, the youngest councillor to be elected to this position. She is an extraordinary woman of vision and passion who inspires all those around her to flourish. Today she is talking with us about hearing God speak about a job and a baby. I know you will enjoy her and learn from her story!
God’s words have the power to transform lives. Jesus said they are “spirit and they are life” (John 6:63) and that we can’t live without them (Matthew 4:4). Here’s a testimony from our online community that shows how God’s words bring grace and hope to the darkest of circumstances:
I looked around the room and thought I was going crazy. I had heard God’s voice. Was I imagining it?
A few years ago* I went into hiding from my ex-husband who had been threatening to kill my three children and I. My father revealed my location to my him after I denied him contact with our disabled son (who he had been beating). I asked God if he was really there since I couldn’t do it anymore and I needed his help.
The dispute with my father led him to get me charged with attempted arson. Within 17 hours of being taken from my children by the police, I found myself in a women’s correctional facility. I had lost everything – my children, my job, my study – and was about to lose my house. I had not done what my father claimed but he chose to betray me anyway. I was broken. I couldn’t believe what had happened or where I was. Anyone who knows me is astounded by what happened to me – it was surreal. At the time I also developed a medical condition – a form of PTSD – where I struggled to walk and would lose the ability to stand. This occurred most days and I would have to drag my legs around or use a wheelchair.
Some of you have heard the story of how God led me into ministry at a time when I didn’t believe women should be in ministry! As you can imagine it was a interesting journey. Then God asked me to take what I had learned and pass it onto others, and so the ministry of God Conversations for Women was born.
Today I’m very excited to announce the launch of a new teaching resource: God Conversations for Women! In this 4-part CD teaching series we explore God’s heart for the 21st C woman in detail. We talk about the tough questions: why Jesus’ ideals of gender equality didn’t gain traction, the impact of the feminism movement, why some churches today still refuse to ordain women and what gender equality has to do with child marriage and gendercide.
1. Unlikely – My story of how a woman who doesn’t believe in female pastors ends up becoming one – and how God helped me work through the theological issues of my head, as well as the identity issues of my heart.
2. What the Bible Says about Women (and Men) This is a chunky message that aims to bring clarity to a complex and often controversial topic. We may believe in gender equality but why do some place limits of women and what about those unusual verses in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians that seem to contradict God’s heart?
Does God still speak today? I grew up in a church that didn’t believe he does. We were taught that as soon as the last pages of the Bible were written, God stopped talking (known as Cessationist theology). That may sound illogical for some – after all the Bible is full of God-conversations – surely if he spoke then, he would continue to speak now. But there was a good reason for it. People thought that if I claimed to hear God speak today, that would diminish the authority of what he had already said. The Scriptures gave us everything we need, so why would we need to hear anything else?
But then I heard God speak. He spoke prophetically, miraculously and in ways that resembled the way he spoke in the Bible. That left me with a whole lot of questions. How did my experience compare to the experience of the Bible writers? What authority did it have in my life? Is it okay to say ‘God told me’ as they did in the Scriptures? And what about those times when people claim to hear God’s voice, but then it doesn’t happen? These kinds of questions are the subject of my current doctoral study as well as today’s podcast.
I’ve always wanted to hear the audible voice of God. I imagined it booming forth, sending tremors through my body and swallowing me up in a mystical cloud, leaving me with no doubt where it came from. In fact, when I first started learning to hear God’s voice, this is what I expected. But sadly the booming voice never came. Yes, I’ve heard the voice of God many times, but it has never come out loud.
Perhaps you’ve had the same expectation – and perhaps with the same outcome. Part of the reason we expect God to speak out loud is due to the assumptions we bring to the Biblical accounts. We read; “And God said…” and we liken it to a friend talking with us across the table. But a closer look at Scripture reveals this to be a misplaced understanding. Hearing God’s voice should be understood more as a spiritual experience than a physical one.
A Spiritual Voice
When Jesus preached his sermons, he often closed with the line; “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (eg. Mark 4:9,23, Luke 8:8). The reason Jesus spoke in parables was to differentiate between those who had open hearts and those who didn’t. This should indicate to us that hearing God’s message wasn’t primarily a physical experience – after all, his audiences heard his words, yet many still wandered away. As Jesus said; “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13, see also Ezekiel 12:2). Unlike these, we are exhorted to see with the “eyes of our hearts” (Ephesians 1:18) – the emphasis is on our spiritual eyes and ears, not our natural ones.