(Continued from Part 1)
Unfortunately, even after being given these “signs” you are usually not 100% sure. There’s almost always some doubt that maybe you are misinterpreting things. Maybe you fear that what you thought was the sign was actually just a coincidence.
And making things even trickier is that your fears just might be accurate! Sometimes what you think is a sign is really just wishful thinking on your part. This is usually the case when it comes to dating. If I had a nickel for every time a person incorrectly thought God was telling them that they were supposed to marry someone, I wouldn’t need a job!
Now, many times, we believe we must have been mistaken in believing God was giving us a sign because things didn’t turn out the way we thought they would. But, in reality, it COULD have been a real sign. God sometimes gives us signs to lead us in certain directions, not because that direction points to His desired destination, but because He wanted us to head that direction for a short amount of time, then go a completely different direction. This is something that I think most Christians aren’t aware of. I know I had to learn this the hard way.
For example, my girlfriend who had her cysts miraculously healed – I assumed that since it was God’s will for us to be in a relationship that it was also His will for us to get married. So, we started planning our wedding. A few months later, God led us to break up. Just because God was leading me in the direction of marriage, doesn’t mean that’s what He ultimately wanted. I learned a lot from that relationship and it was really important that it happen.
Imagine that you are stranded and need your friend to pick you up. You call him and he agrees, so he gets in his car and you’re giving him directions over the phone. You tell him to drive toward the church. Naturally, he assumes you must be at the church. But, before he gets to the church you tell him to take a right instead of a left which leads him right into the hospital parking lot where you are waiting for him.
You didn’t want to tell him you were in the hospital, because you knew he would get all worried, so you had him head to the church which you knew would take him right by the hospital.
God does this all the time. He leads us in certain directions and we make assumptions of what God’s ultimate plan must be based on them. But, then He has us take a right instead of a left and we end up somewhere completely different. There are many reasons He does this. Often times there was something along that path that He wanted us to learn. Sometimes He’s taking us to a place that He knows we would never go if we knew the final destination. Sometimes He just wants to see how much we trust Him, and other times He’s still planning on taking us to the destination we were heading toward, but He just needs us to take a detour first. I’m sure there are a ton more reasons, but you get the idea.
Remember, God doesn’t want us to know where He’s taking us. He wants us to be forced to trust Him. The journey, and what we learn along the way, is MUCH more important than the destination. The whole point is strengthening and testing our trust.
SO, HOW DO WE KNOW???
Okay, so if we aren’t 100% sure that the “sign, or leading, from God” is actually a “sign, or leading, from God”, how can we possibly be sure enough of what God’s will is to take action and make the right choice? What if we’re wrong? This is the situation we Christians find ourselves in many, many times. What do we do???
1st – Learn as much about God as you can
Well, first off, you need to be reading the bible and learning as much about God as you can. That’s why church, discipleship, daily bible study, and things like that are so important. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to recognize when things you feel God is leading you toward actually conflict with scripture.
For example, if you felt God was leading you to murder abortion doctors, it would be very beneficial to know that scripture says murder is wrong. Now, that’s not to say that God’s never instructed anyone to kill another person before, because He has. But, if you know that what you feel led to do would be an exception to scripture, you better wait for an EXTREMELY clear sign!
And you’ll learn that there are some things that God would NEVER ask you to do…like build an idol to worship, or put ANYTHING above God in your life. Ask yourself if what you feel led to do is consistent with the CHARACTER of God. And the closer you are to God, the more you’ll know His character.
2nd – Ask a more mature Christian
Talk it over with people who know more about God and the bible than you. No matter how much you study the bible and grow as a Christian, there will always be someone who knows more about the bible than you and there will always be someone who is closer to God than you are. Seek counsel from these people. They won’t always be right, of course, so you can’t just take everything they say as gospel, but they have knowledge and experience that you don’t and can give you some things to think about that you weren’t aware of.
