Wow! Such a deep question! And such a real struggle! I am new to Apologetics, like brand new, but not new to Jesus. This is what I know, John 10:14, I am the good Shepherd, I will know my sheep, and my sheep know me.
When you first get a new dog, they don’t know your voice, they don’t recognize your tone. But as you spend time, developing a deeper relationship, a trust, you get to know the dog and the dog gets to know you. The dog recognizes your voice, even after separation for years. The same is true with God. The more that you look for God the more you will see God, the more you listen for God, the more you will hear God, and when you take a step in faith, if God has called you to do something else, He is God, He will continue to guide you. As long as you are willing to take the step, He will be faithful. And the worse case scenario is that you took a step in a direction God didn’t call you to, He promised that He will not waste a step.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Thank you Megan for this quotation. It strikes me that it has levels of meaning that we are quite likely to miss. As I read it in your post I realise that “the one you obey” may be your “image” of God, rather than God Himself. And as I read Amy’s original post, I realise that for me at least, the “image of God” I have may not be the correct one. And the danger is, that with my wrong “image of God” I can quite likely find support for direction in the Scriptures for a course of action that is not really God’s first choice.
Our sermon this morning was centred on the controversies caused by Jesus’ feast at the home of Matthew on the evening of his decision to follow Jesus. The Pharisees understood and adhered to the law, and an image of God as pure and holy, a God who wanted separation from all that was impure and unclean. So they could not possibly accept a word from the Spirit to eat with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus had great respect for the righteousness of the Pharisees - and said that unless we have an even greater righteousness we would not enter the Kingdom of God. The disciples of John the Baptist on the other hand, had an image of God that precluded such partying at a time when fasting seemed far more appropriate (John’s gospel was "REPENT! and be baptised! Understand your sinfulness and the danger of God’s wrath you are facing!) So they had difficulty accepting any inner voice that said “Rejoice!” Both had incomplete understanding of what God is really like, and therefore had difficulty in hearing (or accepting) voices that were not consistent with their “image.”
Jesus (especially on the cross) is the best image we can get of God. Yet I, at least, have such a poor understanding of the depths of what actually was going on in His life and death, and so probably miss or am confused by inner voices that don’t match my level of understanding.
There are many passages in both Old and New Testaments that attest to 1) our mistaken image of God’s moral character, and 2) of God unbreakable faithfulness to us, in spite of our failure to seek out and grasp the truth. There is enormous hope and comfort in #2. He knows very well where we are in our relationship, and that doesn’t alter his steadfast love. Even when the Israelites forsook him, He remained faithful to His covenant with them. Jesus made a new covenant with us, but it also came with the promise "I will never leave you, nor forsake you.! And Paul made that remarkably long list of all the things that couldn’t possibly separate us from the love of God.
So to Amy, myself (yes I talk a lot to myself), and all of us, let us earnestly seek to know the God of the cross, to seek first His Kingship - as implied in Kingdom, and His righteousness (as exemplified in His merciful forgiveness). Because only then, when we know Him better and better, will we be able to recognise his voice and direction. Be encouraged! “You will find me when you seek me with all your heart!”
Recently I have been very deeply hit by Micah 6:8 as a standard against which to assess “directions.” It is in brief: “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” So straightforward - so why is it so difficult?
I really appreciate the question you’ve posed here and your transparency. I’ve been very inspired by the advice that others have given and am taking it to heart as well!
Recently I asked a similar question where some very helpful answers were given, feel free to check the thread out. I will pray for you as you seek the Lord each step of the way. Blessings to you, friend!