A few years ago, a young woman name Michelle made an appointment with me to talk about the direction of her life and her desire to serve Jesus wholeheartedly. I was drawn to her the moment we met. She was really smart, well versed in the Bible, and contagiously enthusiastic about making a difference for the Lord. She was feisty and inspiring! As we talked about her life and dreams, she eventually shared with me the frustration she felt about her spiritual life. She had been serving in a ministry that was focused on the Great Commission but, unfortunately, had not taught her very much about intimacy with God.
She had begun to feel dissatisfied with her Christian life because it did not look at all like the apostle Paul’s. Paul seemed to be continually led by the Spirit. She wondered, How did he know it was the Spirit? Was it an audible voice? Did he feel a push? Or was he just a super Christian who was gifted with the ability to always hear God’s voice? Unwilling to believe Paul had a special lifestyle that was unavailable to the rest of us, she began to pray, “Lord teach me how to be led by the Spirit.” Though she wasn’t sure exactly what she was asking for, she knew she wanted what Paul had.
As Michelle and I talked, we both began to sense that God was up to something big in this meeting. It wasn’t long until she was in tears. As the peace of God permeated the room, I asked her, “Michelle, how important do you think it is to know how to hear the voice of the Lord?”
She paused. Later, she told me that this question had caught her off guard. After all, she prayed every day and had read through the Bible. She had memorized hundreds of Bible verses and regularly told people about Jesus. I’m not spiritually stupid, she thought. Of course I think it’s important. But then she realized the truth. Looking at me with something akin to amazement, she said, “Apparently not that important, or you wouldn’t be asking me the question.”
What Michelle had realized in that moment was that her theology of God was based on working to earn His love. The very thing she lacked and longed for was an intimate relationship with Him in which she was led by His revelatory voice and heard His perspective and answers to the questions on her heart. For so long, she had taken pride in over-analyzing and creating answers to life questions on her own. While she talked to God and asked Him questions, she did not know how to listen to the still small voice of God, and she did not really expect Him to answer. She was so busy finding her own solutions that she didn’t know how to be still and connect with His heart.
This realization was the beginning of a transformation. Instead of being self-led, Michelle began to be Spirit-led. Instead of living by the evidence, she began living by faith, and she learned to respond to crisis with peace instead of fear. She no longer sought to simply understand God with her mind but to love Him with her heart. All this happened because of an encounter with love. At the bottom of Michelle’s struggle was a void in her heart. Like me, she needed to meet her heavenly Father and experience His lavish love. When she finally did, she discovered how easy it is to serve and love people from a place of overflow.
This is an excerpt from my new book Loved Like Jesus.
I wrote it because I want you to experience the deep love that your heavenly Father has for you. Living from this reality as a much loved son or daughter, you can rest in a confident connection with Him and experience abundant living and lasting freedom.
Order my book today for yourself and an extra copy for a friend, your pastor and/or your small group.