YIKES! Let Me Rephrase That …

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way. Walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21

I probably had that verse of Scripture in mind when I was writing the prologue to my book on prayer, BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?) I was telling a story about a time in my life when I was praying for something I had been requesting for years, with the same seemingly nonexistent answer. I finally cried out to the Lord in my frustration, and I believe He spoke to me very clearly. Unfortunately, the words I used were, “When God speaks to you, you just know it.”

It has occurred to me in recent days that this sentence could be taken several ways, and one of them could result in a gross misunderstanding of God’s voice, with disastrous consequences.

In the context of the story, the sentences following explain that we can “hear” God’s voice in our hearts, as opposed to hearing an audible voice or seeing writing in the sky. That we “just know it” is meant to contrast with the obvious, visible, audible types of voices.

Another way to interpret the statement is that the Lord does speak to His children, and He doesn’t need a megaphone or billboard to do it. He speaks to us through His Word (the Bible), through circumstances, through His creation, and through other people, whether in person, preaching on the radio, or through their writings. God knows each of us intimately, and if He wants to communicate something to one of us, He knows exactly how to make it clear to us. He will see to it that we know He’s speaking and what He is saying. (We are without excuse.)

Either of those interpretations, or both, would be acceptable to me.

The message I do not want my readers to get out of that statement is that any time we hear a “still, small voice,” we can be sure it’s God. I have had times when that kind of “voice” is from the enemy, from the culture, or just my overactive imagination. I cringe at the thought that copies of this book are scattered all over the country, and in other countries (I’m guessing there are more copies of it in Uganda or India than there are in Kentucky right now.), and that anyone might draw the wrong conclusion from the statement I wrote so glibly. Of course, God is in control, and as I pray He won’t let the enemy hijack any of my words – spoken, written, sung, or prayed, past, present, or future – I trust He won’t let that happen. Still, the enemy of my soul (and my sleep) reminds me of atrocities that have been committed by people claiming, “God told me to do it,” and if I take my eyes off the Lord, my imagination can torment me with horrific scenarios that I might have a part in with my careless words.

SO. For the record, please note (especially if you have BARRIERS and have read it, are reading it, or intend to read it): To “hear God’s voice,” we need to know Him. We need to know His Word, so we can “test the spirits” (I John 4:1), because God will never contradict His Word in a “special,” personal message. As I later said in that same prologue, the better we know the Lord, the easier it is to discern His voice.

I have learned a great deal since I first published BARRIERS, and I hope to publish a new edition of the book soon, with a few typos corrected and chapters added. Regarding this prologue, I intend to change that sentence to read instead:

“Sometimes when God speaks to you, you just know it; this was one of those times.” (If any of you have a better idea, I am open to suggestions.)

Meanwhile, I’m praying that whoever reads this prologue will go on to read the rest of the book for full context, and that we will all seek the Lord – not a mystical experience for its own sake, but to truly hear God’s voice, and having heard, to obey His will.

Prayer: Lord, as writers we can struggle to put into words what You have taught us and what You have done for us. Thank You for understanding that we are imperfect, flawed people, serving a perfect God. It amazes me that You can take our feeble efforts and use them to advance Your kingdom. For this great privilege we thank You, in Jesus’ name. Amen

38 thoughts on “YIKES! Let Me Rephrase That …

  1. I think those with discernment will understand your meaning. The one seeking to have their ears tickled will hear what he or she wants. I believe God knows the good intents of your heart in writing your book and will see to it that your readers get the right message (which Iagree with).

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Hearing God speak can be a difficult thing to explain. My own thinking about it has changed over time. I even deleted one of my old posts that talked about “the still, small voice”. Now with so much New Age thought creeping into “Christian” teaching and books, I am even more cautious about what I believe and teach. I commend you for writing about this today. And to your prayer, I say, AMEN!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Now I am even more interested in your book! I remind myself often that I sound like me, the enemy sounds like me and the Holy Spirit sounds like me. So true that as we know God more and more we know His character and His voice. I am so thankful for you, Annie! I appreciate your honesty, reflections and desire to both evangelize and disciple!!! Lots of love, hugs and blessings!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Mandy, you bless me so much! And YES, those “still, small voices” all sound like us in our heads! (The only times I’ve heard an audible voice – twice in 70 years – I thought it was my husband!) Have a blessed weekend, sweetie! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Not to minimize your concern, but I’ve noticed that people will interpret anything and everything one says based on the condition of their hearts. You can be most careful and word things exactly right every time and those who only need an excuse to do the evil that is in their hearts, will take it the way they choose to take it. Personally, I can say that what you said is correct. When God speaks to me, I know it. And honestly, it’s usually not a still, small voice. πŸ™‚

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  5. No confusion for me in the first version, Annie, but that may because I know you and your theology well enough (even though we’ve only met digitally, as it were) to discern what you mean from what you might be misunderstood to mean. Still, always good to clarify. Blessings.

