How Do You Determine The Will Of God?

March 8, 2007

prayer6.jpgHow do you determine the will of God in your decision making process? I am not talking about the decisions where there is a clear directive from God; that should have no question attached to it. But what about those decisions as to a career change, whether to leave or stay with a particular situation or any other decision you are facing where you really would like to have a word from God on the matter.

Some folks use the “fleece” method where they place certain things before God as Gideon did and ask God to take action. I have always thought that Gideon’s actions were more evidence of a lack of faith, than faith. Especially when comparied to men like Abraham who had a word from God and then just took action.

Others ask for different kinds of “signs”, for God in some way to show His will in a matter. And I could go on and on about those who just open the Bible and let their finger fall on a verse and say that God is speaking to them through random acts of chance.

When you have a “thus sayeth the Lord” on a matter it is not hard to know His will. But in those other situations; that is where I need help. I am praying for a young lady who is in a dead end job, low pay and no relief in site who would love to find another job, but nothing seems to be coming her way. Now a co-worker had been diagnosed with cancer and has confided in her, and now she is questioning if she should leave her present job at all. She now is beginning to think that maybe God has her there for a reason.

I am also praying about a situation in my own life and seeking the direction of God. As I pray I am coming to the conclusion that maybe in some things in this life our choice of direction really doesn’t matter to the Father at all. If our hearts belong to Him and if it is our heart’s desire to please Him, then He will use us in whatever direction we choose. The real key I believe is checking our motives. Is it really our desire to please Him.

So what do you think? How do you determine the will of God in your own life?



  1. I think if we are seeking His will we won’t have to worry because God gets His will done. It is usually only after the fact, even when we feel a strong directive, that we really can say God’s will was done.

    Esther is only Esther because we know the story. No strong directive told her to go try to be queen, no God’s voice saying this is what I want but in the end Mordecai says maybe you are queen for a moment like this.

    I know exactly what you are saying and this is basically where I have come to, maybe I am right but I can always be wrong.

  2. Lee,

    You have opened up a can of worms for me in this post. So, if you want to hear something that makes sense, read every body elses responses. And if you want to avoid a bunch of subjectivity, dont read mine any further.

    I am with you on the Gideon thing. I am not convinced that he offers us a worthwhile model, though God did respond to it. I have moved on what I thought was God’s guiding and found utter frustration several times in my life. In fact, even now, I am in a world of pain over trying to follow him. My professional life is an utter failure. I do not like to publically disclose all the details, but since you told the story of the young lady you are praying for, I feel it is appropriate. And I have no way out. I am stuck in failure. I figure this is where I am going to be for the forseable future.

    As you can imagine, this puts my personal life in crisis. And I have spent many hours in depression and anger and prayer. My favorite Psalm is 88 -the psalm of “no hope” and though I have not suffered to the degree of the psalmist, I also question God with that kind of tenacity. Is he my friend or a bully?

    I have been to the prophet too. We actually had a man who fancied himself a prophet to come prophecy for our little worship cell group of excons a couple of years ago. I think the prophet had a “God complex” actually. And none of what he prophecied came true.

    I heard God speak to me a couple of times in my life. In both cases it seemed to offer clear direction at the time. But he has not seen fit to speak to me again in a long time. But I did receive another seemingly very clear prophetic nudge several years ago which I pursued with my education and with many thousands of dollars of borrowed money that fizzled out like chaff in the fire.

    I found myself down and out and all my dreams in ruins a couple of years ago. I was walking the street and having one of those heart to heart screams at God where I told him what I really thought of him, which was a response to the way he had been treating me. I said things mortals should quake saying to him. And I did. I felt purged and scared when I was done. Real scared. But I did not take it back. I decided I should not talk to God that way on a regular basis, but if he wanted me to be real with him, then this was it.

    Looking back on that day, I see that in a few weeks time, I was introduced to the poverty culture in a new way. I met a poor black woman whose car was broke down at the car wash. When I offered to help, I became part of her story and she part of mine. I did not have money or expertise to help with. And I was only prepared to stay with her until we found a resolution together. We did -several hours later I got a chain and pulled her dead car home behind my truck. Now, I was in her home. And we had a dead car to worry about -TOGETHER. We prayed on it.

