Right around the time that I began growing in my newborn faith, a teacher introduced me to a children’s book called The Song of the King, by Max Lucado.
In it, three knights undertake a journey to try and earn the hand of a princess they love. But the way leads through a dark forest filled with enemies who are determined not to let them pass, and it is nearly impossible for them to hear the one song that is their lodestar — the song that the king plays on the walls of their destination, three times a day.
As they slog through the thickest and most dangerous parts of the wood, they find that the deadliest threat doesn’t lie in being attacked or even ambushed; it’s the hour of the day when the king begins to play the song, because in that instant the enemy starts up with songs of imitation. Songs just similar enough to lead the knights down paths of no return.
As a middle school student back then, I already knew how fear can blast out the sounds of saving grace, how regret can play a more compelling counterpart to the invitation of repentance. I wanted to know how I could be reasonably sure of following the voice of my Savior in a world filled with counterfeit melodies, so when I came across these words from two saints who knew what it was to converse with God, I wrote them down.
Though Amy Carmichael and George Mueller lived and served in places half a world apart, their words and experience in this vein are strikingly similar. Both became known for the service that resulted from their prayers.
Y and I have returned to them again and again through the years as we’ve asked God to guide us: from singleness to dating, from dating to marriage, from the East Coast to the Rockies, at kitchen tables and in prayer closets. As an introvert with a functioning imagination, I hear my share of imitative songs and “great delusions” (see below), and these words have stood me in good stead. I’m passing them on today in case they might help a fellow traveler.
The devil sometimes speaks and tries to deceive us into thinking it is the voice of God. He tries to get us, who long to walk in the light, to follow instead a will-o-wisp into the marsh. In the matter of guidance there are 3 important points:
- The Word of the Lord in the Bible
- The Word of the Spirit in our heart
- The circumstances of our lives, which have been arranged by God.
All three must point one way. It is never enough for any two of them to be taken as showing God’s will. If the voice is God’s all three will agree.
– Amy Carmichael
Here is how [George Mueller] summed up the way he entered into a “heart” relationship with God and learned to discern God’s voice:
- I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the knowledge of what His will is.
- Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
- I seek the Will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.
- Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s Will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
- I ask God in prayer to reveal His Will to me aright.
- Thus, (1) through prayer to God, (2) the study of His Word, and (3) reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly.
– Experiencing God, Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King.
This post is part of a 31 day series about Loving God as an Introvert.