3rd – Pray
And, hopefully it goes without saying that you need to spend a lot of time in prayer about it. When you spend time with God, God often speaks to you because you are close enough to Him to hear it and there aren’t as many distractions getting in the way.
But, even after all that…
…you STILL probably won’t be 100% sure. So, you have to decide if you’ve…
- done the best you can,
- earnestly sought God,
- and are COMPLETELY open to whatever God wants.
If you have, and you feel you have a reason to believe that God is leading you to do something, then you need to do what we talked about in the previous lesson.
You need to take a leap of faith!
You don’t need to be 100% sure of God’s will to take a leap of faith. If you have a decent reason to believe that God is leading you in that direction and there’s no reason to believe it’s against the character of God or with scripture, then that is enough. Take a leap of faith!
3. He won’t allow us to make the wrong choice
The great thing is that you don’t have to worry about being wrong! If you are truly seeking God’s will and are truly open to whatever that is, then God won’t allow you to make the wrong decision!
I’ll say that again! If you are truly seeking God’s will and are truly willing to do whatever his will is, then God won’t allow you to make the wrong decision!
If you take a leap of faith in the wrong direction, God will catch you and put you back on the ledge. When Abraham lifted his knife to sacrifice his son, Isaac, an angel stopped him and told him not to go through with it.
Maybe you decide to take a leap of faith and take that new job in a completely different state. If that’s not what God wants, He might close that door and the boss tells you that the person who you were going to replace decided to stay and thus the job offer is taken back.
Or you might decide to take a leap of faith and ask your girlfriend to marry you. But, before you can propose she breaks up with you, thereby closing that door. And a few months later you meet the woman God has for you.
The point is, you don’t have to worry about it. But, it does require trust. You have to trust that God will take care of everything and that as long as you are seeking God and following Him as closely as you can, you will end up right where He wants you to be.
And that’s the whole point! Again, just like the last lesson, it all comes down to how much you trust God. The more leaps of faith you take, the more your trust grows. The more your trust grows, the closer to God you get. And that’s what God wants more than anything.
But, exactly how sure do you need to be?
Now, I should point out that the more consistent with God’s character the direction in which you are considering taking a leap of faith is, the less sure you need to be. For instance, if you are considering selling your prized comic book collection so you can move to Africa and be a missionary, you can be pretty sure that this is God’s plan for you and that he’ll stop you if that’s not what He wants.
But, if you’re ALREADY a missionary and you’re considering quitting so that you can move back to America and start a comic book collection, you can be pretty sure that this is most likely NOT God’s plan for you and you should wait for a very clear sign that this is what God wants. There’s a good chance that you are mishearing God because you’re holding on too tightly to what YOU want and you’re not completely open to whatever God’s will is. If that’s the case, then you can’t be sure God will prevent you from making the wrong decision.
Look, the purpose of trying to be as sure as possible before taking a leap isn’t because you can’t trust God to do His part, it’s that you have to make sure you are earnestly seeking God and are honestly open to whatever His will is. Because, if you aren’t, God might allow you to make the wrong decision. After all, He has given you free will. And He won’t interfere with that unless you’ve given your free will completely to Him.
God is a just God and He will honor your free will, even when He knows your choices will only lead to destruction. But, if you have truly given UP your free will to God and committed to follow His will for your life, no matter what it is, and you are doing everything you can to seek God and get as close to Him as possible, then you have nothing to worry about. God will work in and around your life to make sure that you will get to where He wants you to be.
And that’s the main point of this whole post!
Of course, there’s also the possibility that God doesn’t care which decision you make because either way you’ll end up where God wants you. Or maybe God knows that you’re eventually going to make the right choice anyway, so He doesn’t need to intervene at all! But, that’s something you’ll probably never know. Well, till you get to heaven, anyway.
Oh, and by the way, you know where I personally learned this lesson? During the relationship with the girlfriend I thought I was going to marry. Had I not taken that leap of faith, I wouldn’t have learned it. I’d say that was worth the detour, wouldn’t you?