Do you ever wonder how to discern God’s will?
Numerous volumes have been written on this subject, so I don’t hope to offer any new insights. But I was intrigued recently by a biblical example.
The text is Genesis 24. It was time for Abraham’s son, Isaac, to marry. Abraham wanted to choose a wife for Isaac from among his kinspeople. The only problem was, he was too old to travel to his homeland himself and undertake the necessary negotiations. So he entrusted the job to a faithful servant. After clarifying the task at hand, the servant departed in search of a wife for his master’s son.
When the servant arrived, he prayed. He asked God to grant him success on behalf of his master, and then he made this request: “Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom You have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that You have shown steadfast love to my master.”
This wise servant entrusted his labor to the Lord, and then essentially placed a door in front of Him. He could ascertain the will of God by each woman’s response to his question; their answers to his request would be either an open door or a closed one.
He didn’t have to wait long before the first prospect came his way. In fact, he didn’t have to wait at all! Before he had finished speaking, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder. The servant asked her for a drink, she agreed, he accepted, and then she proceeded to offer to draw water for all of his animals.
Bingo! That’s just what he had asked for. Time to scoop her up and head home, right?
But Genesis 24:21 tells us that instead of acting right away, “the man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the LORD had prospered his journey or not.”
But didn’t the circumstance appear to be the open door for which he was hoping? The one he had specifically asked for?
Yes…but what I love about this servant is that he didn’t presume to dictate to his God. He didn’t assume God would work in the way he had specified. He understood that God always has an unquestionable right to work in whatever ways He chooses. Sometimes He condescends to grant our requests. But other times He knows there is a better way.
After his time of silent contemplation, the servant took the next step in claiming the young Rebekah for his master’s son. And then there were several more steps to take before his mission was accomplished. During each step of the process, the faithful servant’s words and actions indicated complete trust in God’s leading…trust that is evidenced by his attitude of humble submission to God’s right to change his course at any time.
But that same trust also bolstered a bold determination once God’s leading was clear. Rebekah’s family tried to delay her departure beyond the agreed upon time frame. Because he was confident of God’s leading, the servant was able to demand, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master” (v. 56). Now that he was sure of God’s will, he refused to allow anything to sway him from it.
Such trust that looks expectantly to the Good Shepherd and then proceeds boldly in the face of obstacles must be a precious thing to our God!
Heavenly Father, how I thank you for leading me as my Good Shepherd! Please help me not to rush into decisions without simple silence before You, even when the doors stay open and the path seems clear. As a young child looks to her father and a sheep to its shepherd, may I always look to You expectantly, seeking confirmation and guidance from You alone. And once You grant it, please strengthen me and embolden me against all obstacles that would seek to thwart Your plans for me.
Written by Jennifer Clarke