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Following God’s Leading or Forcing Our Plan?

I come from a faith tradition that celebrates the big steps of faith, the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, the denial of self and the exaltation of God. I suppose that should be the approach of all faith traditions, but the pentecostal “brand” takes it to a different degree.  I am not criticizing this in any way, just offering context for what I am about to say.  My nature, however, is to be a bit cautious and measured in my steps.  So the dance of discerning what is God’s leading and what is my plan that I am forcing God into is a hard one.  I suppose this to some degree is the age-old question, “What is the will of God?”  Each of us have those moments when we desire to honor and follow God’s leading, but are unclear if it really is His will or just our good intentions and plans.

When seeking God’s will I have generally relied on one passage that David wrote in Psalm 37:4, 5

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

Major emphasis is on the delight in the Lord part and not on the desires of my heart.  I am of the belief that when I delight in Him, my desires conform and are transformed to His desires.

But there are those times when specific plans come into play. Big life decisions.  BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals).  In those moments, are they God-lead or just my crazy plans that I step out in and expect God to show up?

I am in the middle of one of those right now.  We have decided to sell our home, which in and of itself is not a big deal.  People do that all the time.  But human wisdom says, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, which in this context means, don’t sign a lease on your next home until you sell your last one.  Which of course we have done.  So come the first of the month we will have a mortgage AND a rent due.  I knew from the moment I agreed to this it was crazy and unwise in my thinking.  But I also “knew” it was God’s leading.

I have been sensing a growing intensity to shed stuff, to downsize, to let go of the weights that hold me down.  Instead I have a growing desire to also be more generous with God’s provision, to fund projects which grow His kingdom, to be a blessing to others.  This is clearly a God-honoring posture to take.   Where we live the rental market is very tight and there was only one location we would even consider that would make it worthwhile to sell our home.  These locations rarely open up and when they do the competition to get it is fierce.  So when one opened up and it “happened” that the owner was a parent of a church member and they felt a confidence to choose us, we felt this was clearly of God’s arrangement.  So sign we did and quickly moved to put our house on the market.  All of our actions were also strongly affirmed by our growth group, pastor, and other people we trust – people who I would have expected to say, “Len, you are crazy putting yourself in a position to pay a rent and mortgage.”  Instead everyone has said your home will sell, you are not pricing it too high, this is a good decision.

Now I am only a week and half into this, so we will see.  But the storm clouds are out there.  The first of the month is not too far away.  And my “faith” is having moments of concern.  Am I forcing God to “show up” or did God say to me, “Step out and watch what I can do”?

I feel a little bit like the disciple Peter who stepped out of the boat and then sank.  But the guy got out of the boat!   He took faith steps and I think that is good.  I have no doubt that my/our heart and intentions have been nothing but pure in this.  I am certain that I felt the prompting of God.  And even if I crash and burn, even if I sink and drown, I will believe that we did this in all sincerity.

I heard recently something to the effect, “God showed me that if I take responsibility for the failures, I will take credit for the success”.  (Not sure if that was Andy Stanley or Craig Groeschel, but am sure it was said at a Catalyst Conference).   I want to see God in action, I have no desire to say that my wisdom led me here and in any way take credit should this turn out great.  But if it doesn’t, I don’t want to get in a place where I blame God for the results of forcing Him to rescue me from poor wisdom either.  I hope I don’t have to wrestle with that one.

Until then, my posture is this; “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

1 Comment

  1. Ed Hultgren

    Well said. I have seen the Lord rescue myself and many others. Was I always clear on motivations in my instances? I’m not entirely sure. I do know that if we don’t venture out of the harbor, we can’t put our sails in the wind and trust our compass.

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