Why Isn't God Leading Me?
There’s a good desire in people to do what God wants them to do. To be led by Him and accomplish His will for their lives and his purposes. But with that desire can come a great deal of frustration and discouragement. People can struggle to discern God’s leading in their lives, especially when it seems like there isn’t anything extravagant happening. We want to be led by him, but most of the time we feel the trail to follow has grown cold. We read about God directing the Israelites with a pillar of cloud and fire and wish we only had such a luxury.
When we lack the sense that God is directing us, we can mistakenly conclude that we’re missing something, or simply we’re the problem. Time and time again this has been brought up as a concern in people’s life.
Do We Have The Wrong Idea?
With that said, there is merit to be self-examining our lives to see if there is any sin that has yet to be dealt with. The Bible teaches us that unrepented sin (keyword: unrepented) prevents our prayers from being heard by God (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:2). But aside from that we also know that sometimes God may seem silent (Psalm 22:1-2) or distant (Psalm 10:1). It’s not always quite clear why, but what is clear is that it is not permanent and some of the Bible’s greats experienced this — so we’re in good company.
But what if our understanding and expectations of God’s leading were unnecessarily extravagant? What if we have deceived ourselves into thinking that his leading is always obvious and clear? Maybe the greater question here is: what if we have fooled ourselves into believing we’re supposed to know the plan?
It is obvious that God has done great things in leading his people, the Bible is full of examples of the supernatural guidance of God. And who knows, he is fully able and free to use those measures today if he so desired to. Yet, there are also plenty of examples of God using the mundane, or apparent happenstance, to get his people from point A to point B.
God's Way Isn't Always Extravagant
Consider Paul on his second missionary journey. After preaching about Jesus in Berea, he’s forced to flee to Athens where he delivers one of his most famous sermons recorded in the Bible. God did not tell him to go there, in fact, it was the church that directed him to leave (Acts 17:14). To put it plainly, Paul, from our perspective, ended up there by chance.
David’s journey is another great example. When the prophet Samuel was sent to find a king to replace Saul, David is nowhere to be found. Turns out, he was busy watching over sheep (1 Samuel 16:11). Or think about David’s moment of fame when he defeats Goliath. In another moment of apparent coincidence, David was merely delivering food to his older brothers who stood by as the giant Philistine breathed threats against the people of God. David, motivated by a love for God, stepped in to fight him. He wasn’t divinely governed by anything miraculous — he simply found himself in a situation calling for a faithful servant of God.
Or what about Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50? Aside from him using his unique gift of interpreting dreams, most, if not all, his experience is being a victim of his circumstances. Not once do we see God speak to Joseph — but it’s clear God’s hand was over him the entire time, Joseph himself makes that blatantly clear by the end of the narrative (Genesis 50:20).
I think the account of Saul being anointed as the first king of Israel will drive this point home.
A Tale Of Two Perspectives
In 1 Samuel 9, we learn of a young man named Saul. He didn’t know it yet, but he was soon to be set over the entire kingdom of Israel. But before he was to watch over the people of God, he was tasked with finding some lost donkeys. Saul’s father, Kish, had requested he take a servant with him and go find where these donkeys had wandered off to. They looked all around the land for them but to no avail. Eventually, Saul was ready to give up, but the servant had an idea, he knew that a man of God (Samuel) was in a nearby town. After going back and forth with the servant, Saul finally agrees to go and seek out the prophet in hopes that he can shed light on where these donkeys are.
As the men are nearing Samuel, the narrative informs us that God had spoken to the prophet the day before concerning this very moment:
“Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed to Samuel: ‘Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel.’” (1 Samuel 9:15-16)
Stop for a moment and read that again. What did God say? “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man…”
Now ask yourself: how did God “send” Saul to Samuel? Sending someone or something carries a meaning of intentionality. If I told my wife I was sending one of our children to help bring groceries in she would assume that meant I clearly asked and directed them to do it.
So how did God do that with Saul? How did he send him?
By having him search for some lost donkeys.
From Saul’s perspective, he was merely trying to locate his father’s property, from Samuel’s perspective he was being divinely sent to become king of Israel. That’s quite a gap in perspective, isn’t it?
Trusting The Process
Here’s my thought:
We are not in line to become king of anything anytime soon, and yet the first king of Israel was directed to the throne, not by extraordinary means, but by the mundane tasks of life. Is it so crazy to think that God could or is doing that right now for all of us? What if the greatest thing we could do is to follow the examples of Paul, David, Joseph, and Saul by being faithful with what God has given us to do right now and trusting that he is directing us even in the seemingly insignificant matters of our days?
What if instead of stressing about missing God’s will we remained confident in his heart to get us where he wants us to be? We know God has created us for good works that we should do (Ephesians 2:10), and that he will finish the work he has started in us (Philippians 1:6).
So, what if instead of drowning in doubt, worry, and fear we, along with David confidently asserted, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8).
We may not get the signs and direction we wish, but God has proven he doesn’t need those things to accomplish his purposes. We can be confident that the same God who “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11), will lead us exactly where we need to be — even if it’s by searching for donkeys.