Direction and Discernment
I often am hesitant about making what I see as big life decisions. Where does God want me? What does He have planned for me, and how can I remain faithful to those plans? In Numbers 9:15-23, Moses describes how the people of Israel were led through their desert times after the Exodus. A cloud hovered over the tabernacle during the day, and looked like fire at night. When God wanted Israel to strike camp and move on, the cloud would lift off from the tabernacle; Israel then followed it wherever it went, and settled wherever it settled.
Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with His command through Moses.
— Numbers 9:22-23
Israel didn’t know where they were going. They didn’t know the plan, weren’t told the big picture. They just followed, even when nothing made sense. As hymn-writer E.S. Hall put it: “I may not know the way I go, but oh, I know my Guide.”
The beauty and appeal of this concept is astounding. But it’s not my story. I’ve often sought out for direction in my life choices, but have rarely gotten an answer. I don’t know what form of answer I was expecting, but I couldn’t figure out one way or the other what God wanted me to do. No matter the sincerity or duration of my prayers for guidance (though, admittedly, when it comes to prayer, I’m an extreme lightweight), no Voice from Heaven, closed and opened doors, or lighted path ever emerged. Not when I was choosing which college to go to, which professional career path to pursue, which law school to attend, or which job to work this summer. One exception may be my work for Summer 2008, with CASA, where of all the jobs I applied to, it was the only one that took me on. Nevertheless, even in hindsight, I’m still not sure why that was, though I suppose I’m asking too much.
So on this post I open it up to the wisdom of the readers: please post in your comments stories of how God has led you, directed you, or given discernment. I urge you to be open — even if anonymous — for, whether you realize it or not, it will be of great encouragement and edification to both me and all the other readers.