When You’re Stuck And Don’t Know What To Do, Here Are 7 Ways To Hear Direction From God

When You’re Stuck And Don’t Know What To Do, Here Are 7 Ways To Hear Direction From God

Because sometimes it's hard to tell what's from the Spirit and what's from our inner selves.

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Back in June, I attended the Cross Style conference in Tennessee with a few friends. We rented a cabin, made new friends, learned deep truths, and experienced more of God. It was refreshing, but perhaps the most influential part of the trip was when I had a one-on-one conversation with one of the speakers, Nathan Johnson.

Nathan has been part of the Cross Style church and ministry since he was a young adult before being directed by God to move to Colorado and join Eric and Leslie Ludy's ministry, Ellerslie. (You can find more about him at his DeeperChristian website, an incredible resource that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and information on events such as his speaking engagements and yearly Israel study trip.)

I was intrigued by how he definitively knew God was calling him elsewhere, so I pulled him aside one evening to ask how one can hear direction from God.

I've been in a tricky spot myself, a recent college graduate with no clear idea what's supposed to come next. I think deep down, I was hoping for some kind of magic answer from him where I would suddenly know if I should apply for a job or grad school, but that's not what I learned from our conversation.

Instead, Nathan gave me several principles. I think every believer has been in at least one situation where they weren't sure what decision to make or path to choose, so I wanted to share with everyone what he told me, combined with my own personal reflection (AKA don't blame him if I say something unbiblical; that's more than likely me, not him).

It's worth noting that the most important factor is having an open and humble heart. The direction God gives may not always be what we want to hear, so we must be willing to hear what He truly wants, humble enough to know His ways and thoughts are above our own, and close enough to Him to trust His heart, knowing that wherever He leads is for our absolute best and utmost benefit.

1. God speaks to you in a unique language because He knows you and knows how you'll best hear Him.

unique language

Priscilla Du Preez

This is the God who knows when you sit and rise and lie down, who perceives your thoughts from afar, who knows every word before it's even on your tongue, who's acquainted with all of your ways (Psalm 139:1-4).

He created you, and He searches you and knows you. Because of this intimate knowledge and His deep, abounding love for you, He will speak to you in your unique language that coincides with your giftings, personality, experiences, etc. Whether that's through prophetic words, direct Scripture, worship, visions, a gut sense, or something else, it'll be in whichever way you can best hear Him.

2. Seek God, not direction.

seeking God

Luis Alberto Sanchez Terrones

Though this may seem counter-intuitive at first, we must remember that God is not a vending machine or genie. He's not there to grant us wishes or for us to merely ask for things from Him.

The purpose of everything in life is to know Him. Therefore, every situation is meant to drive you closer to God, and it is in His presence, getting to know His heart, that your way will become clear. Because sometimes the very place you're supposed to be directed to is His presence. Maybe in this season, where you're confused and not sure what to do, you're just supposed to be with Him for right now.

3. Your calling is not what you do, but a person—Jesus.

jesus

Edward Cisneros

Oftentimes what we're seeking direction for has to do with our calling. We feel called to be a pastor or missionary or to create art that will reveal Jesus to the world, and now we're calling on God to figure out how to do that.

While those things are great and our intentions are admirable, we cannot mistake our calling to be what we do instead of who we know.

If we believe our calling is what we do, then what happens when circumstances occur that seem to foil that calling? What if you feel called to be a pastor, and then you get throat cancer? You can't preach anymore, and the calling changes. But if your calling is Jesus, it never changes.

4. God will lead you to something you can't do so that you'll be dependent on Him.

man praying

Samuel Martins

If your calling is achievable by your own effort and talent, that ain't it, fam.

When we let our light shine before humankind and they see our good works, their response will be to glorify our Father in heaven, not us (Matthew 5:16). So if we're called to something that seems impossible and insurmountable, something we can in no way accomplish by ourselves, then we're right where we're supposed to be. If we're called to something where we may not get praise or recognition and instead face difficult situations, then we're in the right place.

God will call us to these situations so that He can be our everything. It's not an ego trip where He wants the entire world to know how great He is (though that's what He deserves and we can never truly fathom all that He is on this side of eternity). It's because He knows something we don't, the secret to the Christian life: there is deep joy in the presence of God.

There is peace beyond understanding in Christ. There is true fulfillment and satisfaction that can only be found in Him. There is supernatural strength and miracles and love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control that we can only have when we are completely dependent on Him instead of ourselves.

He calls us to be entirely dependent on Him for our benefit.

5. The "light unto your path" is just enough to illuminate the next step or two, not the whole path.

lamp path

Sayan Nath

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
— Psalm 119:105


It's not a floodlight that will show us the entire path; it's a lamp that will illuminate the next few steps.

