My nervous heart fluttered as we sat together on the warm verandah together and alone. All other siblings were off buying KFC and somehow we weren’t. If I’d ever made a mistake hearing from God, I hoped it wasn’t now.
For the past 12 months God had been speaking to us in whispers that one day we would get married, and though we’d not discussed it, we both knew that the other knew.
I was only 15 and he was 24.
Somehow it came out, sitting there on the verandah, and yet I wondered whether it should have?
And later, as we recounted our verbal steps, I think it shouldn’t have. He said God had told him to wait till I was 16, but he blurted.
And I think we all make mistakes speaking, more so than hearing from God. God plants a seed in our hearts and we’re so excited we start peeking in through the dirt to see if it’s growing and disturbing the roots of what He’s doing.
Like a pregnancy that bursts into labour too soon. Sure the baby may survive, but on life support.
It wasn’t a drastic mistake, but it’s one that we made over and over, pushing too soon. Growth takes time.
But God can redeem such peeking and prodding. We learn to be guided by His peace better and if we’re uneasy about something to press the pause button and pray until we can put the finger on the why and the change the plans.
I love this quote from Becky Thompson from her new book, Truth Unchanging. She brings such practical wisdom to the daily walk of hearing from God in the busyness of motherhood, and she actually talks about times when she has made mistakes hearing from God, and what His voice sounded like in that moment
I’ve talked before about how hearing from God is not always a voice, but how it can be just this little thought or caution, a restraint not to talk to someone about something or just to wait.
For me this looked like the time after the birth of our second daughter where as I was being wheeled off to surgery to repair the tear that I had this sudden thought to call for Stephen to pray against an infection, but I rationalised that I was just overtired and being dramatic. But by the time the surgery was finished I was in full blown shock and with an infection to boot. Yet God displayed a mighty hand as my husband stood up in the room amidst the doctors gathered around my bed and prayed and immediately my vitals became normal and they puzzled over how.
I’ve made this mistake plenty of times since. God has given us a real uneasy feeling about buying a pizza, but we ignore it and all get sick with food poisoning for a week, and that lead to gut issues and allergies for the past two years that we are still trying to navigate.
And so my question is, when we make a mistake hearing from God/ obeying God, what then? How do we move on, especially when they can have huge consequences?
We repent, we receive forgiveness and we forgive ourselves for the mistake, and these are good first steps but I think there’s more.
I’m writing this not because this blog post is wrapped up neatly for me with a bow on top. I’ve been wrestling with my mistakes and unsure how to move on and stop psycho analysing.
Then there’s been other occasions where we’ve moved and done something, and it didn’t go to plan whatsoever. Moved house and town and the business plan and partnership fallen apart on the last trailer load of furniture over those mountains. Did we make a mistake hearing from God or was it like that time the Israelites followed all the directions directly to the Red Sea so God could perform a miracle?
My husband says sometimes its easier to steer a ship that’s already moving than to shove one off the port and God uses things that we want to move us in the direction He wants.
Whether you made a mistake hearing from God or feel like you followed the instructions exactly, you need to know, you’re never a lost soul when God’s got your GPS (God Positioning Co-Ordinates). There’s more than one way to the destiny, it’s just a matter of recalculating, because I didn’t see that turn off coming up and the exit on the round about wasn’t marked like I thought. It’s about the journey not the destination; but trying not to take 40 years because of the attitude.
So this week I’ve been drawing wisdom from two Bible stories where the characters made mistakes heeding God’s voice, and there were consequences yet God redeemed the story and still deeply loved the person. I want to look deeper particularly to see what the characters did to move forward from their mistakes amidst the consequences.
First Moses who after growing up in the Pharaoh’s palace rediscovers his roots, and how badly his people are being treated. He feels the injustice and it stirs him to action; murder of the slave master and he must flee into the desert. Does he feel like he’s blown it?
Yet the detour familiarises him with the desert; the same desert he leads the people back into. And God leads them right to the Red Sea. It’s not a mistake in listening to God this time; it’s God wanting to show Himself strong. And in that moment we often FREAK OUT, like the Israelites did.
And yet I think there is a key here in remembrance. When they complained in later times, God would often remind them of all the miracles He had done and ask why they were freaking out. It was Caleb and Joshua, the guys who in the crisis reminded themselves of God’s promises and past deliverances who were able to inherit the land, because due to the whining the others died out there.
