Joe McKeever on Knowing the Difference Between God Talking to You and You Talking to Yourself

“Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string…” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Emerson meant well. But boy, did he ever miss it by a country mile.

Your heart can do crazy things to your guidance system. Giving it free rein to set the direction of one’s life can be risky.

“Trust yourself” is good advice for some people in some situations. As a blanket rule for all people in all situations, no sir. Not even close.

The letter came from a minister of music in the next state.

I see that your church is looking for a minister of music/worship leader. I serve (name) church in (town, state) and am enclosing my resume. Not long ago as I was in your city, the Lord told me I was to become your next minister of music. I look forward to hearing from you.”

That hit me like some woman saying God told her she was to be my next wife.

It just doesn’t work that way.

I wrote him back: “Thanks for your letter. As soon as the Lord tells me the same thing, we’ll be in touch.”

Since that was decades ago and life has gone on, one wonders if he is angry at the Lord for misleading him, disappointed in me for not listening to God, or perhaps reconsidering his reception of heavenly messages.

It’s always in order to scrutinize whether the voice we are hearing is God’s or someone else’s.

Little Leigh Anne asked her preacher grandfather, “Papa, how do you know when it’s God talking to you and when it’s just you talking to yourself?”

Pastor James Richardson hugged her and said, “Honey, that’s one of the hardest things any of us have to learn in this life.”

Have you ever started to board a plane and had a premonition that this plane would crash? I have. I went right on and boarded it and arrived safely. My “premonition”—if that’s what it was—was wrong. And yet, how often we hear of people who obeyed that impulse and canceled the flight and were spared certain death when that plane went down? We hear those stories, but what we do not hear are the countless instances—like mine—where people had the premonition and went against it and arrived safely.

So much for premonitions.

I had one that is almost too embarrassing to tell. In fact, this will be the first time I’ve told it, some 23 years after the fact. When you see what it is, you’ll understand why I kept it to myself.

In 1996, our seminary in New Orleans was looking for a new president to succeed Landrum Leavell. They called Charles “Chuck” Kelley Jr., who did an outstanding job for all these years and is now retiring. He was so clearly God’s man for the position, as evidenced in a thousand ways. I’m one of his biggest fans.

But earlier that year, I had a sudden impulse that God wanted me to be the president of the seminary. And yes, I thought that was as crazy and as unlikely as you the reader are thinking. But there it was.

The sensation stayed with me. I was pastoring a church on the western edge of metro New Orleans, owned a couple of degrees from our seminary, and had been president of the national alumni. None of these  qualified me to be president of such an august educational institution of course. I was a lifelong pastor and happy to be so. Church pastors and seminary presidents are different animals, although they serve the same Master.

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Source: Church Leaders