How Can You Hear God’s Voice? Lessons from the Lake

How many of you want to hear God’s voice? That’s not a trick question. Any believer would give a wholehearted yes! By “hear,” I’m not referring to an audible voice but perhaps peace or clarity in a situation where we feel unsure or fearful. Maybe we’re struggling to see God’s hand or wanting to simply find the reassurance of His presence.

However, before we can hear God’s voice, we must first be prepared to listen. This first step is one we often forget and maybe why we often fail or become frustrated in our conversations with God. We’re too busy doing all the talking or perhaps just plain too busy for God to get a word in.

This summer, my family and I traveled to our family cabin in New Hampshire. One evening while we were kayaking Lake Winona, I broke away from the others who were fishing. There was a restlessness in my soul, and I wanted to talk to God about it. Through that solo kayak trip, I rediscovered some basic prerequisites for hearing God’s voice.

Be still.

As I paddled across the lake, I panted the prayer: Lord, I want to hear from you. Though emotionally I wanted to listen, I physically wasn’t still enough to do so.  My arms moved back and forth, pumping blood through my veins so hard I could barely concentrate on my own thoughts.

Of course, God could hear me. I just couldn’t hear Him. This experience showed me that my constant movement interfered with my ability to listen.

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a NKJV)

Scripture makes clear that stillness is one condition for knowing God. Yet how often do we forget this simple truth?

By nature, I’m a busy person. My husband has even commented that I’m “always moving.” Although in many ways, this ability to hustle is a blessing, I need to take time away from the busy back and forth of life.

I finally glided to a stop on the lake and was content to simply be there. That’s when I could soak in the sunset’s reflection on the water, relish the fresh mountain air around me, and take time to quiet my own thoughts. With my body stilled, I was getting ready to listen.

Unplug.

Next to stillness, we also need a quiet place to prepare our hearts to listen.

Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. (Psalm 4:4b NKJV)

On the lake, I could easily find that undisturbed serenity. However, on a day-to-day basis, we deal with constant “chatter” that makes it hard to meditate on God’s Word and take time for personal reflection.

Back in my parent’s childhood, the only items they had to unplug were things like toasters and power cords. Today, we have to unplug ourselves.

If we actually documented how much time we’re on our Smart Phones, I think the results would shock us. A survey from 2017 documented that millennials spend 223 minutes per day or approximately 3.7 hours on their mobile devices. Based on the upward-trending data from the previous years, that number has probably increased.

Not only are we dealing with a potential time-waster, we’re also dealing with all the distractions and drama that come along with our generation’s need for connectivity.

Yes, smart phones and social media have a purpose. As a writer, I’m keenly aware of the potential and grateful for the way I can connect with readers across time and space. However, the social online sphere can produce so much noise that it drowns out any chance for silence.

Take time to unplug, and don’t make apologies for doing so. A missed text won’t be the end of the world. It will still be there waiting for you to answer later.

Make room.

Clearing the schedule might be easy to do when you’re on vacation, but what about in real life? After all, real life can be messy and disruptive. We can’t predict the emergencies in our lives, and for some people, daily life feels like one crisis after the next.

Jesus was no stranger to crisis. Almost constantly, people were begging him for healing or for their needs to be met. When he wasn’t teaching or performing miracles, he was dealing with the Pharisees’ questions and their accusations.

Matthew 9 records one such busy day. On his way to heal a ruler’s daughter, he made time to heal an ill woman and then met a crowd full of expectations at the ruler’s house. They told him he was too late, and the girl was dead. I love Jesus’ response.

He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.

Did you catch what he told them? “Make room.” The mourners were pressing in from every side and He couldn’t even reach the ruler’s daughter. He had to disperse the crowd first, and then He healed her.

True, you may not have to deal with physical crowds, but you may deal with an overflowing inbox, social media notifications, and text strings longer than the Great Wall. Put those “crowds” outside so you can be alone with Jesus. You then make room to hear Him and watch Him work.

What distractions are pulling at you today, and how can you make room to listen for God’s voice in spite of them?

~ Kristen

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3 Essentials for Race Day Readiness

My first half marathon is less than a week away! After months of following a training schedule and tracking mileage, I am beyond ready to start the actual race and reach that finish line. However, as I look back over my half-marathon training, I see practical lessons that apply to more than just race day. I hope they’ll encourage you in your personal goals and spiritual walk.

#1: Get rest.

The first time I ran 10 miles, I nearly passed out in the grocery store a few hours later. I was waiting behind another customer in the check-out line when a tidal wave of fatigue swept over me. Of course, the gentleman in front of me was writing a check.

