Key lessons learned about seeking God’s guidance. This post expands on the all-time most popular post on this blog “Discerning God’s Will: My 7-step process.”
After seeking God’s guidance and searching for his will more in the last few years than in all the decades of my adult life, I wrote about my process.
It was a simple post outlining seven steps I use. And it took off. For my little corner of the Internet, it was “viral.” It seems this topic is one we all wrestle with.
Here’s that post:7 steps for Discerning God’s Will
As I wrote that article, my family discussed what has bubbled to the surface, helping us to summarize and categorize what we’ve learned from Scripture and from the process of seeking God’s will.
Here are the top four takeaways from that discussion:
4 lessons learned about seeking God’s guidance
1. In the going, you learn more about how to go
My daughter said the advice that has had the greatest impact on her is the wisdom shared from studying Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s life was bathed in prayer, but he rarely ONLY prayed. Prayer was usually accompanied by action.
As we have helped her navigate choices, we first talk through road blocks or red flags. Once we determine there aren’t any worth stopping for, we’ve encouraged her to move forward, praying as she goes.
I say, “Pray it forward. In the going, you learn more about how to go.”
Her dad adds this, “God doesn’t confirm what you think; he confirms what you do.”
2. Clarity is not the goal
During our time of study on this subject, we heard a preacher tell a story:
A young man spent time serving in Calcutta, during which he had the opportunity to visit with Mother Teresa.
He asked her to pray that he would have clarity about his direction.
She said, “I will not do that. Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
The man questioned her, assuming she herself had gained clarity through her years of serving God as she served the poor.
She laughed at the idea:
“I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.”
This hit home with us.
We have finally embraced this reality: we rarely get clarity before we act.
Clarity is a grace and a gift when God gives it, but it cannot be a determining factor for acting or not acting.
The hard truth is this:
Clarity may be what we want,
but faith is what we need.
So we stopped praying for clarity when seeking God’s guidance and asked him to grow our trust — and with it, our confidence and courage to act.
And through that, we’ve discovered that sometimes clarity comes after we’ve taken a few steps.
3. Ease is not the determining factor
We also do not expect God’s will to line up with the easiest decision.
Although we assess road blocks and red flags as part of acting wisely, they don’t get the role of “determining factor.” In fact, we’ve learned firsthand that moving in God’s plan often means hardship ahead.
If we allow “easy” to dictate the choice, then when it’s no longer easy, we will second-guess the decision. That’s never helpful and rarely Spirit-inspired. In fact, in my experience — when the road becomes difficult and I want to give in — it’s usually the enemy who is whispering in my ear.
I wrote about one of our most God-ordained decisions that ultimately was more difficult than anything we had done.
4. Timing is everything
Last year, my husband listened to a sermon where the preacher concluded with this statement:
To God ~
time is nothing.
~ But ~
TIMING is everything.James Merritt
He shared the quote with me and then we shared it with our children.
Those nine words have informed our family’s thinking and invaded our conversations over and over.
We have a group texting chain that is often full of memes and gifs and quips related to this idea.
We love Princess Bride quotes, so you might even hear one of us tell another:
“Timing. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The truth is — it means way more than we can even comprehend.
We are learning to act in our time and trust in God’s timing.
I imagine this will be a lifelong process.
Point your compass North and just keep stepping
For the 7-step process or any of the other takeaways above to apply, you must already be pointed in the right direction.
God’s written Word about his will for life and godliness is our “North star.” (His will for you will never contradict his Word.) If you’re not pointing North seeking God in obedience to Scripture, you won’t discover the right direction for your life.
But if you’re pointing North, then step forward and keep stepping.
Need a little help…
Psalm 119 tells us that his Word is a “lamp to our feet.” It is Scripture that guides our steps. However, we must keep this in mind:
He promises a lamp
unto our feet,
not a crystal ball into the future.
~ Max Lucado
More Posts on God’s guidance
An index list of posts about seeking God’s will and trusting His timing.
Making Life & Words Count!