They say there are three voices in our heads – our own, God’s, and Satan’s. If you’re anything like me, you may struggle to differentiate between the three. Fortunately, God has been teaching me dependence and the sound of His voice, specifically through an injury these past 7 months.
Struggling to Hear God’s Voice
I don’t know about you, but I regularly struggle to know I can hear God’s voice.
I especially struggle when I am feeling afraid of the implications of something. Afraid to ask someone a question. Afraid to pray over a need mentioned in passing. Afraid to resign from a toxic job. But it’s a kind of reverse psychology situation for me. I have a hard time discerning if it is God’s voice or fear because my natural response to new things, new experiences, new anything is fear. And each time, I question whether or not it is God’s voice that I am hearing or if I am just giving heed to my fear.
Why is it hard for me to discern the difference between God’s voice and my fear? Recently, the Lord has been teaching me how to hear His voice in answer to my asking Him to speak clearly to me. (It’s one of those situations where you better be ready to accept God’s answer to your prayer.)
Some Quick Background
I’ve always had a fear of motorcycles, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, ATVs and the like. I didn’t grow up riding them and I didn’t really want to, so I never felt jealous when friends shared their cool weekend stories involving their OHVs.
In 2018, God challenged me to have a year of “yes.” The challenge was to suppress vocalizing my immediate reaction of “no” when invited to participate in something new by both people and by God.
I had been challenged to say yes to a lot of things from God and from people throughout the entire year. Each time saying “yes” hadn’t necessarily been easy, but God revealed Himself clearly in each of those “yes” moments.
And so, back in June 2018, when one of the sweetest couples I know invited myself and Cory to go with them and dust off their dirt bikes, I immediately said, “Yes!” Was I comfortable with the thought of it? Not at all, but I was committing to saying “yes” to unfamiliar experiences for personal and relational development.
When Saying “Yes” Was A Mess
When the day of adventure rolled around, we were all excited, and yet, I kept feeling worried that something bad was going to happen. I chalked it up to fear. When I was getting dressed, I started with a pair of jeans that were already ripped, “just in case.” But I wanted to mentally stand against fear, so I changed into non-ripped jeans. I chuckle at that now, because I really wish I had discerned the voice of the Lord better that day.
That wasn’t the only moment of a failure to discern God’s voice because I thought it may be fear, though. We drove out to Badger Flats Vicinity OHV Trails in Tarryall Reservoir Colorado and decked out in some protective gear. While unloading the bikes from the trailer, my nerves knotted my stomach and rested heavy inside my chest and this whisper in my ear said, “If you go, you will get hurt.” I scoffed at what I thought to simply be my fear of new and mentally retorted, “I can’t back out now – I am not going to live in fear.”
I got on the smallest bike and kept it in first gear for a few short laps. Stopping got me the first couple of times because I would forget to take out the clutch and the bike would rev back into a trot after I had slowed it down. I finally felt more comfortable with it and so three of the four of us decided to venture on one of the trails. I was having a blast and I was actually proud of myself for saying yes and not caving to fear.
Then It Happened
It was when we were almost back to the the starting site that the tables turned. Coming up a hill around a curve, the back wheel caught in a patch of sand. While trying to push off and away from the wobbling bike, my right knee was jarred between the bike and a boulder.
The two things in my mind in that moment were neurons firing pain and distress signals to my brain and a soft rehearing of, “If you go, you will get hurt.” There was no condemnation, but I knew that I had heard the voice of the Lord, and I hadn’t listened.
While laying on the ground, waiting for the car to come and get me, I writhed in pain and repeated over and over, “Lord, please heal me. Lord, I’m sorry I didn’t listen. Please, heal me.” I have witnessed miraculous healings, and I firmly believe in the grace and power of the Lord to heal.
But I also have learned that God likes to teach us things through hard experiences and tough realities that we wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise. That entire drive back to Colorado Springs I continued to ask the Lord to heal me. Looking back, I was really asking the Lord to keep me from having to go through something hard and painful. Because hard and painful is not pleasant. I was also asking because I didn’t want to need people to help me, and I knew that this injury would require help from others in daily tasks.
Assessing The Damage
My gravel crusted, bloody knee swelled so much that it looked like an elongation of my thigh with abstract strokes of purple and green adorning the swollen red canvas. After a couple days of extreme denial and extreme doses of Ibuprofen that any doctor would throw a conniption over, I caved and scheduled a doctor’s appointment. I’d done my research on how people perform knee injury tests (like McMurray’s Test) and was TERRIFIED at the thought of someone moving my knee like that, knowing how much it throbbed even in the most comfortable position.
You may be thinking, well, duh, there’s your clue! And I know you’re right, but I was still too stubborn to get X-rays or MRIs despite my doctor arranging for them to be scheduled. She suspected that I’d torn the inner portion of my medial meniscus, which can’t heal on its own. I refused to believe the Lord wouldn’t heal me. I refused to be anything less than on the road to recovery.
Learning Two Hard Lessons
Like I mentioned earlier, God’s classroom is life, and He likes to use personal experiences as His curriculum. I am still learning from injury, but so far, I want to share two foundational lessons the Lord has taught me about walking with Him.
Lesson A – Dependence
If you’ve ever suffered from, or have been around someone who suffered from, a lengthy injury, you know how much longer it takes to do things; how much more energy it takes for daily tasks; and how dependent you have to be on other people.
Dependence is a really hard pill for me to swallow. Just ask my parents; from the time I was talking they would regularly get “No, I do it,” in response to their offers of assistance. In the same way I struggled letting my parents help me, I continue to struggle being wholly dependent on my Heavenly Father. The Lord continues to teach me how, and through this injury was some of that.
Dependence is an attribute of a submitted follower of Christ. Not only are we called to depend on Jehovah Jireh (Psalm 62:5-12) , but we are also called to depend on the community of believers around us, which I had to do through many different people. There is much to be said about being placed in a situation where you must allow yourself to be helped through dependance.
Lesson B – The Sound of God’s Voice
God is also teaching me the sound of His voice. It has been 7 months since that day, and I have reflected regularly on the sound of, “If you go, you will get hurt.” I want to remember every detail about the way that sounded in the moment. That way, when I hear it again, I will be assured that God is speaking to me so I will [hopefully] listen.
I want to engrave the frequency, intensity, and speed of that message on my brain. I want to take hold of the way it felt in my chest (as in spiritual warfare, my indicator is generally a tightness in my chest). I do not want to forget the easily missed inflections and “gut feelings” I have experienced when the Lord is speaking to me.
Why? Because if I can discern the Lord’s voice without a doubt, then I can be assured of what He is asking me to do. Then, in my assurance that He is the one giving instructions, I can have faith to approach the stranger who is His hurting child; and I can build His kingdom the way HE wants it built, not the way I want to build it.
As I continue to journey in relationship with my Heavenly Father, I am growing in greater levels of dependence and knowing the sound of His voice. I encourage you to join me in a passionate pursuit of the Lord through the following introspective questions.
- When have you been injured (physically, emotionally or spiritually) and sense that God was trying to teach you something?
- What did you learn?
- When has someone close to you been injured (physically, emotionally or spiritually) and become faced with a lesson from God?
- What did you learn from their injured experience?
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