I recently taught at my church out of Cheri Cowell’s excellent book Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life.
One of the most eye-opening key lessons from this book is its debunking of the idea that if the way is clear, that must be God’s will. To sum up Cowell’s point up in my own words, the path of least resistance is a Zen concept, not a Christian one. As we see in the book of Job, obstacles may come precisely *because* we are doing God’s will.
A more subtle lesson, but just as important, is counterintuitive. If we spend lots of time in prayer over a decision, seeking God’s will, and we don’t receive any clear guidance, what are we to think?
Perhaps there is some obstacle, like unforgiveness, that’s hindering our discernment.
Or maybe God just doesn’t care.
How can that be, if, as Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”?
Well, yes, God is Sovereign, and his purposes will not be thwarted.
But we also have free will. It would be absurd to believe that we only have free will so we can either do God’s will or disobey. Surely there must be times when the decisions are more subtle than that.
A boss may have a specific goal for his employees, while giving them autonomy in choosing how to achieve it. He won’t micromanage them by giving advice in those areas, because he trusts them to make right choices without his help.
God is not a micromanager. He has given us a big-picture goal: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
So if he isn’t giving specific direction about a particular issue, maybe it’s because either way is fine with him.