Discerning God’s leading is no easy matter. It seems to me to be a combination of prayer, affirmation, His Word, and Holy Spirit guidance. All too often we move before God has made clear to us what we are to do. We are an impatient people.
When we sense and hear God’s calling in our lives, we must be obedient to that call. Sometimes He calls us into a season of preparation without revealing the end game (so to speak). Frequently He calls us into unfamiliar territory in which we feel ill equipped. I think of Peter walking on the water, Abraham traveling to some unknown place, Joseph marrying Mary knowing what he knew.
God has a way of reaching into our lives and messing up our plans. I have said more than once, “I didn’t sign up for this!” Circumstances turn life in a direction that I didn’t want to go. Yet looking back, I see how God has used each of those difficult times to strengthen my faith and draw me closer to Himself.
The biggest obstacle to being Holy Spirit led and obedient to God’s call is our desire for control. Complete submission of our lives to Jesus is difficult to achieve. Dying to self and laying down our wants and dreams is very counter cultural. Telling God that you are willing to do whatever He asks and willing to go wherever He leads can be a heart stopping prayer; a leap of faith. And then you get to try to explain to others the path you are taking when you don’t fully understand the purpose yourself.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15 ESV)
A dear friend of mine likes to remind me that God will shine His flashlight on the path just in front of my big toe and ask me to take the next small step without ever revealing where this path is leading. He wants to know that I trust Him fully to lead and guide my life without questioning every step I take. He will test my faith to see if my actions line up with my words.
So if you are in a place where you desperately want to know what God’s will is for your life, ask Him. Be spending time with Him so that He can speak to your heart. Get in His Word. Read your Bible. He will meet with you there. Give it time. Sometimes we simply need to wait on the Lord; wait for His reply. Get godly counsel. Listen to what they have to say and test everything against God’s Holy Word. When He is ready for you to go, be ready and willing to move. It will never be convenient. Don’t expect His answer to line up with your wants, your comfort, or your plans. Be willing to lay all those aside.
God’s ways are the best ways. His plans are better for you than your own. Trade yours in. Buy from Him eternal treasure. Ask and He will give you wisdom. Then rest in Him. As you learn to hear His voice, you will grow in confidence and will be quicker to obey His calling.
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:8-10 ESV)
Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. Be encouraged. Press on.