Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So, How Do You Know, Part 2

This is the continuation of Part 1:


And so our homeschooling journey began, but not with a joyful heart, I must confess!  I really wasn’t excited about homeschooling.  I’ve learned through experience that it’s not good to obey God simply because you’re afraid of the consequences of disobedience, but that is how our journey began.


As much as I’d like to report that our homeschooling journey was all peachy and grand, it wasn’t at first.  Homeschooling was hard work that required much patience, perseverance, flexibility, and prayer.  Our first week of homeschooling made me want to throw in the towel, and I was previously a public school teacher, which is probably why I wanted to never homeschool and why I got so frustrated when things didn’t go the way I had planned!  The first day of homeschooling, our youngest son (age 2 at the time) tore all of the wallpaper off of his bedroom wall during his nap time.  Out of desperation, I called our local Mother’s Day Out program for this particular child, but I quickly realized that would be disobedience as well because I knew God wanted me to have all of my children home with me. 


While it took all of us time to adjust to our new normal back in 2002, God started to reveal blessings to us.  Blessings I never imagined would come out of homeschooling.  One of the biggest blessings was that our children became best friends.  I LOVED that and never even considered that was something God had in mind when He called us to homeschool. 


Relationship building was one of the biggest and best blessings that came from our homeschooling.  Each of our relationships with God grew more intimate, as well as our relationships with one another.  Learning together, laughing together, studying together, praying together, playing together, cooking together, eating together, discovering together, and sometimes even crying together—it was all what God had in store for us.  He impressed upon me that He created me to serve my family, that was His calling upon my life during that season.  He didn’t want me volunteering countless hours elsewhere, which often times caused me to deny my family.  He wanted me to put family first (next to God), in all areas of my life.


God never promised easy, but He did promise to never forsake us.  As we navigated the homeschooling waters, He proved Himself faithful.  He was always by our side, helping us, guiding us, teaching us, and loving us.  After a while, I absolutely couldn’t imagine life any other way.  Homeschooling eventually became something I loved and treasured.  God circumcised my heart greatly during this season, and for that, I am forever grateful.


I shared this story to illustrate some of the ways God might speak to us, to show us His calling in our lives.  The callings may change with His seasons for our lives, but His presence is ever present.  Always.  He never leaves us or forsakes us.  Where He calls us, He will equip us to serve.  He’s really fabulous at taking ordinary people and equipping them to do extraordinary tasks, which is what really gives Him the glory.  When we know that we know that we know that we know that there’s just no possible way that we could do something on our own, yet He enables us to do it (although sometimes it’s not pretty!), He is able to be given ALL of the glory.  We don’t try to steal any of the glory for ourselves because we know without a doubt that it was ALL Him!


One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I hear God best when I’m in His Word regularly.  For me, time with Him is essential.  Time spent in prayer, time spent studying His Word, time spent worshiping and praising Him, quality time spent regularly with Him.  Without time with Him, I’m unable to have the intimate relationship with our Father that I desperately need.  When my time with Him is weak, I cannot hear His voice as clearly, so for me, time is key.


I’ve also found that God doesn’t always beat me over the head when He wants me to do something, like He did when He wanted me to homeschool.  That particular calling involved lots of over-the-top messages from God to get me to obey.  He spoke to me in my dreams, He spoke to me through the study of His Word, He spoke to me through other people, He spoke to me through circumstances, and He spoke to me in my thoughts—gosh, He even gave me a real, live sign (the transparency on the overhead projector during the homeschool conference).


Regardless of how extroverted God is with His various callings in our lives, He always makes His way known.  It just might take a little time to decipher, to listen, to receive confirmation, and to obey.  Here are a few of the ways He speaks to me to help me to decipher His will:

  • He will close doors that I thought He had opened—or He’ll open doors I thought He had closed. 
  • He’ll put crazy ideas into my head that don’t come from me.  Many times these ideas are things I really don’t want to do (due to my laziness or fear or whatever excuse I can think of), which helps me to know the thought must be from Him. :-)  Often times the ideas pop up during my quiet time with Him, but just as often, the ideas pop up at random times throughout the day when I’m not thinking or praying about that specific idea.
  • He’ll lead me down various paths during Bible study that reveals His plan to me.
  • He’ll whisper things to my spirit while I’m praying—a feeling that I know He wants me to do something.  Then He seems to continue to swirl that thought in my head often, until I act upon it.
  • Sometimes I’ll have a dream about something that affects my spirit deeply.  Then, during my waking hours, I cannot get the thought out of my head, often times for days and weeks and sometimes even months—until I act upon whatever it is He wants.
  • Sometimes God gives me visions (visions occur when I’m awake, similar to a dream, but I’m totally awake) where He’ll put an idea into my head that occurs in a split second with such intricate detail that it would take me a day to explain it to someone else.  It seems so very realistic, like I know the ins and outs of whatever it is He’s planted in this vision.
  • Sometimes God will use someone else to confirm an idea that He’s already put into my thoughts or spoken to my spirit.  Often times this occurs randomly, as was the case when our son asked me if I’d homeschool him, completely out of the blue.
  • Sometimes God speaks to me during a sermon, or He’ll confirm something I’ve been praying about while I’m listening to a sermon.
  • Many times God will lead me to a story or a simple scripture in His Word that relates to what I’m facing, as confirmation that this is indeed what He’s leading me to, which gives me more faith to obey.
  • And sometimes God will give me a word—something that I don’t know the details about, but a simple word (or phrase) that sticks in my head.  Then I’ll see that word in a magazine, on a billboard, in a doctor’s office, in a store, and God will lead me to understand more about what it is that He’s asking of me, or speaking to me, regarding this word.  Often times that word eventually becomes a part of our testimony as God weaves all the details together as He makes that word active in our lives.


Regardless of how He speaks to me, I always pray about whatever it is that I feel God is asking of me.  Many times I’ll ask my husband or a friend (or both) to pray for me regarding whatever issue I’m seeking clarity on.  I’ll seek wise godly counsel if I feel the issue is bigger than I can handle with just me and God.  I’ll search scriptures, asking God to confirm or deny whatever it is I feel He’s leading me to do.  I’ll pray for wisdom specific to the issue at hand, as He promises in the book of James that He will give us wisdom, and He tells us to ask boldly.  More often than not, God will give me clarity and the strength to obey whatever it is He’s asking of me, regardless of the reasoning my flesh is so prone to. 


Always, always, always, I hear God most clearly when I spend the most time with Him.  Always.  The more intimate our relationship, the better our communication, the more clearly I hear Him.  Time is the key to intimacy for me.  I must spend regular quality time with God to have the intimacy we both desire.  This makes everything so much easier.  Always.


How about you?  Do you have a story to share regarding how you know what God’s will is or what His call is upon your life?  Do you have suggestions and/or advice for us?  We’d love to hear it.

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