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How To Know We’re Hearing From God: Part 4

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How To Know We’re Hearing From God: Part 4

This is the fourth of a four part series on How To Know We’re Hearing From God.

As a child I was taught that pastors are divine messengers from God.  My church said when God calls a man to preach he suddenly has a direct line to the Almighty, Who explains the Bible to him, then he tells the flock what God said.  What I wasn’t taught is we all have a direct line to God.  God wants to talk with us, and will make sure we know when we’re hearing from Him or Her, if we are willing to listen

A very personal way God communicates to us is through other people.  Have you ever heard a song on the radio that encouraged you?  Simon and Garfunkel’s song Bridge Over Troubled Waters has that effect on me each time I hear it.  Did you know that’s a way God can speak His or Her love into our hearts?  Many times God nudges someone to help someone else.  We are made in His/Her image to fulfill a special part for the redemption of us all.  God loved us into being, and when we pass that love along to someone else, we are literally the hands, feet and voice of God and have the transformational power to change someone’s life for the better.

My favorite example from my life of how I heard from God through someone else is printed in my book Uncensored Prayer: The Spiritual Practice of Wrestling with God.  Here it is in its entirety:

When I first got sober, my sponsor told me to call her every day.  One morning I got up shaking so badly, I knew I couldn’t go to work, so I called her.  She said, “So, can you take a shower?”  “Of course I can take a shower!” I quavered.  “Go take a shower and call me back.”  Then she hung up.

After my shower, I called her back, and told her I couldn’t face work that day.  “Well, can you get dressed?” she said.  Now she was starting to piss me off.  “Of course I can get dressed!” I said angrily.  “Get dressed, then call me.”  And she slammed the phone down.

Cursing under my breath, I got dressed and called her.  “Are you dressed?” she asked.  I replied, “Yes.  Stop the stupid questions, because I need to talk to you.”  “Call me when you get to work, then we’ll talk.”  I slammed down the phone, and headed to my car.  “I’ll show you I can get to work, you old blank-blank-blank.”

When I sat down at my desk, I called her with shaking hands, saying, “I’m here, but I can’t function.  Are you happy now?”  She said, “What’s the first thing you see in front of you?”  I looked down at my desk and replied, “The mail.”  “Well, open your mail and call me back.”

That’s how she got me through that day.  I couldn’t pray right then, but she was praying for me by what she did.  Later she told me she called this process “The Next Indicated Thing.”  Whenever I felt overwhelmed or panicky, I needed to pause and ask God, “What’s the next indicated thing to do?”

My sponsor said this was a prayer God would answer every time, immediately.  I would see a simple task right in front of me, like opening the mail or taking a shower.  Then my job was to do it.  God would show me an easy task I could do – not busy work, but something that needed doing.  Focusing on one uncomplicated chore took my mind off of feeling overwhelmed, and calmed me down.  It works.  I highly recommend trying it.

Asking “What’s the next indicated thing to do?” was one of the first ways I heard God answer me directly.  I knew it was an answer to my prayer, because one minute I was so overwhelmed I had ceased functioning effectively.  There was too much to do in too little time, and I had too little brain left to deal with it.  Then I prayed and saw, right in front of me, something I was capable of doing that needed to be done that day.  I felt like God was saying, “Do this task for the moment and calm down, then I’ll help you sort out what’s on fire and must be done today, and what can wait until later.”

Doing something was much more effective than doing nothing and stewing over it.  I needed constructive action, not scattered, hurricane action that only left a splintered day and mind in its wake.  God knew exactly what I needed, and gave it when I cried out for help.

Asking for the next indicated thing to do is one of the most practical and effective prayers I’ve ever learned to say when I feel stressed.  And a friend taught me how to do it by pissing me off.

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About the Author:

I never have found a box that fits me, so I follow Jesus into the wild. My husband, Bud, and I are two life-long hippies, parents of four grown children, and live in Bartlett, TN, with six cats, two dogs, and no TV. We are voracious readers and have loaded bookshelves in every room in the house except the kitchen and bathrooms. As a wordsmith, I write in long-hand everyday and use a computer by necessity. I am part of an eclectic group of Jesus-followers called Outlaw Preachers and have a passion for prison ministry. I am also an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression. My musical tastes include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joni Mitchell, old scratchy-record blues, and the great classical sacred choral works. One other thing: dark chocolate and garlic are major food groups, but not together.

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