Oprah is back in the news. After much encouragement to run for president in 2020, she recently told People magazine she prayed about the idea of running for president, saying “God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can’t miss it.”
Well, it seems she got that sign while appearing recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In a spoof segment, a cartoon image of God appeared on the ceiling of the Ed Sullivan theater and said, “Oh yeah. I hear thou seekest a sign? Well, is this clear enough?” Then he pointed to a written sign that read “Run.”
Have you ever wished God would give you a clear sign like this?
Take the job opportunity. Buy the new house. Marry this person. Public school, not private.
I have—on many, many occasions.
I recently told a close friend, as we were praying over a significant change my family was considering, that it shouldn’t be this hard. Whatever the Lord wants us to do, we are fine with it and will wholeheartedly obey—but please just tell us, Lord!
Have you ever told your kids to pray about the Lord’s will in a given situation but wondered if they knew how to discern the voice of the Lord?
I’ve been reading through the Bible this year (let’s just say Numbers about did me in). But I can’t get out of my mind the visual from Numbers 9 with the cloud over the tabernacle.
Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out.
God made it so obvious for them—there was no way to screw this up. If the cloud was over the tabernacle, stay put. When it moved, pack up the camp and follow the cloud. Wouldn’t that be amazing? A cloud directing our steps so we know we’re always on his best path?
Don’t get me wrong. I might veer from the path and hit Chick-fil-A for a Diet Coke on occasion, but, generally speaking, it would be great to have absolute confirmation of where the Lord was leading and that I wasn’t on the wrong road. And to be able to point my kids to the cloud and say, “Follow that.” What a gift.
It’s easy to forget that our God is the same God of the Israelites. He still cares about the details of our lives. He is waiting to speak into every situation and orchestrate the nuances of our lives for his good. He loves our kids more than we do and is anxious to direct our paths in raising them.
So, back to the question at hand: Why does it seem like we are hitting a wall sometimes when we simply want direction from the Lord? There are many things I don’t agree with when it comes to Oprah-ology, but I’m with her on sometimes wishing God would just drop me an undeniable sign.
It has taken me many years to figure this out—I’m a slow study—but if you want to hear from the Lord, you need to have some groundwork in place. Not so that he is able to speak, but more so that you are able to hear.
So, how do we position ourselves to hear God more clearly?
- Be engaged in personal Bible study.
Obvious? Maybe. But it blows my mind how often I feel like the Lord is silent on an issue, and then I realize I haven’t really gone to his word and prayed for him to speak through it into my life.We don’t have to rely on a literal cloud like the Israelites because we have the written word of God in conjunction with the Holy Spirit. His word is living and directs our paths (Hebrews 4:12).Can he speak in other ways outside of the Bible? Absolutely. But when you’re up against the wall and don’t know why you can’t seem to find the Lord’s answer for you, consider how much time you’ve spent studying his word and praying for him to reveal his plan.Challenge your kids to spend time in the word. Ask them what the Lord has revealed to them in Scripture this week. Teach them to live in expectation of hearing a word from God daily.
- Surround yourself with people who hear from the Lord.
Just like we tell our kids that it’s important to surround themselves with good influences, the same holds true for us. We should be very, very careful with whom we council when we are seeking God’s direction in a situation.It’s great to have lots of friends that care about us and want to live life with us. But we need to be very discerning on the “voices” we allow to speak into us when we are seeking God’s direction.Consider: Does this friend pray for you? Do they pray for the Lord’s guidance before offering you advice? Does their life show evidence that the Lord is directing their path (i.e., Do they exhibit fruit)? Do they scripturally support the advice they give?Our kids are so influenced by their peers that it’s downright scary. We need to model good discernment when it comes to allowing others to influence our decisions.
- Be quiet.
We hear this often, but it’s really difficult to receive a word from the Lord when we have noise around us at all times. When you have kids, noise is inevitable. But figure out how to find quiet each day. Be purposefully still and intent on listening to what the Lord has to say.Find ways to make your house “quiet” for your kids. They will likely not do this for themselves and will also struggle to hear from the Lord. Turn off the radio. Shut down the phones. Go for a walk. Just do nothing. I know, this is crazy talk of which I speak.
The voice of God is not in the strong winds, violent earthquakes, or blazing fire, but it comes as a “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12). It sure would be nice if God would give us a sign on the Stephen Colbert show, but that’s fairly unlikely. God’s way is less of dramatic overtures and more of gentle whispers.
Let’s guide our families to live in such a way that we are in the practice of hearing God’s voice amidst the chaos of our daily routines.