It's like when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. He did so backwards, seeing out of his peripherals, not able to directly see where he was going.

Again, God doesn't do this just because He can or because He wants to mess around with us. It's for our benefit. We may not be able to handle seeing the whole path or feel overwhelmed by knowing all the steps we'll be taking.

And, ultimately, whether or not we could handle seeing the end game or whole path, that's not faith. Hope that is seen is no hope at all. And faith is more than just blind belief; it's an intimate, moment-by-moment relationship with Jesus where we live with Him. How would it be loving or for our good if God revealed everything and we felt we could skip that relationship with Jesus?

That is our true best—being with Christ.

6. God will always tell you; you never have to doubt Him.

peace

J'Waye Covington

He's not going to jerk you around or stay silent and never reveal His plans. He's promised that we are friends and not slaves, because slaves do not know the master's business (John 15:15), and that we only need to ask, seek and knock and He will be faithful to answer (Matthew 7:7-12).

At some point or another, He will tell you where to go, what decision to make, what to say, etc. He won't abandon you or leave you out in the cold. Walk in confidence that He will answer.

7. If it's not clear, step out and choose. He will be faithful to tell you if it was the right choice or not.

two choices

Burst

Say you're stuck between two options, whether that's two jobs, two colleges, two cars, two majors, whether to move out of state, what ministry you're supposed to go into, whatever. You've prayed, fasted, consulted the authorities in your life, and you're still unsure which you're supposed to do. Just choose one of them. Either it'll be the right one, or God will show you that it wasn't and will close doors.


Life is never simple, and God never promised that everything will be easy, including hearing direction when it comes to various situations in our lives. But we can stand firm on His promises:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice saying, "This is the way. Walk in it."
— Isaiah 30:21

You don't have to be stressed or anxious about whatever you're facing. Seek God, get in His presence and what you need to know will be revealed at the exact right time.

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God's Letter To The Struggling College Christian

Don't give up on me because I haven't given up on you
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Dear Struggling College Christian,

Life can be tough, especially in college; you’re at that age where you’re not exactly an adult but also no longer a child. You’re somewhere in between, possessing just enough freedom to do what you want while still being held responsible for the decisions you make about your future. You're always stressed out. You’re going to get hurt, you’re going to feel like dropping out or changing your mind, and you’re even going to want to turn your back on me, your God, but I want to tell you this: your suffering is not in vain.

SEE ALSO: I Am Christian Millennial And I Do Not Hate You

I want you to know that everything you are going through is a lesson. It’s all building you into a better person, a better you. The things you’ve asked of me, the things you’ve told me you wanted – those are things you have to be prepared for and you still need a bit of tweaking. The future, though bright, isn’t all sunshine and roses. The path has twists and turns, cracks are in it, fallen logs in your way, and most of the time you’re not going to be able to see straight ahead of you. The weather is going to be unpredictable. The hailstorm is going to knock you off your feet and the twisters are going to send you spinning into confusion, exhaustion and doubt, but with the strength that I am trying to build up in you, you'll find that you know exactly where to find shelter when the storms break down your door.

You’ll find that the lessons you learn from trying times are exactly what you need to fulfill my plans for you. You’ve read Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28, and heard them hundreds of times, but there is a verse in the Bible that you may have never paid attention to: Ephesians 2:10. It reads: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The most important part of this verse is one simple word: beforehand. So while you’re crying and stressing about what job you’re going to land after you graduate, if you’re going to marry that person you’ve been with for years, or if you even want to be majoring in what you’re currently majoring in, I already have a plan laid out specifically for you. You are my child, my creation and you have a purpose.

However, while knowing these things is great, it is all pointless if you don’t do. So here’s what I want you to do: do not give up. Have faith in me. You believe in me, so why not believe in me in your darkest moments? That’s the reason you became a Christian, right? Because I'm the one person you know that won't forsake you. You know that I love you, and you know that I’m here for you, so prove it. I know it can be hard when you’re pulled in a lot of different directions by your social life, your academic life and your extracurricular activities not to mention your family life and your own personal sanity, but take a few minutes out of your day, every day, to talk to me. Tell me your fears and your desires. Remember that you can ask me for and about anything. I'm always going to give you an answer, whether it's a yes, no, or not right now. After that, I want you to stop worrying and fight on through the darkness. You are stronger than you think.

My Child, enjoy yourself while you are young: don't stress over the things that you can't see. Don't give in to the depression, the anxiety, or the stress; things that are not of me. Don't let yourself forget about me or believe that I'm not there when I am and know that my plan is set in place for you. All you have to do is walk in it. Trust that this is all for your good. But most importantly, remember that I love you unconditionally–at your worst and your best. Life can be tough, but you are tougher simply because you are mine.

I’ve got you,

God

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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What We Internalize Can Dangerously Change Our Beliefs And Our Lives

What we think others think can flip our world a little sideways.

