Since seeking God's will is not a science that operates within predictable parameters, it can be difficult to discern whether or not we are progressing in the right direction.
God asks us to wait for His answer, and well we should. But He can also use the fog of uncertainty in a corrective manner to rechart our course, rethink our request, or examine our relationship with Him.
I have found several common factors that can obscure the unfolding of His plan.
The eighty-first Psalm is a sad commentary on "what might have been" for the nation of Israel. God desired to supply their many needs in a bountiful way (vs. 16) but the people cut off His supply through their rebellious, disobedient spirit. (vs. 11-13) If there is an area of willful, stubborn disobedience in your life that you refuse to address, then knowing God's will probably will remain perplexing. Remember, His plan always revolves around the quality of your relationship with Him.
The Christian life is a journey of faith. It's impossible to please God apart from confident trust in His ability. (Hebrews 11:6) If you ask for guidance, don't doubt for a moment that God will give it. He bestows it "without reproach" (James 1:5), without condemnation for past failures or mistakes. If you are unsure that God will direct you, then why ask Him? (We all have passing moments of doubt. James speaks here of persistent unbelief in God's ability.)
God cannot and will not be manipulated. In 1 Samuel 13, Saul failed to wait on Samuel as the prophet had instructed and instead took matters into his own hands by offering a sacrifice. His manipulative actions forfeited his kingship over Israel, and God selected David as his successor. When seeking Christ's direction, refuse the temptation to "help God" resolve the issue. Take only those measures that are within proper ethical and biblical guidelines. You never lose by waiting on God to supply your need.
James tells us that if we ask God for an answer without the right motivation, then our petitions will fall flat. (James 4:3) You may seek God for the right private school for your child to attend. If your purpose is for your child's spiritual and educational well-being and it fits within your budget, then your motivation is probably pure. But if keeping up with the Joneses who also send their child to private school has seeped into your thinking, then you need to reexamine your motivation. Ask the right thing for the right reason. Filter everything through a quality, daily relationship with Christ.
In guidance there is always our part and God's part. Occasionally, we confuse the two (this is where manipulation comes in), but in most cases common sense is the rule. If we need a job and sit at home while we wait for the president of some corporation to find our unlisted number and call, we have failed to fulfill our responsibility for diligence and initiative. (Proverbs 19:15)
Rejecting the Channel or Means
You have a financial need. You've prayed about it and asked God to supply the funds. A former business associate calls you at home and informs you he is sending you a check for just the amount you need. Instead of celebrating, however, you decline the offer because it is the same individual who once maliciously damaged your reputation at the office. Pride prevents you from accepting the channel of God's supply. Remember the story of Naaman the leper? King of Aram, Naaman came to Israel to visit the prophet Elisha. He had heard of Elisha's miracles through one of his slaves and came to him for a cure. When Elisha prescribed that Naaman dip himself seven times in the Jordan River for a remedy, the king was outraged. Only on the wise advice of one of his servants did he obey Elisha and see his leprosy instantly removed. Pride had brought Naaman perilously close to rejecting God's plan. Keep an open mind as to how God will answer your requests since His resources are infinite.
Redirecting Our Life
At times, the way seems to be dark even when we have done all we can with the right motive, waiting patiently for God's response. If this is the case, consider that the Lord may be redirecting your life. The job you really wanted just never seems to materialize because God is orchestrating a career change for you that will place you around people who nurture your faith. The apostle Paul had tried to take his missionary team into parts of Asia Minor, but the Holy Spirit prevented him. (Acts 16:6-7) Why? God had plans for Paul in Greece and ultimately Rome. And it appears that Peter was used by the Lord to minister the gospel in Asia. (1 Peter 1:1)
IN TOUCH MINISTRIES®, ITM, Inc.
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