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  6. Annie, I appreciate your concern and the desire for no one to misunderstand what you wrote. Like the others have commented, sometimes people will choose to interpret something depending on the condition of their hearts and we cannot do anything about it. When a person sincerely desires to hear God’s voice, it can never be done right separated from drawing close to him and knowing him. What you write under the obedience of the spirit remains under the Spirit to lead, guide convict and teach. Even scripture is taken out of context and used to suit one’s preferred understanding of it. That is God’s word, how can we assume ours will not be subject to being misunderstood. Whenever you stress about it take it to God and leave it with him. He is in the job of changing hearts, sanctifying and doing the work.

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  7. Annie, you’re not the first or the last author to rethink and edit earlier writing. I understood what you meant in the original version, and I had no confusion. Yet I like the new change you’ve come up with. Blessings. I pray there is a plentiful harvest from the fruit of your labors.

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  8. I think you did great, I had no confusion over those words.

    It can be really scary writing and speaking about the Lord. I’m pretty fearless about most things, but I really don’t ever want to misrepresent Him. It’s good to be worried about that, keeps us on our toes! LOL, but the Lord has also made known to me my own savior spirit and the way I falsely assume I have more power and influence then I actually do. People’s faith does not depend exclusively on me saying the right word or speaking up at the right moment. I myself come from where The Word was either not preached or distorted and mocked and yet here we are today! The Lord will have who He will have, despite the best efforts of humans to make a mess of things.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Gabrielle, that is so reassuring, especially since you have read the book.
      “My own savior spirit” … I’ve never heard that phrase before, but I knew the moment I read it exactly what you meant. We do have that voice don’t we? I think the red flag is when the focus is on “me” instead of on the Lord. 🀨

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  9. Actually, the phrase: β€œSometimes when God speaks to you, you just know it; this was one of those times.” is perfectly worded because some of us can validate that that statement is indeed truthful.

    You did say “Sometimes”, which means it’s not always the case. It’s been said there are 3 voices we hear – God’s Spirit, our own spirit & the devil’s/world’s spirit.

    I know it happened to me at least once where I knew beyond any doubt that the Lord imparted comforting words into to my heart. It was during a very, very dark time in life when my daughter was committed to a mental hospital. Yes, I did write that. You know, people are ashamed to write things like that these days.

    Anyway, after praying & fasting many days and asking for an answer, these words were spoken into my spirit:

    “I see. That is all you need to know”.

    Yes, that was what I needed to hear and what I needed to know at that time. I am not that wise to say or think of such words, and the devil is for that matter, not either. So I knew it was from the Lord. Period.

    Sorry & I really apologize for such a long diatribe here. But rest assured, Anne, your statement has merit and is truthful when God touches you in profound ways.

    Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No apology necessary, M to M! The situation I was describing in the book was, in fact, very similar to yours, having to do with my love for my daughter. And like you, I knew it was God because 1.) it was an answer I was not expecting, 2.) it made perfect sense, logically and biblically, and 3.) it was much shorter and to-the-point than anything I would have come up with! πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I personally would have said, ” … you just know it’s Him….” I also agree, people hear/read what they want to hear/read no matter how you say/write it. Don’t lose any sleep over it. You’re fine.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Ann, I appreciate your humility. I can understand how people could misinterpret that sentence; on the other hand, I doubt that believers would, given the context. At the same time, it’s good to rephrase it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The “still, small voice of God” for me has been more like an impression upon my spirit. There’s no audible voice; God speaks through my thoughts. I can tell it’s Him, because what I’m sensing seems from beyond me. And as you’ve mentioned, it always agrees with scripture. Not a perfect explanation by any means–spiritual experiences are difficult to describe!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the humility reflected in your sharing, Annie. Our Father is so proud of you! The verse that comes to mind as I think about what you’ve shared here is this: “Anyone who belongs to God will listen to his message. But you refuse to listen, because you don’t belong to God,” from John 8:47. Anyone who really wants to hear God, will. I agree with everyone who said that people will interpret what they read out of the condition of their hearts, which is not on you. If their heart is towards God, not refusing Him, they are going to hear/perceive/imbibe the truth correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

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