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Within the last year or so, I've realized that my "happiness" level (used in quotation marks because that's a very elusive term) seem to depend a lot on how I think other people are perceiving me. If I'm convinced the people around me like me, and that they think I'm kind, maybe funny, and hopefully smart, I'm all kicks and giggles.

If I'm convinced that they despise me, think I'm annoying, incompetent, or a fraud (which happens in my brain quite often), I'm heavy. Because I start to believe in that myself.

Somewhere along the road, I allowed my self-conception to be directly linked to the world around me. I use the word "allowed" because it's a goal of mine to actively fight this, although, sociologically speaking, this is the Looking Glass Self of all humanity (Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929). This theory proposes that human beings' self-concept is the reflection of what we think other people think about us, that we internalize the perceptions we're convinced other people have of us, and that becomes the way we see ourselves and thus we act accordingly.

The way we see ourselves bleeds into everything we do, think, want, etc. Self-conception is powerful.

Now, obviously, it's really difficult to fight something that is human nature, and this part of socialization isn't necessarily a bad thing. We are social creatures— without society, and the people that mold us, we wouldn't function as the human beings we are at all. I'm not sure why we care about what other people think and do so much (some do so more than others), but I think it's pretty human.

Existing as a human being in a broken world can be pretty hard, and maybe that's where this Looking Glass Self thing gets dangerous— we start reflecting a world that is constantly telling us we aren't good enough.

Now, how do I work on something that's just human? How do I un-convince myself of the self-conception I have that often reflects a very negative perception of myself?

The first answer that comes to mind is prayer. That's still a little hard for me right now, because (this post is going to be a too-much-information kind of post) I'm still pretty disconnected from my faith in God right now. I'm not sure what's happened, but things have been jumbled up, and even though the faith that He's still loving me fiercely hasn't left me, my belief in general, my passion, my convincing, feels really, really weak. I know faith isn't feeling. But the feeling is still really overpowering.

And Jesus said to him, "'If you can! All things are possible for one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:23-24)

I believe, help my unbelief. Big realness. Big prayer.

Something concerning prayer that I've thought a little bit about before is the way it might have the power to change our brains. When I pray deeply, with raw belief, I think God is in the midst of all my inner-workings, moving me in ways I will never understand. But God also, being Creator and all, made us physiological beings for a reason.

We've got brains. We've got cells. We've got systems. All of which work perfectly together, when healthy. I don't know, I've never quite clicked completely with my comprehension of science. But I think those statements are pretty well true, no?

Okay! So! If God gave me a brain and all these cool systems that work together, does that mean prayer has to be outside of the physiological? Am I ever really separate from my body as a human being on this earth? Heavens, no! God gave me my body and He loves it! It's fantastic, and so, so smart.

So, then, prayer— which could be seen as a pouring out, a relational act of communication done in great belief— in connection to our brains, is a further convincing. The things we do, think, and say with conviction convince our brains to believe even more in them. We're programmed that way, I don't think it's an accident. The things we pray into, the things we invest our thoughts and beliefs into, are further entrenched into our perspective.

What is the point of all of my blabbing? I'm not really sure! I'm just a human being trying to live strongly with faith in an existence that can be treacherous.

But— I think the point really is that we can fight with our belief. Because it is powerful. Because it changes us. Because it changes the world.

lf we want the Looking Glass Self to build us up, we go to our belief. We believe in our enoughness, in the truth of how beloved we are, in our untouchable value. These are truths we should be convincing ourselves of.

If you've gotten this far in my rambling, congratulations, and thank you.

During my time here in Ecuador, there's been a lot of discomfort and anxiety in both expressing myself and being convinced I'm incompetent. Living with some fun social anxiety and then adding a solid dose of language barrier makes for a toxic concoction of fear. It's awful, so terribly wanting to express yourself, not knowing how, and then sitting back in fear because you've convinced yourself people will judge you for your attempt at imperfect expression.

I've also done a really bang-up job of further convincing myself that I'm an inadequate student and human in general. Always convinced everyone around me is smarter, better equipped for the things they're pursuing, with better ideas and routes of action for the future. The deeper I'm convinced such things are true, the deeper I fall into a state of living that lacks confidence, even passion. It's scary, actually, how my own perceptions of myself, others, and the world can change my own expressions and possibilities. Our own belief in our potential has a lot to do with our potential. More importantly, our own belief in our worth can bolster or destroy.

So, prayer. Intentionally working to try to transform beliefs. Believing in the truth of being beloved. Fighting the moments I let the darkness, fear, lies, inadequacy try to put me in a place I don't belong.

Listening to the voice that says enough. Be who you were created to be. Ser lo quien eres.

Are we letting ourselves believe and live the way we were created to?

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