We are barely into 2015 and already it has been quite an interesting year. Every once in a while we find ourselves in a position of specific consideration and decision around our life’s path. Although it is certainly true that we are constantly making daily decisions that affect the direction of our journey, it is also true that sometimes we have to step back and look at things on a little bit larger scale. This is the place I’ve found myself lately. Recently there have been some things come up that have required much prayer and consideration regarding the place to which I believe I am called. Potential changes in our paths, no matter when or how they present themselves, must always be seriously considered, especially when it pulls at the deepest desires of our hearts.
Many of you who read or follow my blog know that I have a huge heart for service. I feel very strongly about being true to the calling I believe is placed on my life, but sometimes that is much easier said than done. It seems there have been junctions several times in my journey that would have taken my day-to-day life in a very different direction. But at each decision point, I have genuinely tried to clear the voices of expectation, and the noise of emotions from my heart and mind, and simply listen to that still small voice within. When we are able to do that, it makes our decisions much clearer and also makes it easier to stand strong when the inevitable doubts creep in. We like to be certain of things in life. We like to feel confident that what we are about to undertake is the “right” thing for us. We want to move forward with assurance and a strength that will withstand the barriers that come any time we make a change. It is interesting that even when we think we have reached this place of certainty, no matter how clear things have become, we still want a sign from God that we are leaning the right direction and that our decisions are correct.
There is a story in the Bible (Judges chapter 6) of a man named Gideon who struggled with the same things we do in our decision-making process. God had already promised him the victory in an upcoming battle, but even a direct word from God was not enough to quell Gideon’s doubts and apprehension. After all, this was a serious situation he was heading into! So Gideon talked to God and asked Him for a sign to prove to him that what God told him earlier was the truth. So he says to God, “If what you said is REALLY the truth, then I’m going to put a fleece on the ground tonight. In the morning, I want you make it so the dew is only on the fleece but the rest of the ground is totally dry. That way I will know for sure and can trust I’m doing the right thing.” So the next morning, God did exactly as Gideon had asked. You’d think that would have been enough, but it wasn’t. After all, maybe something happened and the fleece got wet some other way, or maybe there just wasn’t any dew at all that morning. So he goes back to God and says, “Ok God, please don’t be angry with me, but just humor me for a moment. I just need to test this one more time with the fleece. I’m going to put it out again, but THIS time let the fleece be dry and all the ground around it wet.” So God again did exactly what Gideon asked so that Gideon would finally move ahead with assurance.
I share that story with you because it’s important to understand that sometimes when we ask for a sign, God humors us and gives us one. Unfortunately, we often react just like Gideon and reason away the sign even when it is the exact thing we said would make us certain. So we ask again, and sometimes He gives us another sign at our request, but I can just see Him shaking His head in disappointment at our lack of trust in the direction He’s already provided us. And then there are times, like I have experienced in the past week, when I think God has a sense of humor and simply removes our fleece altogether! Let me explain…
I am not a “fleece” person under normal circumstances. I learned long ago that as long as I silence my spirit and truly listen to my heart, I have the ability to discern the true and correct path I should walk. But when I let other people or situations enter in and cloud the process, then I begin to doubt even the strongest pulling toward the true answer. In other words, I don’t usually go to God and say, “Ok, I think this is the way I’m supposed to go, but if You would just do such and such, then I will know for sure.” But this time around, I have to admit, I reached for the fleece. I had reached a point where I felt I knew the answer for my path, but part of me was still being pulled toward something I desired. As a result, I picked a fairly benign action to become not a sign, but a validation of what I thought I already knew. Somehow that made my request for proof seem more reasonable. As it turned out, the situation unfolded in a way that made it meaningless as a sign, and it made me chuckle audibly. I shared what happened with a trusted friend who knew about my little fleece moment, and then I added, “I think God stole my fleece!” Although humorous, it was also true. After all, my validation indicator had basically disappeared. I believe sometimes God removes our fleece in order to remind us the answers we seek are actually within us if we will just listen.
Sometimes we are faced with decisions so important to us that we should not devalue them or make them less significant by relegating the outcome to needing proof. The only proof we need is within us. If we genuinely seek the truth, we will find it. If we genuinely seek the path, it will be revealed. And if we seek God and delight ourselves in Him, His word tells us He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). The key is making sure our hearts are first turned to Him. If they are, then we will be able to discern things in a much more peaceful and clear manner. When my fleece disappeared, and I let go of my desire for validation, I found exactly what I needed.
To continue asking for proof when we already know the answer often leaves us paralyzed in a place of contemplation rather than being able to move forward. When we throw down the fleece every time we need to make a decision, we regress to such a state of spiritual immaturity that God has to continually spoon-feed us in order for us to do anything at all. We need to grow up and let go of our security blankets made of fleece. We need to approach the intersections in our life’s journey with great consideration and care, and then be willing to step out in confidence…even if that “step” means not walking anywhere at all.