How do I know I’m following God’s voice and not my own?
The thing most people want to know is — how do I know I’m following God’s call, and not just some desire in my own head?
First of all, it’s important to learn to distinguish God’s voice from other voices. You already started learning about God’s voice at Marker 3, and you’ll be introduced to some ways to stay connected to God’s voice at Marker 7. A call should be consistent with the voice of God we know from the Scriptures — for instance, God doesn’t generally call us to be rich and famous; God calls us to serve. That’s the message that’s consistent with Scripture.
Secondly, the voice of God will be different than all of the other voices in your life. It will not look or feel or sound like anything else.
God gave you a good head and a good heart, so don’t be afraid of things that seem to appear from inside yourself. A call can begin as ‘just a thought’ that sticks around and won’t let go. Then you can explore the thought and see whether or not it matches the voice of God (use Marker 3 for reference). Having conversations with others can help at this point. Listen to other people around you and consult with people you trust. Checking with others can help you ‘get out of your own head’ and check to make sure other people are getting the same signals about you that you are. Don’t try to go it alone — we’re meant to walk together.
Don’t expect miraculous signs that you’re following God’s voice — it becomes a temptation to interpret everything as a sign one direction or another. That’s not to say events in your life can’t influence you, but God is not a Magic 8 ball!
What signs or guarantees are there, if any? Well, there are no guarantees to anything except that God will be with you. Even if you’re following a calling, things won’t necessarily go smoothly. The Extra Resources section (the book and compass icon on the Trail Marker map) has some advice on how to get through tough times when it feels like following your calling is a struggle.
Hang in there — this is a big question, but you’ll keep finding ways to check to see if something is a call throughout the rest of this trail guide.