Last month, I focused on some of the ways God speaks to us and shared a strategy for listening to Him. This month I'm continuing to write about listening to God and focusing on some questions God likes to answer.
What kinds of questions should we ask God? <<Click to Tweet
There seems to be certain kinds of questions. God does not like to answer. Questions like, “Why me?” “When, God, when?” “Why does the other guy always get the breaks?” “What's wrong with me?” “What's wrong with my husband?”
These are the questions of a victim. When we ask them, we are coming from the place of our old man versus our renewed mind of Christ. God doesn't see us as unregenerate victims of our circumstances. He sees us in Christ, in His son, and therefore as victors and overcomers as members of His family. We need to see ourselves the way God sees us. We need to approach the throne of Almighty God as Sons and Daughters.
On any given day, I'm a daughter of The Most High with all the resources of Heaven available to me...but at times I may not be accessing any of those resources because I don’t see myself the way God does. I also don’t see my problems the way God sees them.
Two Key Questions for Hearing from God
I heard a conference speaker, Graham Cooke, explore two questions from Acts 2 we can ask that revolutionize our listening relationship with God. They recharged my pursuit of hearing from God.
- What does this mean? (WDTM)
- What should I do? (WSID)
No matter what type of issue, question, or problem I've had in the last number of years, these two questions are the overlay I've used for getting direction from God.
This is how it works.
Let's apply this Acts 2 strategy to a common problem - a husband whose irritability and outbreaks of anger are becoming common, a friend’s escalating drinking or drug use, a teen’s increasing moodiness, etc. The carnal side of us evaluates the problem. However, we’re actually being judgmental, because only God knows the motivation of our loved one's heart and understands what's really going on. THINKING WE KNOW why a person does what they do creates a huge problem in interpersonal relationships. This evaluation assumes we are all-knowing when we are not. So we intervene, using our own wisdom, and this proves ineffective. We lament, "I've tried everything with my loved one and nothing works." I think God becomes very amused at this point, possibly wondering when we're going to consult with Him, the creative genius who created the universe and each of us and our loved ones.
Let's try our new listening strategy instead. In a conflict like one I described above, we come before The Lord and simply ask: “What does this mean?” With journal in hand, we wait on Him during our quiet time today, tomorrow, and for as many days as it takes. (See Part 4) Graham Cooke says that if The Lord doesn't speak initially, He will speak eventually because He loves to direct our paths if we'd only seriously invite Him in.
A Real-Life Application of The Two Key Questions
To illustrate this premise, I'll share an incident that occurred not too long ago. One morning, right before I left home to go to the office, I checked emails and read something disturbing. The email contained a lie, a powerful manipulation, and a half-truth. Instantly, I became enraged and very confused. It was time to leave for work, so I didn't have time to process. I did restrain myself from firing back a response. As I drove down the street, I asked God, “What does this mean?” I was in the early stages of God's training camp with this so I heard an answer within 5-10 minutes. God showed me the motivation of this person's heart and with that knowledge my anger went completely away.
Once God showed me what was going on with the other person, I asked the second question: “What should I do?” The answer to that came quickly as well. "Do nothing, don't even respond." Instantly my peace was restored and I didn't give it another thought.
Honestly, without the strategy of the Acts 2 questions, I would have ruminated and even obsessed over what that email could possibly mean. What was the writer implying? How on earth should I respond? It would have taken up way too much space in my head and heart, which could be ruinous, as I may have disengaged from more important things in the here and now. These conflicts can be very costly indeed.
I wish I could say that all my WDTM and WSID questions were answered that quickly and my conflicts are resolved that efficiently. I can’t. However I do believe that when God wants us to learn a new Kingdom skill or strategy He usually provides the EASY BUTTON at first. But it doesn't last long. My interpretation of this is that God is saying: “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21) A timely answer encourages me to keep using these Kingdom principles to solve problems.
Truthfully, sometimes I seek The Lord with questions for weeks. How long do I wait? As long as it takes! <<Click to Tweet
What I love about waiting to hear from The Lord in this fashion is that it eradicates any Susanne-esque way of understanding people and problems. If left up to me, my solution will come from my soul and be limited at best, and carnal, fleshly and deceptive at worst.
One last tip on Hearing from God
When we're struggling with the behavior of "others" in our lives, the questions "What does this mean?" and "What should I do?" may apply to us and not them.
For example, the problem may be an angry teen or sullen friend. When we humbly ask, “What does this mean?” The Lord may show us why our loved one is behaving in a particular way or He may direct us to a plan of action for ourselves. Check your expectations here!!! God may intervene and show us what He wants to heal in ourlives. One of the reasons we miss hearing God is because we think He is going to speak to us in a specific way. In fact, He may want to draw our attention elsewhere to show us why we're reacting the waywe're reacting.
When loved ones are acting out and doing destructive things, it is easy to get stuck in the rut of an endless feedback loop trying to figure things out with the resources of our limited finite mind. Once we get out of the way and engage the unlimited Infinite mind of Christ we can work through things with uber understanding, to say the least!
Next month, I will wrap up this series and offer some more ideas about how to hear from God.
Resources on Hearing From God
The Roar: God's Sound in a Raging World
by Bob Hazlett
The Way of the Warrior
– 3-book series by Graham Cooke
How to Listen to God
by Dr. Charles F. Stanley
Can You Hear Me? Tuning Into the God Who Speaks
by Brad Jersak
Children Can You Hear Me? How to Hear and See God
by Brad Jersak
Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website.
EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us.