Usually, I’m a fairly patient person, but surely one glance my way would tell this dear, sweet man I’m about to pass out if he doesn’t skip the memo line?

Running demands I rest, and I can’t cut corners if I want to stay upright in shopping lines.

The same is true of our spiritual walk. We need rest and quiet time alone with God to recharge. Jesus Himself modeled the example for us, as we see in Mark 1:35.

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed (NKJV).

Jesus intentionally set apart time with His Father, despite all the demands He felt. How much more should we?

#2: Stay hydrated.

My close friends know I have a fear of dehydration. Seriously. At any given time, chances are there’s at least one water bottle in my car’s cup-holder.

Drinking enough water each day is important for anyone, but when we’re training for a physical dare, we have to watch our intake even more carefully. Are we drinking enough water? Are we replenishing electrolytes?

Here’s an even deeper question: Are we spiritually thirsty, and how do we seek to satisfy that thirst? Recently, I read the story of the woman at the well. You’ve probably heard it before. Jesus met a Samaritan woman with a scandalous reputation for failed relationships and offered to satisfy her thirst the way no well and no man could.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14 NKJV)

Only those who believe in Jesus Christ and accept His salvation can experience living water and true refreshment (John 7:38). Without Jesus in our lives, we’ll remain spiritually dehydrated.

#3: Just do it.

I’ve nearly forgotten what sleeping in on a Saturday feels like. Without fail, I set the alarm just as if it were a work day and am running some trail by 7 or 7:30 am.

Getting out of bed early isn’t fun, but I know that to be ready for race day, I have to make the sacrifice. I have to run when I’d rather hit snooze or when my knee aches or even in the eerie pre-dawn darkness under the glow of my street lights. (My overactive imagination tends to imagine Hound of the Baskervilles scenarios. Maybe that’s why my morning runs are usually faster.)

Seriously, though, what has God called you to do? Are you willing to sacrifice to achieve it, or would you rather stay comfortable and complacent? Comfort zones are dangerous places. They present the aura of safety and security, but they can in fact turn into deep graves of wasted time and life.

We have only one life to live. Steward it well, and whatever you do, don’t waste it. 

~ Kristen

Tweetables

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We need rest and quiet time alone with God to recharge. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Adored: Book Giveaway & Review

Each year about this time, I start thinking about a daily devotional book to supplement my Scripture reading. Some of my favorites in the past have included Charles Stanley’s Every Day in His Presence and Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. When people ask me for recommendations, I sometimes hesitate because while I enjoy the ones I read, they might not be the best fit for everyone.

That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to Lindsay A. Franklin’s Adored, a daily devotional intentionally designed for young women (middle or high school age). The short selections for each day touch on issues relevant to today’s teens and offer biblical perspective on common struggles and questions, including:

  • Why should I attend church?
  • How can God’s promises help me weather life’s storms?
  • Does God care when I feel like an outsider and like I don’t belong?
  • How do I deal with bullying?
  • How can I invite God’s guidance into my life?
  • Is it possible to truly know God?
  • Why did God create me this way?

Throughout the daily challenges runs the thread of the reader being God’s adored daughter, someone who is precious in His sight. For young women today who constantly feel the world’s pressuring messages, telling them they’re not “good enough,” this devotional offers the much-needed grounding truth that they are unconditionally loved by and valuable to God.

Each daily reading begins with Scripture and ends with space to jot down notes, thoughts, or a prayer. Though not designed to be an exclusive daily reading, this devotional offers an excellent jump-start to a young woman’s daily quiet time. (Speaking from personal experience, I often need something to help focus my mind where it needs to be before diving deeper into God’s Word.)

A Giveaway for You

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to show a special teenage girl some love than give her something she’ll actually use to help build her relationship with God in the new year? There’s even space in the front of the book for you to personalize the gift.

Today, I’m excited to share a special giveaway opportunity. You can enter to win a copy of Adored! Here’s how:

  • Simply leave a comment below.
  • Share my Facebook post from my author page and tag me.
  • Share the Tweet below.
  • You can do one or all of the above!

I’ll announce the winner at the end of next week’s post, which by the way, you won’t want to miss! My friend and blogger Ashley Jones of BigSisterKnows.com will be sharing tips on how to speak the truth in love.

Take time this week to let a teenager know how much you care and how much God adores her or him.

~ Kristen

Special thanks to The Blythe Daniel Agency for making this book giveaway possible!

 

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