Have you ever desired to hear from God directly on something you were facing? Perhaps it was something of such great importance that you wanted to hear directly from him because you feared making a mistake. Did you listen and actually follow his directions or do you think he just didn't bother with you? He actually answers us every time, it's just that most of the time we don't like the answer.
In the book of Jeremiah we see our human tendency to not really want an answer from God. To make a long story short, the king of Babylon had taken most of Jerusalem into captivity but left an Israelite in charge to give guidance to the remnant. Some other Jews, who had fled to other countries, came back and killed this man, even though he was a good man. The few Jewish solders who were left tracked down and killed the murderers. Now they had a problem; what were the Babylonians going to do when they discovered the man they had put in charge was killed?
This is when they turned to Jeremiah and asked him to inquire of the Lord for them, as to whether they should stay in this promised land given to them by God or hide away in Egypt. They said to Jeremiah:
“May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the LORD our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 42:5-6)
Sounds great, right? Sounds great if you think God is going to respond with what you want. The problem comes when God doesn't want you to do what you want to do. They really wanted to go to Egypt but God told them to stay. He promised them if they stayed he would bless them, protect them and they did not need to fear the Babylonians. It really wasn't what they wanted to hear. In fact, he told them if they didn't stay they would be killed in Egypt. He told them the thing they feared happening where they were would follow them to Egypt and it would happen there. Can you guess how they reacted? Of course their fear won out and they blamed the messenger:
“You are lying! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.” (Jeremiah 43:2-3)
Yes, this is our typical response and is the reason we think we don't hear from God when we inquire of him. What a foolish people we are. We tend to always allow our fear to speak louder than anything God has to say. We don't really want to know God's will, we only want him to rubber stamp what we have already decided to do. When he responds to us we twist and turn what he says so that it ends up being in our favour and we convince ourselves it is what he wants.
If we really want to hear from God we need to throw out all our ideas, thoughts and opinions and come to him with a blank sheet for him to write on. Before we approach him with our inquiries we should ask ourselves what is more important to us, what we want or what God wants? Don't answer that too quickly. You may even want to take a few days to ponder the question. We have a long list of our own plans, ideas, dreams, desires, but to truly follow Jesus we have to die to all of these, to what we think is logical and instead go with the direction of the Spirit.
Of course it only made sense that these solders would flee to Egypt with the remnant of their nation and try to protect them from harm. But God does not work according to our logic. He told us through the prophet Isaiah that our thoughts are not his thoughts. He doesn't operate according to our logic or feelings. He operates according to his unfailing love, his grace and his power. So if you are asking God for direction today make sure you are actually willing to be obedient to it. "Not my will but yours be done."