I was hanging out with a few friends this morning and we began to discuss the challenges of such worn out phrases like, “hearing God,” or, “moving in faith.” Sometimes God is abundantly clear. Both through the scriptures and the circumstances of life certain aspects of God’s will are very clear. Some are clear every day. It’s God’s will that I should be thankful and praise-filled. It’s God’s will that I should be of a humble, kind and generous heart. It’s God’s will that I should hunger and thirst after him and his kingdom. (NOTE: this is not a throwaway list. The seven things just mentioned are enough for a lifetime!)
There are challenges, however, decisions that involve choosing one thing and not choosing another: What employment does he have for me? Whom should I marry? Should we try to conceive a child? What color outfit should I wear today? From the everyday to the life-changing, we all recognize that some choices involve embracing one direction and choosing to walk away from another path. Both paths could even be “good.” But we must choose.
A second challenge: what about when life makes choices for us? What happens when circumstances and events wash over us like sea waves? Is God the author of every circumstance? Is the Adversary reaching out his hand to steal, kill or destroy? This, too, involves hearing from God. Do I stand against the tide or go with the flow?
Recently a friend of mine faced a decision that would involve a one-year commitment. “How will I know it’s God?” he asked. I suggested he enjoy the ride, and that he would know whether God was “in it” after the year was over. What--is that an unsatisfying answer? Try this one on for size: in the book of Genesis a teenager named Joseph suffered injustice and betrayal at the hands of some of his own bothers. Yet years later (perhaps 15 – 20 years later!) Joseph could say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
Are willing to walk with him day-to-day, moment-by-moment? Sure! But sometimes (just sometimes) we must we willing to wait years to figure out his purposes in our lives.