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Hearing From God When I’m in a Mess

freemp3-johnImagine you’re fortunate to have a loving dad who possesses superior insight, influence and resources. But you don’t talk to him much—you’re just too busy.

Except when a crisis hits, in which case you barge through his front door, firing off questions: “What do I do about money? And my job? You know what a mess I’m in; my boss hates me, and what the heck am I supposed to do about those TPS reports? Plus I have this weird growth on my back; how do I make it go away?”

Your dad smiles, looks into your eyes and says, “Sit down, child, we’ll get to that. Haven’t seen you in a while . . . Can I get you a Coke? How’s the family?” But you’re not interested in chitchat—you’ve come for specific answers, and you need them fast.

Curiously, your dad knows this but purposely holds the answers back. Why? Because he’s most interested in intimacy and, if he were to dispense directives as fast as you want, you’d rush out the door and not return for another three months. (Plus, the kind of help you really need has nothing to do with TPS reports or the funny growth on your back.)

Sadly, this scenario (fresh in my mind from a podcast by John Eldredge and Craig McConnell of Ransomed Heart) often mirrors how we approach God—like an ATM: Punch in our password, get our cash and go. We go to him in panic mode with our list of demands and we’re frustrated he’s not spitting out answers fast enough.

Meanwhile, he’s often after something deeper or more important than giving us money or job-related information in the midst of our fits. “Of course he wants to speak, guide and direct us,” John explains, “but not at the expense of relationship . . . He’s not the heavenly Wikipedia.”

So what do we do when we need an answer now? Recognizing that such answers flow out of consistent, conversational intimacy with God, John tells us he’s intentionally formed the habit of sitting down in the morning with a cup of tea, journal and pen in hand, and simply asking, “Lord, what is it that you want to speak? What’s on your heart today?” “It’s a way of letting go of my list,” he explains.

Occasionally he might add, “Lord, I’m not hearing you on [insert question]. What do you want to talk about? What question should I be asking?” “I let him change the question,” John adds, “and take it to what he wants to take it too.”

If you feel like you’re not getting answers from God, it’s possible he’s trying to talk to you about something else. Forget the boss and the TPS reports for a minute—what are your real heart issues?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


  • Think on this: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” [Matthew 6:33]
  • I need to give credit where credit’s due: Much of this post is an adaptation of the Ransomed Heart podcast (“Intimacy” episode). You can download it from iTunes or by clicking on the “Free mp3” graphic above.
  • More on this topic in our next couple of posts: I’ll share how I started hearing from God, and then some insight that changed the way I view Romans 8:28.

5 Responses

  1. when we want anwers, we always know who to turn to 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post, it is convicting.

  3. wow I just finished a meeting with my pastor on hearing God and now i come here an there is this awesome post!!

  4. Not a big fan of John E., though I enjoyed The Sacred Romance, which he co-wrote.

    Anyway, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree came to mind in this post.

    Amazing what God puts up with.

  5. Sam: Thanks for the resource tips — I’ll check those out! I must admit I’ve never read anything by John E., but I’ve enjoyed some of his podcasts.

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