During a Sunday night Bible study, those of us who grew up in church were talking about listening to God. Suddenly Reyhaneh, who’d recently become a Christian, burst out, “But how do I know it’s God?” She waved her hands, exasperated, “How do I know it isn’t Satan? Or me? Or the world?” I’d asked those questions years before. But I couldn’t remember how I’d moved from that anxious, confused place into this confidence that I could recognize God’s voice in my heart.
The people celebrating the Festival of Booths are trying to decide if Jesus is a good man or a deceiver (v. 13). Then they hear him teach, and their confusion deepens. They know he hasn’t received formal training from their rabbis, so where does his learning come from? From God? From Satan? Jesus answers, “Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own” (v. 16). Which sounds a lot like intuition, or a secret handshake only known to those who already know. I can almost hear Rey getting frustrated: “But how will I know that?”
Thankfully, Jesus says that our desire to hear God develops our capacity to do so. God seeks ongoing conversation with us, and over time we learn more about who we are talking to. Samuel doesn’t recognize God’s voice the first time God calls out to him. But as he continually commits his life to God, he learns more about the one who knows his heart. David discovers the same. As we keep resolving to listen and follow, our assurance grows.
How has your confidence in knowing God grown over the years?
God, increase our resolve to listen for you and follow your path. Amen.