Ever find yourself searching the skies for an IM from heaven? Maybe a brief personal note from the Master of the Universe scribbled in the orange corner of the sunset sky?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about discerning God’s will.
Like … how do we do it? How do we know which decision is the right one when there are so many that assault us daily? How can we be sure we’re on the path He prepared for us, especially when we encounter roadblocks and potholes? Are they there to detour us or for us to climb over?
In my recent study of Genesis, I noticed that Abraham faced some of the same challenges I do in trying to discern and follow God’s will. But he seemed to have a better handle on it than I do.
The first amazing thing is that when God said go, Abe went (Gen 12:1). He picked up his family, tents and belongings that had been his home for his entire life and without argument or what we would call human reasoning, just up and took off. Where, he didn’t even know at first. He just marched on in the direction that God’s supernatural finger pointed until He said “Stop!” (Gen 15:7)
Once he finally arrived where he didn’t know he was headed, God gave an entire country (Canaan) to Abraham at age 75 (Abe’s age, not God’s), but he still had to work for it. It didn’t come gift wrapped with a big red bow. It wasn’t a huge empty plot of beautiful, endless pastureland and bubbling streams just waiting on him to move in. There were people living there – big people with big swords and big egos who didn’t want to leave.
Abraham not only had to conquer all his enemies, but he had to plant crops and dig well to sustain his flocks. Work, work and more work.
And there were problems. Major problems.
Shortly after he arrived in this promised land, a famine struck, forcing Abe to leave his barely-broken-in-homestead and flee to the country next door (Egypt) just to be able to keep his family alive. Then after he got kicked out of Egypt, he became a nomad in the desert until finally, many years later, he was able to return to once again stake his claim in the land that God gave him.
I don’t know about you, but if I was Abe, after all that trouble, I might have wondered if I’d misheard the Almighty. If God had really given me this property, why in the world was I having such difficulty living on it? Shouldn’t following God’s will be easier?
And there’s the rub, isn’t it. Shouldn’t following God’s will be easier?
I don’t think Mother Teresa would have answered yes. Or Martin Luther King. Or Corrie Ten Boom, or a thousand other godly men and women pushing their own personal boulders out of the road God set before them. The obstacles were not their nemesis. They were there by design.
God doesn’t promise us red bows and smooth sailing in following His will. I wish He did. But His word makes it pretty clear that it’s actually the opposite.
Abraham hung in there despite all the thousands of time he must have wanted to turn his donkeys around and head back to the comfort of his roots. And so must I. Even when I can’t see the next turn in the road because of the thick fog. Or even when the pavement disappears into a sink hole.
Because that’s what this faith journey is all about.