I’m a couple of months away from turning 28, and the last few years around my birthday, I’ve had some moments of pause. And honestly, the last year or two, my moments of pause have seemed to continue further and further away from just December 17. (That’s my birthday, so feel free to send any gifts that you’d like.)
These moments of pause, introspection and honestly of confusion could I guess be qualified as a bit of a quarter-life crisis. However, I wouldn’t say it’s that extreme. Instead, it mostly centers around me feeling like I don’t know what my calling, passion or purpose is. I definitely can’t state it, and over the last year or so, that’s been a big question that I’ve been trying to answer for myself. What is it that really is driving me? What is it that wakes me up in the morning long-term? I really enjoy my job and the people I work with and what I do, but I have a hard time picking out exactly why that is and what it might look like long-term. What is my purpose?
Now, I know that’s a big question, but luckily, we have a big God. So naturally, I’ve spent a lot of time asking God those questions. Consistently I’m asking God for direction, to call out things in my day that will help me shape what my calling is or anything of the sort. And I’ve felt like I have gotten nothing. I’m no closer today to being able to tell you what is that thing that is specifically Taylor’s life calling or purpose or whatever you want to call it.
I’ve written before about how I’ve learned in these seasons to trust God more and put one front in front of the other and trust God. I still believe that’s true, and that kind of trust for God is something I’m still learning.
However, I’ve recently learned something else as to why I feel like I’m not “hearing” God’s direction in this area that I so desperately ask for. I’m not sure that I know what God sounds like.
Recently, I was spending time reading my Bible and was struck by the story where Jesus is talking about him being the Shepherd and his sheep knowing His voice. The sheep know His voice when they’re in the pen, and when they’re far from the pen, they know His voice still. And I realized that maybe the reason that I don’t think I’m hearing from God is because I don’t know His voice. Maybe God’s shouting at me, but I don’t know it because His voice is getting mixed up with the other voices around me.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve had this thought, to be honest, but I always come back to the same question: “How do I learn God’s voice then?” I’ve never been able to come up with a great answer, but for some reason, the other day it hit me.
God’s voice is the Bible.
If I want to be able to discern what God is trying to share with me, the best way for me to understand His voice is to read His Word. God’s Word is exactly that; the words of God. So if I want to know God’s voice in my life, I need to learn what He sounds like by reading the Bible.
That was massive for me.
Instead of just begging God to show up and speak into my life, I need to first learn His language: I need to not just read the Bible as a story but as the active voice of God.
So how do we do that? How do we hear from God?
1. Engage With Your Bible
First and foremost is engage with your Bible. Notice I didn’t say read your Bible. We’ve all been in school when we had assigned reading, read four pages and got to the end of a section and realized that we have no idea anything that was said in that section. Too often, I can do this with my Bible. I’m reading a section, but my mind is elsewhere. Engaging with my Bible requires me to read and think through how this is applying to my life. I recently got a life application study Bible, and it’s been massively helpful in this realm. The footnotes explaining verses and applying them to life is incredibly helpful for me.
I’ve also started utilizing the SOAP method for my quiet times. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. Simply put, you read a chapter, pick a Scripture that sticks out to you, make some observations about the context around the verse, apply what that verse means to you in your life right now and then write out your prayer around what you learned in that study. For more details, this is a fairly common method so do some googling!
RELATED: How to Hear God’s Voice Clearly
2. Find Accountability
Second, I rely heavily on the people in my life. I’m not one to open up to many people, but with the few that I do, I have a lot of trust. That means that they hear my ugly parts and good parts, but because they get to see the real Taylor, they also get to be real with Taylor. They have permission to speak into my life whether I like what they have to say or not. Because there are so few of these people and we’ve built a lot of trust that they’ll accept and love me no matter what, I take what they say very seriously. I think that God uses these people frequently in my life to speak truth He’s trying to get through to me.
Taking what those trusted people say to me and taking it back to the truths of the Bible is the ultimate filter to make sure I’m hearing what God is saying to me through them.
Finding those people might seem difficult, but I would bet you can name at least two or three right off the top of your head. Ask God to use them in your life. And honestly, tell them the position and trust they have in your life. When people know how much weight their words carry, they choose them very carefully. Those people want the best for you and don’t want to steer you away from God’s plan for your life.
3. Practice Prayer
Finally, practicing prayer more and more has been helpful to me. It’s a challenge for me to sit silent in prayer, but I’ve learned that prayer isn’t just me lobbying God for things that are on my mind. Prayer is a conversation that requires me to be quiet, as well. I’m not sure in those moments exactly what thoughts are from God and what are in my own mind, but this comes back to reading my Bible to know what God says.
In prayer, hearing from God is a lot easier if I’ve been consistently engaged with His definitive Word.
I still have yet to hear from God in a big, booming voice where the clouds part, but I’m learning to acknowledge and understand His nudges more and more as I put these things into practice.