    She became my friend and I hers. She is in worse shape than me, always has been always will be. But I was with her. And I convinced some of the rich folks at my church to help us pay to get the car fixed. Then my friend David Shelburne, another white boy minister type whose life has been busted all apart, came and helped me tow this poor black womans car out into the country to a busted down and out mechanic who patched it together for another week.

    We repeated that trip to the mechanic so much that he is now in our circle of poor friends.

    A Bible study grew out of that friendship -something I loath by the way is viewing strangers as potential Bible studies. It is so CoC -in a negative utilitarian way if you think about it. But we did start one -at her request. Her neighbor lady got involved, and soon the poor black neighbor lady was going to church with me regularly.

    The poor black neighbor lady lives in low income housing that is regularly in jeopardy of eviction because she can not always afford her rent etc. But she takes in poorer people and keeps them in her house and feeds them her food practically every night! She has NOTHING to give and yet she gives EVERYTHING she has DAILY! Do you do that? Is there a guest bed in you house? How often is if slept in, and by whom? Don’t feel that bad, it is like that at mine too. But not this lady.

    Me and a couple of other ministers convinced the church to buy this poor black neighbor lady a car. She has wheels now and a job. And her house has a guest nearly every night. And she is short on rent again this month, and I am worried about it again today. We have asked the church for soooooo much already, when will my rich white friends become weary and start to shun us? My poor friends face that question every day, but they are sooooo thankful for every bit of help they have received so far. And they are ashamed to ask again.

    And I am deeper and deeper into these lives every day. And I look back on the day I visited with a counselor from Harvard Law about going to school there. I had thought that was the path God was blessing me with. IT had seemed so clear -then. I invested all my money in it expecting to make it back in a heartbeat upon graduation. God was conquering my giants! It seemed I could not loose. And then when the time came to go there, the wheels came off the bugy. I crashed. In Lubbock TX of all hell holes!

    I am in debt up to my eyeballs. And I look to these two ladies and the GROWING family of poor people who have begun flocking to our church in large part as a result of the ministry that was born the day I met that woman at the car wash, and I know that I will always have a place to lay my head and a meal to eat in this town. It may not look like much, but there is love there like you cant know until you give up your dreams.

    My poor black woman told me the other night that I am her son now. Her words, not mine. I got my ghetto pass brutha! We got a thang!

    In the past two years I have read a couple of books that really greased the wheels for this new direction -theologically speaking- for me. The first is called, Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire -by Walsh and Keesmaat. And recently I found a short EASY read called, The Irresistible Revolution: Living As An Ordinary Radical -by Shane Claiborne. In these books, I see that my previous dreams of life had actually served demonic forces that rule the world, promising me wealth, safety and comfort while robbing poor people of any hope. As Claiborne puts it, the world cannot afford the American Dream.

    And though I was poverty concsious before, now I depend on those stuck in it for my life. That is a different level of community. I grew up in a culture that talked about “borrowing a cup of sugar” from a neighbor, but never actually did it. We all had our own sugar already. But I have been to the poor side now and I have actually seen that happen with my own eyes.

    I guess, Lee, my thought is that rather than knowing where God is leading based on signals, I have found that he is telling a story. It is a story of his creation living under his rule. When I try to tell a story about me, it runs into trouble. (Makes me wonder what will come of this post) And my story may turn out to crash and burn, but his will prevail. And I have had to try to come to terms with that personally.

    I do not write any of this prescriptively. I merely write it descriptively. For I do not have a prescription to offer. But I will say that failure is an option, and the young lady you are praying for should not dismiss it out of hand.

    Many blessings…

  3. Darin, I think we are much on the same track. Thanks as always for your thoughts.

    Mike, Let me begin by saying that you my brother are such a breath of fresh air. Your “laid bare” approach to life and your openness are such an encouragement to me. Thanks so very much for sharing your story. Life can be so frustrating looking for signals and signs. And by the way, congrats on your “ghetto pass”. If I ever get to Lubbock or you make it to Nashville, we got to hook up!

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