I do not mean by this that He speaks to us and calls us in the precise way which I shall describe later; His appeals come through the conversations of good people, or from sermons, or through the reading of good books; and there are many other ways, of which you have heard, in which God calls us. Or they may come through sickness and trials, or by means of truths which God teaches us at times when we are engaged in prayer; however feeble such prayers may be God values them highly. (Teresa of Avila: Second Mansions)
Teresa says we can hear God in the Second Mansions, although not as precisely as we can in the later mansions. She provides several examples of how God speaks to us:
- Conversations with good people.
- Reading good books.
- Sickness or trials.
When God communicates to us through multiple sources (e.g. sermons, people, books) we can see patterns develop and gain confidence He is speaking directly to us about a specific issue. Additionally, God resurfaces similar themes throughout our life to reinforce his messages and give us direction on the next steps he wants us to take.
I could give considerable space on how to sort whether or not the messages we receive are from God. This advice is usually counter-productive. We can spend too much time on the “rules” for hearing God and too little time on the listening. God is capable of communicating to us in a way we can understand and we are able to hear him: “My sheep hear my voice”.
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