A long time ago I told God that I was his, and that I would follow him wherever he led me. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to decipher God’s leading!
Does that still small voice belong to God, or is that just my own will whispering loudly? Closed doors and open windows are often a sign but, sometimes, as you crawl through the window, you wonder if this is really the best way.
This last year has involved a great deal of listening and discernment as my wife Elaine and I felt led to transition our ministries. This involved relocating, starting a new pastoral ministry during COVID-19, finding a new home, facing the disappointment of some, but feeling God’s blessing through it all.
Today, though, I have confidence that God has called us to serve right where we are right now. I contrast this with the deep insecurity I had earlier in my life, trying to discern God’s will. I guess a lifetime of practice has helped me get better at this.
I’d like to share a few basic principles that I try to follow in discerning God’s will and hope that you find this helpful as you seek God:
- God’s ultimate guide is the Bible, and reading it daily keeps me in tune with what his voice sounds like. God will never ask me to do anything contrary to Scripture, and everything I need to know to make wise decisions is found in the Bible.
- Don’t allow fear of doing the wrong thing paralyze you. God can use us no matter where we find ourselves, and God can correct for our mistakes. I have taken a few wrong turns in my life, but I have found that God has a way of correcting things. And then I notice that my mistakes have taught me lessons that have put me in a better place to serve him. So was it really a mistake or his plan all along? Remember, a rudder can’t turn a ship that isn’t moving.
- I have not found it useful to look for the answer in every little coincidence of life, but rather I look to the wise people in my life, sermons or studies I encounter, or Scripture I read.
- If you are reading your Bible and spending time in prayer, then trust your gut. Sometimes God does call us to do a difficult thing but, just because it is difficult, doesn’t mean that it is a call from God. If your insides are doing somersaults about the prospect of some choice or another, it is probably not the right thing for you.
All our churches will be seeking God’s leading as we move on from the pandemic era, into something new that God has in store for us. I pray that we can all be attentive to God’s voice as we read his word, pray, and seek wisdom together.
Gerry Binnema is senior pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Chilliwack, B.C.