I recently read a social media post from Paul Scanlon that resonated with me as I reflected back on my time in Germany so far. It read:
“Q) How do you attract divine guidance? A) Movement.
The biggest thing I’ve learned about divine guidance in over 45 years of walking with God is that: GOD IS DRAWN TO MOVEMENT.
That movement doesn’t have to be well planned or even accurate it just needs to be intentional and from a good heart.
Point your life in the general non-specific direction of service to others and HE WILL DIRECT YOUR STEPS.” – Paul Scanlon
Once upon a time I wouldn’t have dreamt about moving to a new country without a carefully constructed plan of where I would live, how I would fund myself, where I would work, which church I would attend, how I might serve, and so on. But when I responded in obedience to the first step, God graciously showed me the second, then the third, and the fourth…
God uses His Word to speak to us and guide us through this life, but in order to speak into the specifics of our world, He often needs us to present Him with possible options. How will we be sure of the right door if we have not pushed at a few wrong doors first? God gently steers us through life using the path of least (spiritual) resistance. That’s not to say that we won’t face challenges along the way, but as we attempt to move in different directions, God can use firmly closed doors to keep us from wandering off our own unrivaled road.
These doors come in all sorts of shapes and sizes: opportunities, conversations, invitations, circumstances outwith our control. Our attitude and perspective then determines our response when faced with these different doors.
“Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. Become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment that you know it all, for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion and avoid everything that’s wrong.”
(Proverbs 3:5-7 (TPT))
At the beginning of the summer, when I was searching for a new apartment closer to my workplace, I enquired about over fifty different apartments online. From those fifty, I received only a handful of responses and was consequently invited to viewings.
Apartment hunting in the Frankfurt area is no joke. The apartments that I was fortunate enough to be invited to view often had at least one hundred other interested parties; the competition is fierce. A friend recently shared with me that she was the successful one out of 600 applicants for her apartment in central Frankfurt! While I was not too picky when sending out emails of interest, I prayed that God would use circumstances and opportunities to whittle out the wheat from the chaff and lead me to an affordable, safe, convenient apartment.
Consequently, after three months of searching, scores of emails exchanged, hours spent travelling back-and-forth on public transport, several viewings, and a few unsuccessful applications, God led me to the right apartment and allowed me to (literally) enter. (Interestingly, the apartment did not, in the online advertisement, meet my defined search criteria, so how it landed on my results page I’ll never know. God clearly knew what He was doing.)
In order to find the right apartment, I had to be active. I had to search online, and enquire, and send emails, and view them, and have conversations in broken German, and run credit checks, and submit applications. It was time consuming, and frustrating, and sometimes felt never-ending. But with every ‘wrong’ apartment, I drew a little closer to the right one; I learnt to know what to look for, I discovered what was important to me in selecting an apartment suitable for my needs and desires, I explored different areas and got a feel for the my new surroundings. At the time, it maybe felt like I was making no progress, but these closed doors were all steering me towards the right one.
Now I’m not suggesting that we need to over-spiritualise every little decision and movement that we make; as we draw close to God and speak to Him regularly in prayer we will receive the wisdom and discernment to make good decisions. Our desire to follow Him and serve Him will grow, and He will gently steer us towards His best: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
But do you think that God can steer us if we are sitting comfortably in our armchair at home, waiting for Him to drop a Billy-Graham-revival-sized idea into our hearts? Well, He might. But it is far more likely that the road to such an incredible privilege is paved with hundreds, nay thousands, of tiny steps forward, seeking simply to honour God with our life.
Consider this: if God were to call you to a Billy-Graham-revival-sized idea tomorrow, would you be ready? Would you have the faith, the courage, the experience to see it through? Not many of us would. But the beauty of the journey – all those incremental steps that lead us there – is the preparation we experience along the way.
And as we become more confident and practiced in stepping forward in faith, the more familiar His voice becomes.
Could I have moved to Germany if I hadn’t previously gone in faith to NYC for four months? No.
Could I have been successful in the role as Event Manager at Souled Out events if I had not previously volunteered in the stewarding team? No.
Could I have co-led short-term mission trips to Montenegro if I had not previously participated in GLO Teams in Italy? No.
We take one shaky step forward, not knowing what to expect or what God might do, but He shows up, takes our hand, and our faith grows… So we take another step forward – a little easier this time, having seen His faithfulness in our first step – and God nudges us to the left a little cus He has something better for us than what we anticipated for ourselves…
Now we’re on a journey – we don’t want to go back to where we were – so we look around, considering our options, and walk in the direction that seems to align with the peace that the Spirit gives us, and God continues to use opportunities and circumstances and timing to bring us further down His path…
And we walk. And momentum builds. And we become more confident living in a way that contradicts society and culture, but a way that brings us joy, and peace, and life.