Three Words to Remember When Looking for God’s Direction

It seems like everyone we know is in the midst of making big decisions these days. As John and I were talking about our own seeking of God’s will tonight, these words I wrote last year came to mind… 

I ran into a 23-year-old friend the other day and asked how she was doing. “Being in your twenties is…awkward!” she answered.  “All these questions about what you’re going to do with your life…who you’ll be, where you’ll go…what to say ‘yes’ to.”

That same day I had coffee with a friend who said her son is wrestling with some of the same unsettledness, and she herself is in a time of transition that has raised questions about God’s direction.  She said, “I thought by this age I’d have it figured out and be cruising along!”

24 hours earlier I had had dinner with a young single friend who said, “My life looks a lot different now than I thought it would.”

Each person’s situation was different, but there was a common theme. They longed for a clear plan.

Wouldn’t it be oh so nice if God always gave detailed instructions like,

“Susan, I want you to move to 673 Elm St., Provo Utah,  join the Church-of-People-on-the-Right-Track, take the job with State Farm, (not General Mills), and order the tomato soup at Panera for lunch.”

And sometimes in the Bible God does that, like when God gives Ananias specific instructions (Acts 9:11) to go to the house of Judas on the street called Straight, (Love it!). But usually it’s a bit fuzzier, like in Acts 15:28 where Paul writes, “It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit…”

ARGH!  I want a sure thing, thank you very much!

When I’m in seasons of discernment and transition, the three words that I feel like God often whispers to me are “Open your hands”


  • Open your hands…to release your plans – your idols, your “gotta have’s”, your picture of “perfect” in favor of God’s.  Acknowledge your dreams, but don’t clutch them.  Release them to God to change, add, refine…Clearly easier to do when you know God’s character and are starting from a place of faith in His goodness.
  • Open  your hands…to receive counsel from wise advisors who know you well and love Jesus.  But don’t clutch it either.
  • Open your hands…to use what God has put in them – your gifts, your courage, your availability.  What direction is consistent with God’s love and your wiring?
  • Open your hands…to let go of fear that you’ll “get it wrong”.  I know, I know… there are consequences to bad decisions, but God wants to be known and can redeem and redirect if we get off track.

Amazingly, when we do open our hand God fills it with His own. 

Yet I am always with you;
You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

(Psalm 73:23,24)

What has been helpful to you when making life decisions?  

5 thoughts on “Three Words to Remember When Looking for God’s Direction

    • Such a good question Will. I wonder if it might be important to ask what’s at the root of the desire for change?

      I think God is more concerned about who we’re becoming – people who are more like Him, than that our circumstances look exactly like what we imagine is best. I believe He may delay the ability to attain our desires as He does refining work in our lives.

      I think of people like Paul who had a “thorn in the flesh” that he prayed to be rid of…certainly his desire was for change, but as far as we know he didn’t receive it. Ps.37:5 says “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” As Paul delighted more and more in God, did he develop a desire even deeper than one to have his thorn removed? Did that become less urgent in comparison to other things? I don’t know.

      For C.S. Lewis the fact that we have desires that aren’t satisfied completely here on earth, was evidence, he believed, of a place beyond…That we aren’t made for this world, and only in heaven will we be completely satisfied.

      Regardless, there’s a battle going on and we can’t overestimate the extent to which our world is marred by sin. Our desire for change may be a “holy discontent” that takes perseverance and faith over time.

      What do you think?


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