Since we talked briefly about “putting out the fleece” yesterday, I thought this might be a good time to discuss some alternate (and I think better) ways to seek God’s direction when we aren’t sure which way to go. There’s a fourfold process which I use, and I think it’s biblical.
First and most important, we should seek God’s will in his word. I realize that there are parts of the Bible which are hard to understand, but not the most important parts. One of my favorite quotes from Alistair Begg: "The plain things are the main things, and the main things are the plain things." This is why it’s vital that we read the Bible for ourselves, and we undertake a systematic plan to read it from cover to cover, not just the parts which we like.
I also acknowledge that there are plenty of issues which aren't directly addressed by Scripture, from ethical issues like cloning to personal major decisions such as which college I should attend or whom to marry. However, there are principles which we can draw from God’s word which can help us. There are plenty of Bible study helps out there, including (hopefully) this devotional, to aid us in incorporating these principles.
The second step should obviously be humble prayer. I should emphasize the word humble here. We can certainly ask God to show us the way to go, but we should preface every such prayer with “Whatever you want me to do or wherever you want me to go, the answer's ‘yes.’”
The third step is commonly neglected: godly counsel. The book of Proverbs says that “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed,” and there are several other verses which I could've picked. Notice, however, that I said godly counsel, preferably someone who's more spiritually mature than you. Even the strongest Christian has blind spots, and another pair of eyes can be invaluable. Also we have to avoid what I call the “Round Robin” approach. This means that you've already decided what you want to do, and go round to all your friends until you hear the advice you want to hear. Read 1 Kings 12:1-19 for a great example of this.
Finally, after you’ve taken all these steps, then do what you want! What do you desire to do? If you're sincerely submitting to God and trying to be obedient, then go forward and don’t worry about it. If you have a desire (within the clear parameters of his word), then it's quite likely--even probable--that this is a sign of where he wants to lead you. Augustine, one the greatest theologians ever, advised us to “Love God then do as you please.” Today’s passage tells us that our Father “guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” If you concentrate on being “just” and “faithful” then let God worry about your path. Quite liberating, isn’t it?
Let me submit a word about the more unorthodox means of God communicating with us. Some people might try something like lots, noting the fact that people in biblical times commonly used them. I can’t say that they're sinning with that, but I have to point out that once the Holy Spirit came in Acts chapter two, you never read about believers using lots again. Also, I believe that the Lord can (and sometimes does) speak to people in dreams or visions. However, I also believe that since we have God’s infallible word, we shouldn’t wait for them or depend on them.
Father, most of the time I know exactly what I need to do, but I just don’t do it. Please change me into the likeness of your Son. I want to think, act, and talk more like him.