It seems like the more clear the voice of God is in our lives, the easier it is to discern His will. Often the question does not become “Was this God?” but “Am I going to obey?” At least, this has been true in my experience. The same is true of an image or a vision that the Lord might give us. Although the interpretation might not always be immediately obvious, the question is not, “Was this God?”

However, it is different when it comes to a fleeting impression. Not as much is written about impressions as there is about hearing the voice of God or seeing in the Spirit. That is, in my opinion, because it is more difficult to know what to do with impressions. How do we know that an impression is not just a figment of our imagination? How do we know that an impression is not just a fleeting thought?

What do I mean by an impression? Something gets impressed on our spirits often in the form of a mental image. We may see it; we may not. An open vision captures our attention. An image catches our attention. An impression comes and goes. Was it there? Was it not there? Did I just imagine that? Did I just think that? Where did that come from? It doesn’t linger and so we can’t fixate on it. Most of the time we can’t even seem to bring it back.

Why am I writing about this? I think many of us get impressions all the time and we don’t know what to do with it. I think that when God really wants to get our attention, He has ways of doing that. However, there are times when we can miss His voice when we dismiss those subtle impressions. It is like the subtleties in a conversation. The trained ear picks up an inflection or tone of voice that means something that can easily be missed by the untrained or inattentive person. Sometimes it is a facial expression or sense we have in a conversation that means something. It’s that momentary glance that is significant.

Don’t dismiss the fleeting impressions. Many times the impressions I receive are there for a split second. I rely on my God-given discernment whether I should attach importance to it. Sometimes it is combined with other sensations that I have come to rely on that let me know whether this is important and worthwhile following.

One time I had an impression that a colleague was not supposed to buy a house but to rent. Not wanting to tell my friend what to do, I kept quiet. The Lord stopped him in his car on the way out of the parking lot to return to my office because I had something for him. When he returned and asked me for the word, I told him the impression I had. This was his response: “This is what my wife has been telling me all along.” As it turned out, they only lived in their rented house for about 4 years until they relocated to a different part of the country where they bought a house. Learn to test out impressions.

By Ralph Veenstra