A few years ago, Leif and I visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. When we checked into a hotel near the historic site, Leif discovered that BMW was hosting a special promotion, inviting people to take one of their new vehicles out for a spin on the Blue Ridge Parkway at no charge. We jumped at the opportunity.
Leif wears a size 14 shoe, but nowhere is his foot heavier than on the gas pedal. He drove through the tangled roads of the parkway at arrestable speeds. As the tires screeched around tight turns, I became grateful for the guardrails, which marked our course and kept us from flying off the edge of the mountain.
Just as metal guardrails help a leadfooted driver stay on the road, spiritual guardrails can help keep us on the path as we hear from God. These spiritual guardrails are questions we can ask ourselves to help us determine whether or not something is from God.
Maybe you’ve been spending time with God. Seeking him. Talking with him. Maybe you logged off during the #WeekofSilence and heard a #SacredEcho. Perhaps you’ve had a dream, heard an internal voice, or felt an impression, but you’ve begun second-guessing.
If you’re not sure whether or not you heard from God, these specific questions can act as guardrails for your spiritual journey:
1. Does what I heard line up with Scripture?
The Bible serves as bedrock, determining whether or not something is from God. If you feel led to do something that goes against the teachings of Jesus or the principles of Scripture, then what you’re hearing isn’t from God.
2. Does what I heard line up with wise counsel?
Look for mentors in your life who can provide wisdom concerning your finances, relationships, marriage, career, and faith. Over the years I’ve discovered that one mentor isn’t enough. God speaks through a community. The person who may have the most wisdom in finances may be less adept in relationships. A marriage guru may not be as helpful when it comes to career choices. Leif and I have a short list of people we call based on the situation we’re facing. All of them share common characteristics: they love God and long to see us grow in the fullness of who God created us to be; they pray for us; and they respond with honesty and grace.
3. Does what I heard leave me with a sense of peace?
In the excitement of hearing from God, you sense a wide range of emotions—surprise, joy, fear, awe, enthusiasm, sadness—that compel you toward a response. But before you act, wait for peace. Called the “Prince of Peace,” Jesus heralded peace in people’s lives. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit and an attribute of God, a gift that acts as a guardrail in our lives, warning us when we’re moving in the wrong direction. Philippians 4:7 promises, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
4. Is what I heard blanketed in love?
Love waters the shoots of humility and places others’ needs above our own. When we shine the light of 1 Corinthians 13 on what we think we’ve heard, we’re better able to discern God’s voice. The nature of God’s voice is that it calls us to maturity in love, nurturing the fruit of the spirit in our lives. If love is protecting our actions and decisions, then we’ll be restrained from making grievous errors.
Like the finest of dark chocolates, God’s words are morsels to be savored.
Whenever God speaks something, we need to hold it in high regard. Keep it near our hearts. Let it roll over in our minds and spirits. The words God speaks to you are sacred and are often meant just for you. We put together a free resource as you navigate prayer and the ways God speaks to us.