Last week I mentioned that I was trying to make a decision, but had no idea what God wanted me to do. A number of you gave me some excellent points to ponder, and I’ve been doing just that. Thinking back over all the hundreds of times God has clearly directed me, I’ve been trying to remember why I was so confident I was hearing his voice each time.
Sometimes knowing God’s will is obvious.
The Bible clearly lays out some dos and don’ts—do pray, do give to those in need, don’t steal, don’t lust after your neighbor’s wife. We don’t need to ask about things like this, we just need to obey.
Sometimes God speaks incredibly clearly.
I graduated with my science teaching credential in 1978, the year California passed Proposition 13. Prop 13 limited property taxes and, as a result, public school funding. Teaching jobs were very, very scarce. I applied to hundreds of schools, and got three interviews. Each time, I knew I wasn’t a good match for the position (two were working with “tough” older students at a continuation school and one was at an extremely legalistic church-affiliated high school). It took faith to tell the interviewers that I could not work at their schools. I really had no back-up plan.
Then I got a call from a Catholic high school I hadn’t applied to. I didn’t even know it existed! Another school had forwarded my resume to them, they liked what they saw, and asked me to come interview. And that’s when God showed up.
The interview was going really well when the principal asked me to describe my “philosophy of education.” I couldn’t do that now, but remember I was fresh from ed. school, and so I quickly listed off ten points. The principal’s jaw dropped. Then she pulled out the school’s ten point philosophy and turned it around so I could read it. With God’s inspiration, I had nailed each and every point!
Needless to say I was offered a job, and working there was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Sometimes God speaks more quietly, but confirms we’re hearing His voice.
In 1993 we were still living in California. A ministry we’d been helping had recently moved to Colorado Springs, and they wanted us to join them there.
At first, we laughed. What a crazy idea! We were living in an area with few believers, while the Springs is ministry central. They didn’t need more Christians!
Plus, Pete had an amazing arrangement with a software company. They paid him enough to support our family, but only expected one-quarter of his time. This allowed him to donate the other three-quarters of his time to various missions organizations. If he quit that job, we’d have to spend several years raising support before any of his time was available again.
And finally, houses in Colorado cost significantly less than houses in Silicon Valley. If we sold our house and moved, we’d never be able to afford to move back.
We were all set to just say no when the ministry leader we’d been serving asked us to pray about moving. How do you say no to that?
Now, I don’t believe in testing God. And I generally avoid “putting out a fleece” because it’s usually an excuse for not immediately obeying what we know we’ve heard. But in this case, we weren’t sure moving was God’s idea. We were willing to go—we just didn’t want to make a major mistake. So I prayed. I asked God that if this was His will, He would confirm it clearly three times in the next week.
I guess God thought a week was too long. I got six confirmations in three days!
Sometimes God doesn’t seem to have any opinion at all.
While He does always want us to ask first, sometimes God allows us to choose whatever option we like. Should Pete work at this software company or that one? God didn’t say either way, so Pete picked the one with better benefits.
After much reminiscing, here I am still wondering what in the world I ought to do. I haven’t received any clear answer to my questions. No miraculous signs have directed my decision. So… I’m going to finish out the year, giving it my best effort until the end of 2011. And unless I hear otherwise, that will be that.
What a relief.