We are destined for disappointment if we expect God to routinely direct us through signs, assurances, and coincidences.
This expectation opens up the possibility of mistaking everyday occurrences for his overt guidance, which can lead to poor choices that produce adverse outcomes he never intended.
God primarily guides us through the Bible and the Holy Spirit; our mind, experience, and conscience; our noble desires and righteous interests; and the knowledge of other people. He rarely utilizes mystical experiences.
God expects us to exercise logic as well as faith when we face important decisions. He wants us to:
- Tell him about our situation.
- Detail the outcomes we prefer.
- Thank him for his trustworthiness.
- Submit our preferences to his will.
- Ask him for guidance, direction, and discernment.
- Search the Bible for pertinent insights.
- Gather all relevant knowledge from secular sources.
- Evaluate this information in light of our experience and the advice of wise counsel.
- Identify all possible courses of action, one of which may be to do nothing.
- Use sound judgment to select what appears at the time to be the prudent alternative. If we have several equally good options, choose the most appealing one.
- Implement our selection as best we can under the circumstances.
- Permit God to adjust our plans along the way, as he sees fit.
- Trust him to ultimately produce a good outcome.
In the Bible, God sometimes communicated directly with people at critical junctures through dreams, visions, visitations, and other unusual events.
He still uses these methodologies today on rare occasions to help some of us navigate problematic situations we are currently facing or will soon encounter.
But God sovereignly chooses the topics, times, places, and recipients for his unique messages, independent of our preferences.
We are not entitled to them. We cannot qualify for them. We can never bargain for them. We should not expect them.
If we do receive a special message that we think might be from God, the Bible says we should determine its authenticity before acting on it.
Not every unique message is divine. Some are diabolical. Others are delusional or contrived.
Here are the questions we should ask ourselves to determine divine authenticity.
- Does the message align with Biblical principles and priorities?
- Is it positive and affirming in nature?
- Does it coincide with our broader mission?
- Is it consistent with our noble desires and righteous interests?
- Does it tap into our current competencies or potential capabilities?
- Does it appeal to our humility more than our hubris?
- Will our reliance on it produce a virtuous outcome?
- Are we at peace with the risks and uncertainties it entails?
- Does it become more robust over time?
- Are we sufficiently detached emotionally to evaluate it objectively?
- Do wise believers concur with our answers to the previous questions?
If we can answer all of these questions affirmatively, the message is trustworthy.