Often times when we are trying to discern the will of God our inclination is to wait. Hold tight. Sit still. Do nothing. Maybe we are freaked out that we will make a wrong decision or perhaps we are waiting for a bush to spontaneously catch fire and tell us what to do, but until we are 100% certain we aren’t budging. I think that oftentimes what we need to do is exactly the opposite. Step out in faith and trust God to either give us favor or close a door.
I think of the computers that are on treadmills and exercise bikes at the gym. The screens stay blank until you start pedaling. You can stand there all day pushing buttons, trying to start a program, but until you start to power it with movement, there is nothing on the display. I think that oftentimes God’s will is powered by motion. When we step out in faith, guided by the instruction He has already given us in His Word, often that is when we begin to get readouts. Stand still for too long and it’ll go blank.
I’m all for waiting on the Lord, taking time to pray, seeking wise counsel, asking God for a sign. But as I read scripture I see a whole lot of stepping out in faith with pretty low levels of certainty as to the outcome. Paul would set out for one city or seek to go to another country with little more than a desire, a hunch. He knew the gospel would “work” in one place as well as another and I don’t see him waiting for a “thus saith the Lord” before moving on. Every once in a while something special would lead him, like a dream, but most often he seemed to follow his gut. Sometimes it worked, other times he got shutdown. Big time. Are we to think he was out of sync with the will of God? If he was, than I’m in big trouble!
I think that it’s possible to miss out on God’s will for our lives because we are sitting on the couch waiting for it to be handed to us on a silver platter instead of getting out and moving towards it. In Genesis 24 Abraham charges a servant with finding a wife for his son Isaac. He had the fate of the entire Jewish nation on the line. No pressure or anything. He could have been seriously stumped by the assignment. Sat at home praying for God to give him a vision of the woman he was to find. Or lead her to him. Instead he got moving. And after he found the perfect bride for Isaac he praised God with these words:
Genesis 24:27 And he said, “Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”
The key to me is the phrase, “being on the way.” Even though he wasn’t certain who he was looking for, he got moving. He started mashing on the pedals and trusted God to guide his steps. He didn’t know which girl he was looking for, but He knew what country he was supposed to start looking in, so he headed there. And God, in His providence, brought him straight to Rebekkah. The screen flickered to life only after he had been putting one foot in front of the other in the dark. I think in our times of uncertainty we should follow suit.
We might not know where He wants us to be ultimately, but we can step out in faith towards what might be His will. Will we take wrong turns? Come to confusing forks in the road? Get turned around? Probably. But I believe that God is capable of using these to bring us to where He wants us. Remember, it was not being able to get into Asia that ultimately brought Paul to Philippi. Looking back, I can say for certain that God has lead me, even though many times I set out in a fog of uncertainty with little more than a sanctified hunch guiding my voyage.
Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.