Recognizing God’s Direction
Have you wondered about God’s will for your life specifically? How exactly does He direct the lives of those who love Him?
In the Old Testament we have several examples of God giving very clear directions to those who served him (e.g., Noah’s ark specifications, Joshua’s war details, Abraham being told he’d have Isaac, the Israelites movements). Just look at Numbers 9:15-23. A visual directive was given to the Israelites to show them when to stay and when to move! “Whenever the cloud lifted from above the sacred tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.” Numbers 9:17
Does God still direct His people today? Well, I haven’t seen any cloud that looked like fire giving me a signal of when to stay and when to go; however, I firmly believe the answer is YES! He does still direct His people and reveal His will to them!
Praying for and desiring God’s will in my life is something I started thinking about in my teens. I remember distinctly praying about what college to attend, whether or not to marry my husband, and my first real teaching job. I recall being in my apartment during my student teaching semester seeking God’s will for my next steps. I was searching for Scripture and found these.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.
1 Thessalonians 4:3
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
I realized that night that maybe I was over-complicating things! These verses spelled it out for me. I can look back on multiple events and decisions of my life when I prayed to know God’s will. Then I just proceeded with what I thought was best, asking for the door to close if it was the wrong thing to do. Time after time, I can look back and see how God taught me and used me in the places I ended up—my secular college, my marriage, my school, my next school, my next school, etc. I really believe that the Holy Spirit within us directs our steps, our words, and our decisions when we are seeking God’s will and wanting to please God with our life.
That’s how it works most of the time for me. I proceed and later I see how God was leading me! It’s cool looking back, but it’s scary as you’re taking a step of faith, hoping it’s the right one. Can you think of a circumstance in your life when that happened? Maybe you’re questioning whether to stay in your current role or move to another. How might you know where God needs you most? Sometimes we know for sure what God is directing. Sometimes He gives us the first direction, but we don’t know anything beyond that. Sometimes we only see quite a while after it’s happened.
The story of Joseph’s life is a perfect example of how God has a plan, but parts of it seem hard to believe! It seemed things were going terribly for him. He was in a pit, sold as a slave, wrongly accused, and imprisoned! However, each circumstance that seemed terrible at the time perfectly prepared him for some good parts of his life. He ended up being in charge during a very important time, and reconciliation with his brothers was even achieved! What looks hopeless in certain seasons of our life can actually lead to the good things God has in store in the future!
Remember me mentioning that sometimes we over-complicate knowing God’s will? I’d like to challenge you to come up with things that we know for sure the Bible tells us are things God expects (i.e., what we know are His will).
When we start searching God’s Word, some things are pretty clear! Cling to the Scriptures that clearly reveal God’s will, and enjoy the “hindsight is 20/20” moments you experience when you realize how God directed you!
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3