We know from Scripture and from personal experience that God leads and directs His people. The main way that He does so is by His Spirit working through His Word the Bible. God’s will is mainly revealed in His Word as we embrace it, know it, internalize it, and come to know more about the mind and the heart of God through it as we conform our lives to what it says. Any means of seeking the will of God that does not involve the rigorous, regular, and systematic study of the Word of God is flawed and is a potential recipe for disaster.
God also leads His people through the godly counsel of others who are studying and loving and embracing and living God’s Word. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors provided that the multitude know the Word of God.
It is also true that God sometimes leads through circumstances that we seek to interpret through the lens of the Word of God. God sometimes does close doors and open doors and these are indeed factors (not sole factors, but factors) in determining His leadership for our lives.
God uses these and other means to lead and guide His people; the list could certainly go on. To think that God does not lead His people would be unbiblical and contrary to the experience of most Christians. But as God leads His people He rarely (if ever) leads them in a way that does not call for faith. And while the way that God leads His people is important, it is not nearly as important as how God’s people trust their God.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This faith does not find its anchor in what is known and understood and what can be checked out and mapped or planned. The anchor for this faith and this trust is the person and the promises of God: Who He is and what He has said He will accomplish. This kind of faith enables the Christian to press on steadfastly even when he does not know what the future holds for him. And he presses on not because he understands or trusts the future, but because he understands and trusts God who firmly holds the future.
Faith knows that God can be relied upon and trusted.
Faith clings to God when you do not know how things are going to shake out and where exactly you are going. Let’s be honest: most of life from our perspective is absolutely uncertain. That is our perspective, but that is not God’s perspective. Our uncertainty concerning the future is only an apparent uncertainty; everything is certain to the God that we are called to trust.
But all of this is a matter of perspective. It all derives from how one sees things: do you see by merely sight or do you see by faith? Fear sees only the uncertainty and the unanswered questions and the range of options. Faith sees only God. The Apostle Paul called this “walking by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Walking by sight does not require a lot of faith. When you walk by sight you have things seemingly figured out and there is a fail-proof plan that you have come up with and there are safety nets galore around you to catch you if you have made a miscalculation somewhere. When we walk by sight we have a tendency to trust ourselves and others and not to lean heavily and desperately upon God.
When you walk by faith you do not walk by sight. You cannot do both: to walk by faith is not to walk by sight. Most things that we do in life we structure to ensure that we do not have to walk by faith. But God expects His people to walk and live and think and make decisions that is a living out of their trust in Him and not a denial of it. And walking by faith is what is pleasing to the Lord because it is a demonstration of a person’s trust in the Lord.
Two verses later in 2 Corinthians Paul writes, “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9). Trusting God pleases God. As a matter of fact, it is the only way to please God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” If I am not walking by faith I am either trusting in myself or I am walking in unbelief and neither is pleasing to God. Walking by faith realizes that the goal of the Christian life is not to know the plan of God, but to know God Himself and to be one who “diligently seeks Him.”
So what do you do when you come to a crossroads and are not sure where to go? You trust God and you walk by faith. And you realize that the plan of God is not about a plan, it is about a Person and knowing Him (2 Peter 3:18).