Genesis Day 23: When God says go
“I think God is leading me to be a pastor” I informed my wife. Her response: “Funny, God hasn’t talked to me about it!”
Her next question: “So, how long has God been talking to you about this?” After a big gulp, I said, “About a year.”
Now, as an aside, here is a tip for husbands—don’t wait a year to tell your wife this kind of news.
But what do you do when you are trying to determine whether it is God’s voice, or simply those really old leftovers in the fridge that you ate last night, telling you do something crazy?
Before I suggest some steps to take when you think God is telling you to do something, let’s just look at the text.
God, chooses Abram, and tells this 75-year-old man to take his family and go. In fact, God promises to make a great nation out of Abram and his barren wife, Sarai, and bless them.
And Abram goes—amazing really.
My sarcastic nature thinks that in our day and age, we would have had this senior citizen committed for being “off his rocker”—he would not have made it down the driveway! But let’s push through my sarcasm.
Abram believes God—his faith is remarkable.
Notice how connected he is to God. Twice the text says he built an altar and offered praise and thanks and sacrifice to God. I don’t think this is some new behavior.
Abram lives as if he is connected to God—he lives as if he knows he is part of God’s Big Family.
Isn’t that what we have been reading in these early chapters of Genesis? All those lists of names have been telling us that we are connected. That we are part of God’s Big Family—and we are learning the Family Story.
You and I live as part of a larger-than-life story. We are part of God’s story.
Which brings me back to my suggestions for how to discern God’s will—how to follow God’s Holy Spirit. Here are a few key components:
Step 1: Have a relationship with God.
You cannot hear or follow someone you don’t know. We need to have a relationship with God. We see Abram’s relationship as he stops each step of the way and builds an altar.
Step 2: Know God’s Word.
We need to know what God has already done, and we need to understand what God has already said. That means we know our Bibles. God will never lead you contrary to His Word. He cannot contradict himself. It is not in His nature.
Step 3: Check Your Spirit.
Is the Holy Spirit compelling you? Or is it dissatisfaction with a present situation—a grass-is-looking-greener sort of feeling? There are times in the Bible when God says “flee”—but it has to do with sin—flee sin. Many times, though, he asks us to stay and labor in faith.
Step 4: Common Sense.
Please note this is step #4 and not #1. It made no sense for Abram to leave his well-established situation. There are times, however, God will lay something before you that makes perfect sense. “Should I buy this thing?” Well, can you afford it? If not, it’s probably not God’s will for you to have the thing!
Step 5: Get Counsel from the Saints.
Don’t go it alone on big decisions. It makes sense to pray with others and seek their advice. In fact, God’s Word recommends this in many places such as Proverbs 12:15.
Step 6: Signs.
God is sovereign and if He can come to earth in the form of a child, He can control other things to happen; see Proverbs 16:9. I will tell you that, for me, this is a tough one. I can twist all sorts of circumstantial signs into justification for something I want. I always look to the 5 previous steps. Let me just be clear on this one. There is a difference between noticing signs around you and asking God for a sign. The former seems faithful to me, but that latter not so much. We are not to put God to the test. Sometimes I hear people say they just want a sign from God. The Pharisees used to say that to Jesus all the time.
Tomorrow I will be posting a fuller unpacking of those steps, with Scriptural reference if you would like to go deeper; stay tuned! (Update: you can now read that here.)
Back now to Abram. I am not sure what he all used to have such faith in God. He is one of the Heroes of Faith. I know that for me, I want to have such faith… and a process helps.