In the last chapter of my book (being released this November) I share a story about how Trevin and I made the decision to move from Boise, Idaho to Portland, Oregon. Before it all began Trevin and I were looking for the next step in our lives. When the idea of moving crossed our minds and became a topic of discussion I remember being so scared. I told Trevin that God had to give him a Bible verse. This was an unusual expectation honestly. Usually when we make decisions we don’t expect God to give us a Bible verse, but this decision was a life changing decision. This decision would change the course of our destiny, our children’s futures, and family legacy. Therefore, I wanted to be able to read it in black and white!
As a young adult I attended Boise State University and then Portland Bible College. When Trevin and I got married we talked about how many children we wanted and when. These are also big choices, but we didn’t look for a Bible verse to speak to us. We waited for logistics to line up based on our priorities and values.
When I was a sophomore at Centennial High in Boise, Idaho I wrote down the names of 14 friends from my high school. I would pray for them regularly and then invite them to youth ministry believing their relationship with Christ would begin or be further solidified. I made a plan to tell my friends about Jesus and just did it, based on what the Bible says.
As you can see there are different levels of obedience when it comes to following the Holy Spirit, which make things confusing to understand, especially if someone doesn’t know how to hear God and if they don’t read their Bible regularly. Maybe you have experienced this “clear as mud” kind of concept before as well. I wanted to share with you a few things I try to keep in mind as I do my best to follow the Holy Spirit:
- The Holy Spirit doesn’t want to trick me or make me miserable. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly, (John 10:10) and depending on where you are in the world and what culture you are living in, the definition of an “abundant life” could mean something totally different than what I perceive it to be. For example, say someone else finally has access to clean water, but I have the privilege of making money and paying my water bill. For some, an abundant life is having access to only one page of the Bible and living their life on those few verses, for me it looks like having an app on my phone and 3 other Bibles in my house, not to mention I can order a Bible for my children when I believe they are ready to start devo’s themselves. What is abundance to you? To God?
- I’m not going to get it right every time; that’s why repentance, forgiveness, grace and mercy are available to me (us) every day.
- I am always learning how to better follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life. The more I learn about God, through Bible engagement, the more I will be able to discern how I should think about myself and how I should behave.
Now that we have set some expectations for following the Holy Spirit, here is how to follow the Holy Spirit:
- Pray, ask & listen for the Holy Spirit to give you an idea. Balance what you feel like the Holy Spirit is telling you with what the Bible says.
- Weigh what you hear (from others AND/OR the Holy Spirit) with principles found in scripture.
- Get Godly counsel before you start. Wrestle with your doubts & fears here! Let someone else help you face them. Take your time. Don’t rush this step and the next step…
- Work! Save money, research, make plans, ask others to join you… then
- DO IT! Obey what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do.
Notice the Bible may not tell you what country to visit on a short term missions trip, but the Bible does say “Go into all the nations…” Mark 16:15. If you will work hard to raise the funds, get permission (if you are a minor), get time off work (if you have a job)…you know— just get your life all lined up, then GO! Go into all the world and spread the love of Christ. Pick any nation your church is sending a group too! God will use you.
Perhaps you are someone who has been terribly abused as a child and you can’t help but feel deep compassion for kids who are currently in the same situation you were in once so you decide to join a non-profit organization to be a leader in the community. I guarantee you the Holy Spirit wants to lead you to share the love of Christ right there, right where you are. Shine your light in the dark!
Here is another real example in life that people are wanting to hear from the Holy Spirit: Finding “the one!” It’s funny talking with my husband about this because when I met him I knew I would marry him. But he didn’t ever hear the Holy Spirit tell him to date or marry me. God didn’t tell Trevin that I was the one, but we have a fantastic marriage. So how did he pull that off? Why would God tell me and not Trevin? (I share more about this in my book too!) Trevin based his choice on priorities and values. Those priorities and values are built on the Bible, his family culture, and common sense.
Let me unpack this idea of how to follow the Holy Spirit a little bit more with this final thought:
Think of the day you asked Jesus Christ into your heart to be your Lord and Savior. Most likely someone shared Biblical content with you. Most likely you had a question or a need that hadn’t been met in your life. Most likely you were introduced to Jesus Christ by someone you know.
The same logic you used to choose Christ and then say “Yes I want to be a Christian” and decided to pray the salvation prayer, is the same logic you use when following the Holy Spirit. Maybe we could call it a “spiritual logical pull.”
As Christians we should run all of our spiritual logical pulls through the Word of God. If it doesn’t line up with the Bible it’s probably emotions, mental health, or just a bad day. If it does line up with the Bible, or you aren’t sure, get Godly counsel then step out in faith. Try it! Remember Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous!” Say what you think the Holy Spirit is leading you to say! Give that gift card; hold the door for a stranger, smile, and say “Good Morning”; start that business; change the way you discipline your children; choose to forgive your roommate; stop holding grudges against people; invite that neighbor to your house, begin to build relationships with them, and then invite them to church; stand up for whats right in your local politics; CHASE YOUR DREAM of good health or pursing some big project… You’re life will be better for it!
Imagine what would happen in our churches, our cities, this nation and the world, if Christians would step out and TRY something they “kinda-sort-of-aren’t-sure” if the Holy Spirit said it, but “gosh that would be cool to try!”
Let’s not get overwhelmed with asking God what we should wear, what we should eat or drink, as long as it doesn’t cause someone else to stumble. (Note: The appearance of evil can cause someone to be confused, gossip, doubt, etc. Let’s not lead others into mindsets or conversations that are battlefields for them in their walk with Christ.)
We need more Christians thinking of ideas (that match the principles and themes of the Bible) and doing them. Doing them well so that others would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and so God would be glorified.
What was the last thing God asked you to do? Have you done it? If not, pray and then set an appointment to get sound advice, do some research, save your money, and then DO IT! See what God does through you. Then would you message me and tell me about it? I would LOVE to hear your stories.