Do you wait until you hear God telling you to go, or do you go until you hear God telling you to wait?
For a while, I answered this question the way I assume most people do, that it’s better to wait on the Lord first. I mean, by God’s standards, we’re a pretty messed up group. We fail on our own. We need God’s help.
So it makes sense to wait to hear God’s voice before rushing into anything. Right? Doesn’t that make sense?
Direction is more important than decision
As Christians, the Spirit of God is with us. That’s a given. As Christians seeking to follow God’s will, we’re facing in the right direction. Our decisions then aren’t so much between good and bad but between good and good.
For instance, as Christians, are we really having that much trouble deciding between helping a friend move or stealing bread from a bakery? No, the tough decisions are the ones like deciding between helping that friend or going to the midweek Bible study. Those decisions are tough because both options seem good (or in opposite cases, neither option seems good). We honestly don’t know which God wants for us.
Sure, you and I can still make bad decisions. I can and certainly do all the time, even without knowing it. But I think most of the bad decisions you and I make – at least the ones we make without going against God on purpose – are decisions to stop, to hesitate, to not step out in faith.
Why? Because the Holy Spirit is with us, so His momentum moves us forward. Most options that move us forward will move us down the right path. The bad options are the options that keep us from moving forward.
All this to say, I think we need to change our assumptions when it comes to following the will of God.
Action is more important than knowledge
Usually, and I’ll just speak for myself here, I default to hesitation. Like I hear about moving to Saudi Arabia as a missionary, and my first response is, “God, if this is what you want for me, if this is what you’re calling me to do, then let me know so I can move forward with it.”
And then I forget about it.
What’s up with that? Can’t I be pretty sure that moving to Saudi Arabia as a missionary is something God will, you know, most likely appreciate? Don’t I know Him at least that well?
My first response should be more like, “God, I think this is your will so I’m moving forward with it. If it’s not your calling, if it’s not what you want for me, please let me know so I can stop.”
When God doesn’t want you to move forward
Obviously, if there’s a decision you know isn’t part of God’s will because it clearly contradicts Scripture, then don’t go for it. But for everything else, why not move forward until God tells you to stop?
In fact, even if you’re a new Christian, and you don’t know much about Scripture, I’d still suggest moving forward.
God’s really cool about telling you no.
Like if you’re legitimately wondering whether or not it’s God’s will for you to take a job at a strip club, I’d say try going for it. I trust that God will tell you in a hurry that’s not part of His plan for your life.
For example, I’ll tell you right now that working at a strip club is a bad idea. There, end of story. If you don’t trust me on this one, ask some other Christians at a local church. They can help you out and point you to some passages in Scripture. Count that as your confirmation. Then move on to the next option, assume it’s a good one, and move forward.
You can’t underestimate the importance of momentum for obedience.
Moving forward as a default
What if every time you and I heard something that seemed to align with God’s will, we moved forward with it? What if instead of asking for God’s confirmation to move forward, we asked for His confirmation to stop?
Here are a few examples of the changes I mean. What if we thought, and acted, like this?
- God is calling me to start a church in Alabama—unless I hear Him telling me no.
- God is calling me to be a missionary to Africa—unless I hear Him telling me no.
- God is calling me to sell everything I have and give it to the poor in my city—unless I hear Him telling me no.
That’s a crazy lifestyle. Seriously, in practical terms, this will mean you’re constantly reinventing how you live, maybe where you live, and definitely who you live with everyday. It will mean dedicating your entire life, literally, to God’s plan and letting that plan sway you and move you and change you and throw you around.
But isn’t this the lifestyle God calls us to? I mean, check the Bible for yourself. Doesn’t it seem like Jesus is pretty serious about selling everything we own, pretty serious about only taking the stuff we can carry on our backs, pretty serious about leaving everything to follow Him?
You know God’s will
Let me take a step back to clarify something.
I’m not saying to go without hearing from God. I’m saying, you’ve already heard Him. It seems to me that God’s will, His general will at least, is clearly laid out in the Bible.
The problem comes when we start asking for our individual calling instead of trusting God’s general commandments. Unlike the general advice we give, God’s actually does apply to every, single one of us, you know? Have you ever considered that before, that maybe the things He tells all of us to do are actually the same things He’s telling you personally to do right now?
I know. It’s scary for me too. But sometimes scary is an indication of faith in action. If it’s not scary, maybe you’re not really using much faith. That’s not always the case, but I’d say it correlates pretty often.
What do you say?
Do you wait until you hear God telling you to go, or do you go, trusting the obvious stuff He’s already said, until you hear Him telling you to wait?
(1) Open your Bible to the place where you usually do a daily devotion (or if that’s not in your routine, open to where you might start if you were to begin that routine).
(2) Read until you find the first place where it gives a general command to followers of Christ.
(3) Close your Bible and try following that command immediately. If you had to live that command in some practical way right now, how would you do it? Make this a habit. Stop waiting on the Lord and move forward with what He’s already said.