1 Samuel 6:9 (NKJV)
“And watch: if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us—it happened to us by chance.”
There are times when we will be unsure about what the will of God is. There are times when the will of God will be extremely confusing. There are times when we will wonder whether what we are going through is God’s will, Satan’s antics, or just pure chance. [Of course, it’s important to say at this point that for us pilgrims, nothing actually happens by chance.] All things are under God’s express direction and guidance, but still, there will be times when we won’t know why things happen the way they do, or what lessons we are supposed to learn from a set of events. Life can become bleak and sorrowful when we go through experiences that we cannot decipher or make meaning out of them. These are the realities of life’s uncertainties, and while we know God’s Spirit lives in us and walks with us, and is ordering all things according to the Father’s will, we must be honest to confess that there are many uncertainties with life. There will be situations in which we will always find it hard to clearly understand God’s will. For example, if you pray for something really important to you and you feel God assuring you of a positive answer, and yet the opposite happens, this can be very traumatic. So, what do we do?
If we experience these struggles, imagine what the world is facing!! The Philistines, who obviously did not have God’s Spirit, were in such a fix. So, they devised a simple strategy to try to decode what was going on. They wanted to know if all that happened to them – the plagues of tumors and rats – were a thing of chance or if the God of Israel was the One really behind it. They took two milk cows, and a new cart, put the Ark of the Lord and their trespass offerings in them, and let the cows go off on their own. Their simple test was that if the cows headed towards Beth Shemesh in Israel, then the Ark was guiding the cows back home, and the plagues were from God. This was like a fleece, a test of sorts, a way of seeking to know God’s mind. Does God want us to walk with Him like this on a daily basis? No, certainly not. We have a more accurate way of guidance. God’s Spirit speaks to us in ways that are more accurate and more definite. We all know that. However, there will be times when we may need to use a fleece for some kind of clarity. We are not expected to do this as a default way of sensing God’s will, but there will be times when it may be required. Gideon did it. The early Apostles did it. But it must be done with rarity and with some kind of conviction from the Lord. Are we teaching you to depart from the Holy Spirit’s guidance? Certainly not. We, however, confess that now and again; God, in His mercy, sees when we are stuck and comes in to help us by giving us some practical signs. When you feel confused and discouraged about God’s will in a situation, don’t be afraid to ask for a sign. You may not need to specify what the sign should look like, but as you walk with the Lord, and as you trust Him to speak to you, He will give you a sign in your time of need.