What happens when we get it wrong? Many of us have a concern when it comes to hearing God’s Voice because we have a fear of getting it wrong. Allow me remind you of how you learned to hear your parents’ voice when you learned to speak. You heard the words they said over and over and then you started mimicking them. Sometimes when you mimicked it made them laugh because you didn’t say the words correctly, or you mixed up words in your eagerness to talk. Did that put you off attempting to speak? The simple answer is “No”, because you were not worried about making mistakes. The reason you learned to hear your parents’ voice and imitate them in your attempts to speak successfully was because your pride didn’t get in the way.
When we learned to speak by imitating our parents we simply spoke what we heard and when our parents needed to, they corrected us. We did not wait to speak our first word or sentence until we had it perfect. If we waited until we had the sentence perfect before we spoke, we wouldn’t open our mouths and say anything. If we did that we would not learn to read and write. The process of learning to speak another language is a matter of being willing to make mistakes. When you learn another language, you have to put your fear of making mistakes behind you and be willing to let your mistakes teach you, just like you did with your own language when you were a child. I would often in the context of learning a new language deliberately try constructions out to see if you could say it that way. At times suspecting that it was wrong but trying it anyway just to test it. But many of us are more concerned about our mistakes than learning to speak or hear and understand those speaking to us in another language. It cripples us to the point we are immobilized to learn the language effectively.
We all have stories of when we thought we knew for sure God’s will for us at a particular time only to find out we were wrong. Let me illustrate by another Ian story. There was a time back at the beginning of my “walk with Him” when as Christian teachers at Matamata College we were seeking God for His will for what to do for the school context for the Lord in the weeks ahead. I won’t go into great detail, the specifics are not important. We fasted and prayed for a fortnight and then met together to see what God had told us all. I was excited about it because I just knew that God was going to do something amazing. I had the sense that when we all came together all of our senses / contributions would make up a united whole and we would have the sense that God had put this all together.
During the fortnight it was like God was showing me things in His Word. Giving me verses that linked up. Speaking to me in other ways through things that came “across my path”. It was all coming together in amazing ways. The way things dovetailed together from my Quiet Time, books I was reading separate from what I was praying with the Christian teachers for school was incredible. Everything was lining up. A programme I watched on TV, an article I read, verses I read in the bible. Everything was coming together. I couldn’t wait until we all shared together on the appointed day to see how it all flowed and how each had a part of the puzzle. I was sure that God was leading me and so He must be leading the others too. I couldn’t wait for the unveiling of His plan. This was all so exciting. During that two-week period I had taken careful notes of all God had shown me.
When we came together the chairperson asked, “Who wants to share what they have first?” No one else made a move so I said I would go first. I told them all what I felt God had told me. I was expectantly waiting to see how it all came together with what everyone else shared. The second person shared something totally different. The third person shared something similar to the second person. Likewise the fourth person and so it continued until everyone had shared. It was apparent that the others were somewhat similar and their ideas dovetailed together. My input was distinctly different. I was so disappointed. How could that be? God had showed me things. God had brought the thoughts to me, at least I had thought so. It had all happened so amazing well. But I was oh so wrong. Could it be that they were all wrong and I was right? No, in my mind I believed that God would work in unity, in unified thought. I was the one who was out of sync, not them. We had all been eager to see how God had spoken through us all. Yet I was the odd man out. If anyone was at a tangent to the group, it was me! I remember trudging my way home “with my tail between my legs”.
That night as I took the Bible (my first huge NASB version) and dared to read it again, God used some verses from Deuteronomy 8, the passage where I was reading in my systematic reading of the Bible for the year, to speak to my heart. It staggered me.
These are the verses that struck me in reading Deuteronomy Chapter 8, with the parts in bold that God quickened to my heart:-
Deut 8:2 “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years [two weeks], that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Deut 8:3 “He humbled you . . . that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
Deut 8:5 “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.
Deut 8:14 then your heart will become proud . . .
Deut 8:17 “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’
It was like God was speaking to my heart and embolding verses to me off the page. Following that I turned to my New Testament reading in Luke 1. The first words I read were:
Luke 1:51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
Luke 1:52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.
God burned this principle on my heart. I had become proud of the way that God was leading me. It was like God led me astray in order to reveal to me that which was within. Those verses are seared on my heart, spirit, being – somewhere, everywhere. Engraved on the tablets of my heart. I haven’t thought of this leading for years but putting this Nugget together this morning these verses come flooding back and I knew exactly which verses they were and went straight to the references.
God is more concerned with what is happening on the inside than He is concerned for what is happening on the outside.
Yes hearing God’s voice at times is a mystery, but let Him be the one to work it out and bring revelation. DON’T GET PROUD.
“Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (Berean Study Bible)
God has many ways of teaching us, including when we get it wrong. Just trust Him to speak to you and believe that even when you get it wrong, He will use all the ways we are led to ensure we ultimately know what His Voice sounds like. It is of benefit to make mistakes in discerning God’s voice because after we made those mistakes we are that much more careful in the way we approach Him. That is a good lesson to learn.
Maintain your humility and keep your heart teachable before God.
In the following Nuggets I will share several of our stories of where we got it wrong, or the occasions where our sense of God’s leading became cloudy or confused. I used to tell students at Matamata College that we can learn more from the mistakes we make than from the times when we get it right. I believe in my walk with Christ, it is the times when I have gone astray or misunderstood His leading which have been the most impactful on me long term. Sometimes to truly understand something, it is good to know what it is not in order to hone our definition or sense of what it is. That is certainly true when it comes to being led by God and learning to discern His voice.