How I knew that God had spoken to me
Do you ever face situations where you are unsure whether or not God is speaking to you? These tips from Tania Harris should help.
In 2000, God called me to plant a church. It was an impossible situation. A church that had disintegrated, crippling financial debt and barely enough to call a team.
It was to be in St. Kilda, the ‘red light district’ of my city, a risky place for anyone let alone a single woman. With such dire odds, everyone said I shouldn’t do it. But God had spoken, so in the face of fear and dread, I did it anyway. The question was, how did I know it was God?
A Call to the Impossible
As Christians, we’re called to do things we would never normally do. Moses parted an ocean, Peter walked on water and John healed a lame man. God gives power and grace to those who hear his voice and follow it. We’re called to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), but when you can’t see, you better know you’ve heard.
The problem is that while God’s revelation is pure, ours is not. Like water flowing through a rusty pipe, our experiences, mindsets and desires all act to contaminate what we hear. Indeed the first thing we need to know about getting it right is to realise we can get it wrong. That’s why God has provided a number of tests for us to use:
Would Jesus say this?
The most important test to ask about any revelation is: “Would God say this?” Does it align with his character and nature? Here we look to the life of Jesus as told in the Scriptures since Jesus is the perfect image of the invisible God.
Anything the Spirit says today will be consistent with what Jesus has already said. So, does it produce the fruit of his teachings and actions; love, joy and peace, strength, encouragement and comfort?
It seems obvious that planting a church is something Jesus would say since he’s given the great commission to each one of us (Matthew 28:18-20). At 30 years old, I’d been training for ministry, so the question became, was this particular scenario for me?
Safety in numbers
God’s call to pioneer had started with a random thought at a prayer meeting; 'Till the soil.' My first impression was that it was from God - largely because I had no idea what it meant.
I knew tilling had some association with farming, so like Sherlock with his eyeglass, I started hunting the Bible for clues. There was Job losing his crops, Ruth gleaning leftover grain and Jesus preaching about seed - but nothing on tilling. Ten minutes of fruitless searching followed before I decided it couldn’t have been God after all.
Over coffee afterwards, a friend came up to chat: “I had a vision of you while we were praying,” he said; “I saw you on the edge of a new field that hadn’t been tilled yet.” I soon learned that tilling is what farmers do to prepare the soil. The vision spoke of a new field that was ready for harvest. God’s voice was clear.
One of the greatest blessings of the New Covenant is that God can speak through other people. The Holy Spirit within us resonates with the word of the Lord in others (Acts 15:28). I knew that God was calling me to plant a church because he spoke the same thing to my friend. There’s safety in numbers!
Signs that Follow
When God speaks, he often follows it with a sign. This is different to sitting at a traffic light saying; “God, if this is you, let the light go green in the next five seconds!” When Jesus wanted to confirm his word as the ‘bread of life’, he multiplied five loaves and fed 5000 with them. It was a supernatural, tangible display of what he said.
God also used a sign when he spoke about my church. A year after the vision, he spoke in a dream announcing; “This is the day!” That very morning my pastor offered me the role.
Though it was a tough call, knowing God’s voice enabled me to believe for the impossible and see a wonderful church established. It’s the promise Jesus gave to each one of us, that having recognised his voice, we would be able to follow (John 10:27).