Wednesday, October 23, 2013

God's Leading and Our Experience

How does God lead us in our experience? And how do we know it is God? This can be a difficult thing. Especially as there are some who take it to extremes. There are those who react to this by going to the opposite extreme of claiming God only speaks in Scripture and that beyond that we must use our own common sense. I understand this position, as I used to hold to it. It seems somehow much safer. But while it prevents you from following wild impulses, it also makes human reasoning the ultimate arbiter of your behavior in every area where Scripture does not explicitly speak (Proverbs 3:5,6; Hebrews 11:27; 1 Corinthians 3:18). Now it is clear we should not follow our experience when it runs contrary to Scripture (Isaiah 8:20; Galatians 1:8,9; Jude 3). But the real problem comes if we feel God is leading us to do something that is not wrong, but is risky or impractical. I do not think we  should dismiss such things out of hand because they do not look practical. But I also think such things should be approached with great caution and prayer. It is easy to convince ourselves that we are following God when we are simply following our own impulses.


  1. Good thoughts Mike. Reminds me of a morning in May 1998 when I clearly heard the voice of the Holy Spirit echo loudly in my heart. Months prior to that day I had been offered an early retirement package and I was not inclined at all to accept it - it did not make sense to my head to retire at age 49. In my car on my way to work the HS asked me this question: "Is it more risky to stay or to leave?" By the time I got to work I was convinced that the less risky path was to retire. And I am so glad that I followed His lead.

    1. That reminds me of the time I walked into a church for the first time and the pastor said they needed someone to be in charge of the Sunday School. And he said maybe someone just walked in the door for this job. And I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on the shoulder and say I was the one. And it turned out I was. Mine may not have been as life changing as yours but I felt it as something very definite. It is amazing how clearly He can lead us if we are open to it.

    2. Great story Mike! I find that the HS often leads me by asking me questions that stir faith in me. This question rocked my world in 2008:

      ""Why be something to everybody when you can be everything to somebody?""

      GK Chesterton wrote that but it seemed to go through me when I read it ... it gave me so much clarity ... it was as if God was beginning a dialog with me about priorities. My life changed that day as I began focusing on how I could be everything to my wife. That summer I retired from pastoral ministry and began ministering full time at home.