Have you ever heard God’s voice? What was your response? I remember the first time I heard God’s voice. I did nothing. That’s right ? nothing. It sounded like something and I was somewhat confident it was God, and yet I dismissed it. You could say it was because it was the first time it occurred, or I was on a journey of understanding, but if I’m honest, there are still times when I question what God is saying to me. The issue is not doubting if God can speak; rather, if it’s God I’m hearing. In a world where God is not respected or even, at times, acknowledged, God’s voice is difficult to hear and understand.
I’m reminded of Gideon. Gideon was one of the judges before Israel had a king. During this time, the Israelites were rebelling against God, let alone the pagan cultures around them. Their cycle of spirituality was very similar to the cycle of many today: rebel against God, experience pain, cry out to God for help, God sends help, and when things are better, rebel once again. Sound familiar? It was in that atmosphere, that God spoke to Gideon, and challenged him to do the impossible act of saving Israel from the hand of their enemy (Judges 6-7).
Let’s look at how Gideon responded to God’s voice. Here are three things we can learn:
1. Gideon initially responded with questions.
God ensured Gideon that He was with them and would bring them through the trial they were facing. But Gideon responded with questions: “Pardon me… but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13)
I couldn’t relate more to Gideon. How many times has God put a promise and a challenge in my lap, and my response has been, “why now?”, or “where were you when I needed you?”
In response, God asked Gideon another question: “Am I not sending you?” (6:14) Gideon responded with more doubt: “But how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (6:15).
Not only was Gideon doubting God’s activity among them, he also doubted his ability to help. I think we often doubt how much God can use us. As a result, we push away God’s calling on our lives. What Gideon didn’t know was that God was about to show the Israelites, and everyone around them, His omnipotence, by defeating the Midianites with only 300 men (7:2; 7-8). God wants to show his glory by qualifying the called. (We’ll explore how God uses our weaknesses for His glory in Part 4)
2. God patiently waits.
Gideon wanted a sign to confirm that this was indeed God’s voice. If you couldn’t relate up to this point, I’m sure you can now. How many times have I asked God to confirm what I’m, “pretty sure”, I’m hearing.
It’s encouraging to know that, when we doubt God’s voice, He patiently waits for us. Click To TweetGod’s response to Gideon’s request for a sign has given me so much encouragement:
17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”
And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” (Judges 6:17-18)
It’s not until after God revealed his power through an angel by miraculously consuming Gideon’s offering, that Gideon began to really acknowledge God’s voice (6:19-24). It’s encouraging to know that, when we doubt God’s voice, He patiently waits for us. In fact, God is willing to be so patient, that he allows us to process our doubts as He waits.
Gideon responded with his famous request: the sign of the fleece. He was about to take an army into action and needed further confidence.
36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. (Judges 6:36-40)
God’s patience with Gideon is truly remarkable. God waited, proved himself, and confirmed twice to Gideon that the call he was hearing was indeed God and God’s promise.
3. Gideon’s moments of doubt led to faith-filled steps.
Gideon’s journey, as he processed his doubt, led Him to different moments of action. Gideon doubted God’s voice because of God’s recent lack of activity; however, when an angel appeared before him, he responded with worship and prepared an altar for God (6:22-24). Gideon doubted his ability to save his fellow Israelites; however, when God called, he took a step forward to destroy his father’s altar for Baal and replaced it with an altar for God (6:25-32). Gideon doubted God’s promise of saving them from the Midianites; however, when God confirmed through the sign of the fleece, Gideon stepped forward and began to gather as many men as he could (6:36-7:1).
God is patient, but He expects us to take action. #Doubt #FaithSteps Click To TweetIt’s one thing to doubt and dialogue with God accordingly; it’s another thing, to remain in the state of doubt without taking faith-filled steps forward. After all, it’s our doubt and uncertainty that causes us to walk in faith.1 If we had all the answers we wouldn’t need faith.
God is patient, but He expects us to take action.
How do we move forward?
When God told my wife and me that we had to move away for school, I was full of doubt. I wanted to ignore God’s voice at all costs, but I’m thankful that God was patient with me. He simply waited as I processed my doubt. I remember challenging God with “an impossible test” – a transfer to Toronto with my current employer. Not only did I receive the transfer, but also a promotion. God waited and I was able to process. God provided and I had a choice to either ignore or to take a faith-filled step forward. Even when we made the decision to move, I still wasn’t all-in. There were many more doubts I had to process, but God continued to wait, let me process, and provided ways for me to step forward.
God waits for us to process our doubt & gives us...faith-filled steps towards maturity. Click To TweetIt’s alright to dialogue with God – it’s called discerning. God is willing and waiting for us to process the doubts we have. God’s voice may not always make sense, but He will empower us to do the impossible. He often uses the weak to prove our accomplishments are beyond our own ability. After all, why would God do the impossible if it didn’t lead back to Him?
I believe the key is to take the answer(s) we receive and take one faith-filled step at a time. Like the Psalmist said, “[God’s] Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). God will wait for us to process our doubt and we have to respond by taking one faith-filled step at a time.
When we doubt God’s voice, God waits for us to process our doubt and gives us the ability to take faith-filled steps towards maturity.
How do you process doubt? Do you know God’s voice? If you do, how do you discern God’s voice?
|↑ 1.||John Ortberg, Know Doubt: Embracing Uncertainty in Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), Kindle.|