FROM BURNING BUSHES to bright stars, God has been known to make it very clear which way people should go. At least, on occasion. For many, however, “finding the good way in which they should walk” (1 Kings 8:36) is much more of a muddle.
I suspect the reason for that is God knows that once we think we understand where we are supposed to be headed, we are likely to dash off on our own, rather than keeping in step with Him. He is more interested in our getting there together with Him than our running ahead and getting things done for Him.
Even one of the crystal-clearest times in my life when I knew without a doubt that God had spoken did not unfold effortlessly and easily. The way ahead turned out to be more of a bread crumb trail than a well-lit highway.
It started back in England, at a time when life was good. Young kids, fulfilling job, neat church, great friends. But I started to feel restless, like God had something more in store. I prayed for direction for some time without any answer, until I was reading the Gospel of Matthew one day. This verse jumped out at me:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matt. 7:7).
It seemed to me that here was a three-step process for finding my way to what God had for me. So I asked Him to give me an address.
The next morning, I received a letter from a missionary leader with whom I’d some interaction, asking me to consider joining his organization to start a new communications ministry. Needless to say, that seemed like more than a coincidence.
But it wasn’t a slam dunk. The “seeking out” process took more than a year, involving family, friends, and our church. Leaving the country and a paying job to go work with a “faith” mission seemed a bit of a stretch to many—me included—but over time came a consensus that, yes, God was in this.
Then came the “knocking.” Even though we believed we had found where we should be, we had to gain entry, as it were. That involved all the logistics that would open the door—applications, documents, fundraising. It all took another year or so, during which time God was kind enough to keep encouraging me to hang in there; one time I drove several hundred miles to visit friends, and at their church the pastor spoke on Matthew 7:7.
Looking back, this slow unfurling of guidance served two purposes. First, it caused me to press in to God to discern the next steps. And it also gave me a deep confidence that this really was God, not just a momentary flash I could dismiss. I needed this assurance to fall back on when, after the first flush of faith passed, things got hard.
Ask, seek, knock isn’t the only way of guidance, of course, but maybe it could help you in discerning the way ahead. Ask for an address, seek it out, and knock for the door to be opened to you.
Photo by Glenna Barlow on Foter.com/CC BY-NC-ND