In most mainstream churches, new converts are taught that if they want to know God’s will for their life, they should study the bible.
Indeed, there is some truth in this perspective, as Psalm 119:105 (NIV) says: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
However, it does not represent the full counsel of God.
I put it to you that it is possible for a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ to hear His voice and to discern His specific will for their lives.
If this were impossible (as some preachers might claim), please explain how is it that the Lord Jesus Christ had Himself said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27; KJV)?
Indeed, the scripture (Isaiah 30:21; NLT) also says:
Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.
I perceive and fear that many new converts may have dropped out of the faith prematurely, because they found that their faith in Jesus Christ was just a formality (“I sit through a 1-2 hour church service every Sunday, and that’s my only interaction with God for the entire week“), and lacked the substance of reality.
I am thus indebted to Brother Paul Hawkins from YWAM (Youth With a Mission), who while in Singapore in 1992, gave two evening lectures on “Hearing God’s Voice“, at the former St. Andrew’s Junior College premises in Malam Road (near Pasir Panjang).
I was studying in the university that year, and I remember walking out of those lectures with a new level of faith (albeit, with still some scepticism), as Brother Hawkins shared from his own personal experience, of how God would direct him time and time again in various areas, and as he obeyed what he perceived to be God’s will, the outcome would oftentime be beyond all imagination.
Fresh from Brother Hawkins’ lectures, I was eager to practice what I had learnt (incidentally, the principles of how to hear the voice of God are outlined in Loren Cunningham’s [YWAM’s founder] book, ‘Is That Really You, God?: Hearing the Voice of God‘).
I was studying Biochemistry at the National University of Singapore, and the class representative of my class.
Back in those days, the lecturers taught using transparencies and OHPs (overhead projectors) (and no, there were no laptops or video projectors back then). Students used to copy the information that their lecturers flashed on screen, by hand, onto their note pads (and no, there were also no smartphone cameras then, and the digital camera had not even been commericialised either).
Some lecturers were kind and did not want their students to be busy copying notes while they lectured, so they would give me a set of the handouts (I was the class representative), and I would then make copies of it for my classmates.
However, I had one lecturer who was rather mean. During his lectures, his transparencies contained many figures and flow charts, and I could tell that he had photocopied them from a book. So, I went to his office one day, to ask him for the title of the book that he had photocopied his figures and flow charts from. He refused, and was rather irritated with my request (the way I saw it, he was lazy, and wanted us copying down things during his lectures most of the time, so that he wouldn’t have to talk as much).
I was sitting in the Medical Library, peeving over my lecturer’s refusal of my request. But what could I do? Suddenly, the idea flashed my mind: “I will ask God to show me the book!”.
Now, before I could even prayed over this, this thought came to mind: “Do not put the LORD your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6:16, NIV).
I then examined my heart, “I have recently learnt that it is possible to hear God’s voice and that God desires to instruct us in very specific areas of our lives. Would I then be putting the Lord to the test if I asked him to show me the book? I confess that, in my heart, I was slightly sceptical over Brother Hawkin’s sharing, but my heart was filled with new faith and hope by what he had shared, and my sprit seemed to bear witness with what he said.”
After examining my heart for a while, I felt that the answer was ‘no, that I was not putting God to test with this requested, because there was a genuine need here. Some of the figures and flow charts that my lecturer had showed were complex and difficult to copy by hand.
So, I prayed.
And the response came almost immediately.
“Stand up and move out of your chair. Turn left, and walk straight down the aisle,” I sensed the Spirit to be saying.
I then perceived the Spirit to be leading me to a specific shelf of books and stood in front of it.
“Look up. It is on the second highest row,” I sensed the Spirit saying.
I pointed at a book with a blue cover on that row, and not wanting other’s to hear me, and think that I was talking to myself, I quietly asked, “Is it this one, Lord?”
“The one with the black cover?” I asked again.
“No, it’s the green one just next to it.”
I snatched the book off the shelf, and when I flipped it open, immediately saw one of the diagrams that my lecturer had flashed on the screen previously.
I had struck gold.
There are thousands of books in the medical library, and God had showed me the exact location of the one I had asked Him about. If I had used my own human strength and wisdom, it would have taken days for me to find the book; besides, there was no guarantee that the book was even among the library’s collection.
Not wanting to offend my lecturer, I didn’t tell him that I had found the book he had refused to tell me the title; I just made copies of the relevant chapters available to my classmates.
You know, it has now been more than 20 year since this incident, and since then, God has continued to lead me in very specific ways, which I look forward to sharing with you over time.