The word vocation comes from the word “Vocare”; which means to call. There is a definite place God calls us to be; a vocation that will fulfill a specific god-given purpose in our lives. We were designed for a reason; our lives were intended to matter. Do you know your purpose? Frederick Buechner once said,“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meet.”The calling God has for us pulls at our hearts toward a particular job, profession, occupation, trade, art, or craft. God gently nudges us toward it-one step at a time. If gentle nudging doesn’t work He has been known to push us toward it, even if it leaves a bruise. But, the benefits are well worth the temporary pain.
How can we be sure we are hearing from God? We can’t be sure if we don’t recognize His voice. To recognize God’s call and step into your vocation it is essential to know God’s character, and the way He has consistently operated in your life in the past.
God speaks volumes to you and me daily; probably not as He did in the days of the bible when He was proving who He was to mankind. So, in all probability there won’t be a burning bush experience; He won’t speak audibly in a spectacular way to convince us that it is God. He speaks to us through others, through our circumstances, through nature, through dreams, through visions, and through scripture. And, He also speaks directly to our mind.
But His voice is not the only one we hear. The inaudible voices we hear in our mind come from one of three sources:
1. Our own inner thoughts.
2. Satan influencing our thoughts.
This is how to tell which voice you are hearing:
You will recognize the devil’s voice because it condemns. Condemnation makes us feel that we are bad or worthless. Condemnation causes us to run away from God in an attempt to hide our shame and guilt. That is what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden when they listened to the devil. Self-pity and self-condemnation come from the devil. We should always resist these impulses.
The devil will also try to talk us into dwelling on thoughts that are opposed to what is right. Those who are spiritual, but don’t have a relationship with God, are on dangerous ground. They may cause others harm because“God told them to do it”. The devil’s voice coaxes us to do something wrong—against what the bible says we should do—in an attempt to cause us spiritual, physical or emotional harm. The devil knows scripture and will try to use it against you by twisting the truth to make things seem alright. Know scripture well; it is your weapon against the schemes of the devil. Read Matthew 4 to see how Jesus was able to overcome the devil.
God’s voice is a still, small voice in your mind that may sound much like your own inner thoughts; however, His voice is more like a feeling deep down in your spirit that leads you in one direction instead of another. When God talks to us He causes us to just know what should or should not be done. Through this intuition, or what some people call a hunch or conscience, we just know that we know. And, through experience, we discover that whenever this inner prompting is ignored we will end up in a bad situation.
One of God’s character traits is love; so His voice will always encourage us, always build us up, and always keep us from harm. His voice also convicts us. Conviction is different than guilt or shame. Guilt causes us to run from God and hide. Conviction brings us to a point that we recognize what we are doing is wrong and makes us want to stop. We change our behavior out of love for God, not out of fear of punishment.
God’s voice will never lead you to do anything that is against scripture. But, if you don’t know what the Bible says, you won’t know what God expects of you. Getting to know God means knowing His written Word—God and His Word cannot be separated. We will know God by learning what God has said about Himself in scripture.
We won’t know God’s voice from anyone else’s until we’ve become familiar with it.
There is a story in the bible about a man called Samuel. God kept calling Samuel in order to lead him into his purpose, but Samuel kept responding to the wrong voice. You see, Samuel did not yet know God and was not familiar with His voice. Once Samuel learned to recognize the voice of God he was able to respond to his calling.
There is a purpose for your life too—will you recognize God when He calls you?