Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Ten years or so ago I was asked to fill in the blank to a question along this line: "If you weren't a lawyer, what would you be?" At the time, I filled in the blank with the word "pastor" -- although I never thought for a second that one day I actually would be a pastor! In fact, my friend Jon remarked at the time that my answer to that question was one of the most ridiculous things he had ever heard.
Ten years later and, well, I am a pastor. And Jon? Jon and his son rarely miss a Sunday at Heartland Church! I guess God showed us! Both of those things might be considered at least minor miracles.
During those ten years there were several times when God's direction for my life was unmistakable. After praying about my purpose for literally months -- and getting no answer -- I just decided to take the plunge and see what happened. One day I told Pastor Dan I was ready to get more involved in the church, and when I did a funny grin appeared on his face. As it happened, Dan was already thinking about asking me to serve as an Elder. I guess God had been speaking to both of us!
The decision to serve as a Pastor came just as easily. Despite my answer to that question years earlier, the first time I really thought becoming a pastor was a possibility was the day I was asked to serve. It was a shock to say the least.
Pastor Dan needed an Executive Pastor to serve along side him, and mentioned his need at a gathering of pastors from various churches -- I guess to see if anyone knew of a qualified candidate. During a time of prayer, one of the other pastors told Dan that the person he needed to serve in that capacity was already at this church! That person, of course, turned out to be me. And, I really didn't have to give the offer much thought -- my wife Pam decided for me!
It probably comes as no surprise that I like it when God's direction is clear. Who wouldn't? But, unfortunately it is not always that easy. In fact, rarely is discerning God's direction for my life all that clear.
If you are at all like me, you probably find that God usually speaks to you in whispers -- and NOT through a loudspeaker. It is what is sometimes called the "still small voice" or "gentle whisper." Elijah heard it.
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:11-13
In the end, discerning God's will for your life is an extremely personal thing. Other people can certainly speak into your life from time to time, and wise counsel can be extremely important. See Proverbs 15:22. But really understanding where God is taking you requires prayer and meditation on God's Word. It takes a certain discipline and a certain confidence.
The discipline includes the ability to separate out what you want from what God wants. Many men and women who have been lead astray have also used "God's will" to justify their personal ambitions. God and your flesh rarely desire the same thing.
Confidence rises from the quality of our faith and our knowledge of the teachings of the Bible. It reveals itself in the strength to carry out what we know to be God's will. The Bible doesn't always tell us what God's will is for us personally, but it does tell us what God's will is not. God just isn't going to lead you to do something that is inconsistent with the Holy Scripture -- and particularly with Christ's teachings in the New Testament.
I guess that God speaks to us in whispers in part to force us to work on our spiritual growth. People are funny -- they just don't tend to learn when things come too easily.
What is God whispering to you?
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