I use it myself. As my husband reminds me repeatedly, “Who are you to critique? This is your language.” And it is. But somehow I feel more comfortable when I say, “God told me...” than when, say, you say it.
Gulp. I said it. I am more confident that I have ‘heard’ correctly, than I am that you have ‘heard’ correctly. Hubris? Perhaps. After all, you can’t really go any bigger than saying, “God told me so.” And indeed, there have been some who seemed more psychotic than holy as they’ve ‘heard’ God tell them all sorts of wacky things. Like the love-crazed young man who sat in my office confidently telling me God had told him a particular woman at church was named to be his wife. “But she says you are a stalker!” I said. Reminding him that she was close to getting a legal remedy to keep the guy at bay.
“Hearing God” came up this past week when the Vatican news service reported that Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, resigned because “God told me to.” According to that report, Benedict believed God told him to live a life dedicated to solitude, prayer and silent reflection.
The “God told me” story was immediately refuted this week by Benedict’s personal secretary noting God said no such thing. “The entire story was made up – from alpha to omega.” (Oh those funny Vatican puns!).
I was sad the story was fabricated. Because regardless of how much I doubt whether you or I correctly heard God, I do believe that God still speaks. Now. Today. Last week. I believe God speaks to the small community of past-popes just as much as God speaks to us rank and file followers.
But I’ve also learned throughout the years the importance of holding the “God told me” humbly. Openly. Testing what I’ve “heard” against other good teaching, the sense of the faithful, and, ultimately, whether the “heard word” gives more honor to Jesus or to myself.
As for trusting whether you’ve heard the word correctly, let’s just say, I’m working on holding that loosely too; God’s telling me to lay off the judgments.