Growing up in a Christian community, on many occasions I fervently prayed for God’s will to be apparent, but I never felt I directly heard His voice telling me what direction He wanted me to go.
This photo of Antarctica, taken by Dr. Stanley, reminds me of those days, when I lived as if paralyzed by a host of options, unable to make a move for fear of getting it wrong. I wondered not only if I was missing out on something other believers were experiencing, but also if something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I feel His guiding hand? If our God is as omnipotent and omnipresent as we claim, why did He seem so removed from the larger decisions of my life?
Looking back, I can see now I had a lot of help in finding my way—even if at the time I couldn’t see it for what it was. In particular, there were important mentors who influenced me about many things, including my approach to studying Scripture. And with their assistance, I gradually realized that “God’s will” might not always look like an obvious signal but is often the culmination of smaller signs and tools He’s provided—our own conscience, for one, and common sense. The wisdom of other believers. His Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit. I may not have had a clear map of where to go, but there was no shortage of guidance.
If our God is as omnipotent and omnipresent as we claim, why did He seem so removed from the larger decisions of my life?
Metaphors like these provide meaningful symbolism when I picture decision-making in conjunction with God’s will. In my mind there are all too often just two signs with arrows—one completely correct decision pointing in a particular direction, and one completely incorrect decision pointing in an opposite direction. But that’s not true. Any number of choices can honor God and exist within His will. What matters, in the end, is that in whatever we choose, we become more like Christ as a result. And when we do that, we’ll have a clearer and clearer sense of which way to go.