I was standing in the cashier line, holding the French-press coffee maker I had chosen. Go check out the clearance rack. The thought kept nagging me, despite my attempts to brush it aside. Finally, desperate to regain my inner peace, I hurried over to the clearance area. Sure enough, an identical item to the one I had, but one third of the price, was waiting for me on the shelf.
Was the Holy Spirit behind my buying a cheaper French press? I believe so. God cares about every part of our lives. Amazingly, he is willing to help us with something so minor as a shopping trip. The question is, how attuned are we to his voice?
We know God speaks through the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Jesus compares this divine-to-human communication to sheep listening to their shepherd’s voice. The animals are constantly on the lookout for their master’s words, and they refuse to follow strangers.
God is always planting thoughts into our minds to lead us, but if we aren’t careful, we can easily dismiss them. The key is to distinguish between what’s from God and what isn’t–easier said than done! What criteria can we use? Beyond the basic need to agree with the Bible, there are subtler principles to follow. For example, I once heard Joni Eareckson-Tada say that if we have a sudden urge to help someone, especially when it’s inconvenient, then we can be sure of its divine origin because such impulses don’t come naturally.
This brings us back to the illustration of the shepherd and his sheep. The sheep recognize their shepherd’s voice because they spend all their time with him. They know him well and trust him. They can immediately tell when someone else is speaking.
We can get so busy with life and ministry that we neglect our intimacy with God, and then his voice becomes fuzzy or faint. Hearing our Lord depends on the strength of our bond with him. He wants us to perk up our ears to his words at all times, even when shopping for a French-press coffee maker.
How do you evaluate a thought to determine whether it’s from God?