Whining and disobedience cost them badly, and disobedience ended up costing Moses too, yet God still loved him.
In Hebrews 3:7-15 it talks about the Israelites not being permitted to enter God’s rest because they did not know His ways, so what are his ways?
It’s not complaining that’s for sure, so what’s the opposite? Testimony and praise (remembering the miracles God has already done for us and proclaiming them) and prophecy, (holding onto the promises God has made to us). I’m discovering these are our tracks forward, like two parallel railway lines. (Incredible missionary testimony here.)
Another book that has been deeply encouraging in this season is Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers.
At first I didn’t like it as it was really challenging some theology and put it aside for a while but the testimonies are so incredible that I decided to go back and finish it and will likely continue reading his other books. My favourite bit is a vision he shares at the end of being in hospital after years of stomach issues, in absolute agony and choosing to praise God and being suddenly shown this vision of him climbing up a ladder through a dark swirling cloud and each step of the ladder was like choosing to believe God’s Word in the face of adversity and suddenly breaking through above the cloud into the sunshine. At this point he was actually completely healed.
It’s hard to praise either when you feel like you’ve made a mistake hearing God and don’t really want to talk to Him or in the midst of a crisis but we see in the Bible that praise is a serious weapon that confuses the enemy.
African Pastor Jimmy Njino says, ‘Worship is our warship’.
I wrote this quote years ago but God brought it back to me this week and one night my husband sat down at the piano and we both had the same song in our hearts, Raise a Hallelujah by Bethel and God gave him a download how to play in a key he never had before and we sang it over and over for an hour and even though our situation hadn’t shifted, our perspective had. (This song was written in the middle of a huge crisis and the story behind it is incredible.)
In the midst of our crisis it’s so easy to get caught up in what’s going on and this is what we are reminding God of most likely in prayer, but I want to now look at David because he faced his fair share of crisis, probably bigger than what most of us can even relate to going through.
He’d been on the run from King Saul with his band of men for a few years inquiring of God where to go and darting from place to place, but he got tired and decided to go to the land of the Philistines, and they gave him his own town to live in, which when you look at the map, is as far away from Israel as you can get.
From there he would go out and raid the towns and the King of Gath liked having him around. So when they went to war against Israel, David and his men marched to the main town to join in, but the main leader said, ‘no way, he’ll turn on us in battle.’
David and his men were told they had to march all the way back home, and when they got there they discovered that their homes had been raided and all their wives and children taken. David’s men wanted to stone him.
It’s here we discover that David did something very interesting. He wept till he could no more (he felt the pain of the situation, but he didn’t stay there) and then he strengthened or encouraged himself in the Lord.
This word in the Hebrew is Chazaq and it means to fasten upon, to seize, to fortify, lean, cleave, maintain.
Most probably it’s what he did in many of the Psalms, honestly tell God about his situation, but then remembered the miracles God had performed for him in the past. This gave him the strength to move forward and lead his men to overtake and recover all.
It later turns out that had he been involved in the battle against Israel, he would possibly have been pitted against Saul and possibly forced to kill him to show his allegiance to the Philistines. The worst day of his life, turned into God fulfilling the promises of him becoming the king.
I want to encourage you if you feel like you’ve blown it, to review the past miracles God has done in your life and remember any promises He has made to you either through His Word or through prophetic words given by others. This is one of God’s Ways. I’m sure there are many others, but strengthening ourselves in the Lord is how we move forward and I love this Scripture from
Hebrews 12:12-13 in the Passion Translation.
12 So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship. And strengthen your weak knees,[u] 13 for as you keep walking forward on God’s paths[v] all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!
And in the throes of making a mistake the temptation can be to turn off from God’s voice rather than relearn how to hear from God. One of the most helpful books on this topic has been by YWAM founder Loren Cunningham, and the title says it all. “Is That Really You God?”
He’s sharing his mistakes and the attitudes behind them which can be as important as the mistake itself. Hearing from God about marriage, missions, money, parenting and sometimes falling flat on his face, but pressing on closer to hear better and changing the world in the process.
I’ve compiled a collage of Scriptures here that you can download as a PDF that have been encouraging to me in remembering that God orders my path even when I make mistakes and stuff up.