I’ve thought a lot about Abram/Abraham. He is an amazing man of God. Think about him for a minute. Can you imagine leaving your family, your friends and your livelihood on the strength of a…of a what? See, that’s my problem right there. The Bible says that God appeared to Abram and told him to leave everything he knew. Well, for the most part, I know that people don’t see God these days, but I hear people say pretty often that God has told them to do this or that thing. If you ask these people if they heard an actual voice, they will say they didn’t hear an audible voice (because we have medication for people who hear voices that nobody else hears, right?). These people will say that they had an impression or a thought and they knew it was “God’s Voice”. My question is, “How did they know?”
OK, OK, I know, if the impression is to buy a lunch for the homeless guy on the corner or to sponsor a missionary trip, that makes total sense. But what do you do when that impression is to quit your job? or sell your house and move into a trailer? or anything else that doesn’t seem to make sense? How do I know that it’s God telling me to do that thing? Maybe I’ve just lost my mind.
I have to say that, in retrospect, I have seen God’s leading in my life. But, while I’m in the midst of day-to-day life, I can’t say that I feel with any certainty God is leading in my life. I’m not saying that I don’t KNOW with every fiber of my being that He’s there; I believe that He is always with me and leading me. But sometimes I don’t feel it, and sometimes, I’m not sure that I’m following His leading. And that’s my point. How do I know that I am doing what God wants me to do?
Some of you will remember the slogan of the ‘70’s – “If it feels good, do it!” I hear people who apply that theory to finding the will of God. You’ll know that you are walking with God when your path opens up, and it’s clear sailing. There are others who say just the opposite: If you run into one roadblock after another, you must be in God’s will because Satan is trying to side track you. So…which is it?
Last May, my family and I planned a trip to go visit my brother and his family up near Ft. Worth for Memorial Day. My son was going to preach in my brother’s church. In preparation, I took my car in to be checked over for the trip. The mechanic calls and says that there is something major wrong, but he can’t figure it out. The car was all taken apart and wouldn’t be ready in time for our trip. We decided to rent an SUV and go on with the trip. Thursday afternoon, I picked up the car. It was soooo nice!
We were leaving on Friday afternoon. I needed to do a bunch of stuff before we left, so I was out running errands in the morning. One of the first things I did was to take some stuff here to the church so that it would be there for Sabbath. I pulled up, grabbed the stuff and my church keys and ran into the building. I dropped the things I had brought, wrote a quick note, and ran back to the car…only to find the driver’s side window bashed in and my purse gone. A lot of you have probably had similar experiences and can remember that initial feeling of complete and total disbelief. Followed almost immediately anger, frustration and panic… I know, guys, that doesn’t seem such a big deal, but my purse was BRAND NEW!! No, really, the actual purse was the least of my worries. I carry everything in my purse – checkbook, credit cards, cell phone, cash (thankfully not much), my social security card and both of my sons’ cards as well, my medication, spare car keys, library cards, and, horror of horrors, my make-up!
The point of this whole story is that my first thought was, “God doesn’t want us to take this trip.” And my second thought was, “Satan doesn’t want us to take this trip.” Or, maybe it was neither. Maybe, it was just one of those random happenings with no cosmic importance attached to it.
So, where does that leave us on the big decisions like jobs, houses, and marriage? I’ve met people who have prayed for help and wisdom and received amazing answers to their prayers. They’ve asked for a sign and received an unmistakable, undeniable sign from God. Others have turned to the Bible and God has led them to the exact scripture that they need to read at that moment. What a blessing! I have to admit that I can’t think of any times that I have experienced such concrete information. And, as I think of it, I think that finding the will of God is more of a relationship issue than anything else. What I mean is, I can’t go along following my own way until I think I need God’s help. I can open my Bible over and over again, and I can read a bunch of verses/chapters, but I don’t think my answer will be there. Especially if I haven’t been reading my Bible every day to begin with.
Abraham had that kind of relationship with God. He left everything he knew because God asked him to. He didn’t even know where God was taking him! Abraham knew the sound of God’s voice (whether or not it was audible to anyone else). Even so, Abraham had a couple of fairly significant lapses of faith. Even though he talked to God, he struggled like we do. Abraham walked with God step by step, every minute of everyday, and he still made mistakes and had crises of faith. That gives me so much hope.
I want to learn to recognize the sound of God’s voice in my heart. I want to know His voice so well that whatever He asks of me, I will do it – without question. I want to recognize God’s leading in every situation, and not get God’s directions mixed up with Satan’s misdirections.