This morning I read an e-mail from a dear friend who is going through a heart-breaking family trial. Things have been sketchy for a while, but events have recently taken a new turn, requiring much of my friend's strength, time and money. As I read through the update, I felt a nudge within my heart to give something to this friend in need. "Give her some money or buy her some groceries," the still, small voice said.
My mind immediately balked at the idea. "No disrespect intended, Lord, but are you kidding me? You know how tight finances are right now. We've had a lot of unexpected expenses lately. On top of that, Jason's workload this week was puny, and next week looks worse, which means he's going to have some skimpy paychecks. We're going to be lucky to make ends meet ourselves, and you want me to give some away?" I felt like the opposite of the The Little Engine That Could: "I think I can't, I think I can't, I think I can't." I pushed the urging aside, telling myself that it originated from my desire to help this friend in need, but not from God. He knows all we can do right now is to help ourselves.
I went on to do my Bible reading and then to read the next chapter in the Charles Stanley book I'm reading, "How to Listen to God." I cringed when I read the chapter title, "Identifying the Voice of God." I almost set the book down but felt compelled to read the chapter as I had planned. God had a lesson for me.
In the chapter, Stanley gives the following guidelines for identifying the voice of God:
1.) It will not contradict Scripture, - Last time I checked, the Scripture encourages helping other believers, so the prompt to help this friend was certainly Scriptural.
2.) It will conflict with human wisdom. - Ain't that the truth! That's just what I was saying. I'm looking at the numbers. I'm looking at the bills. It just doesn't add up. Human wisdom says, "Look after yourself. You can't afford to help anybody else."
3.) It will clash with fleshly nature. - If I give money to someone else, will I have enough to buy the things I want, not to mention the stuff I need? Hmm.
4.) It will challenge your faith. - Giving money that isn't there to give is certainly a trial of faith. It will require me to trust God to meet my needs instead of trying to manage and budget every penny myself.
5.) It will require courage. - Am I brave enough to give away what I have to a friend in need when I have no idea how to make ends meet myself? Do I have that kind of courage?
By the time I had finished the chapter, I knew there was no denying it. God was speaking to me. He was telling me to do something, but because I didn't see how it would work out, I tried to dismiss it. Well, I can't deny it any longer. It's quite evident what God wants me to do. I don't know how things will work out. I don't know what God will do through my obedience. But I know I will be worse off if I don't obey.
Do you feel an inner nudging today that you're dismissing because of the improbability of the situation? If so, put that nudging to the test. Follow the guidelines above and see what you discover. The prompting could have come from an errant voice, or it could have been God trying to guide You into His will. No, it may not make sense. No, it may not add up. Yes, it may seem crazy. But, as the old saying goes, "Where God guides, God provides." He'll work everything out better than we could have imagined. I'm willing to put it to the test. How about you?
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. - John 10:27