All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.” Genesis 31:16
Should Jacob leave Laban’s household, take his two daughters (Jacob’s wives), and go back to his home country? A huge decision. Yes, he had been betrayed by Laban but betrayal is not always a cause for fleeing.
It is my experience that discerning God’s will involves many steps. It requires the discernment to recognize the signs that only come by asking God for them. How did Jacob know it was time to leave?
Griffith Thomas, a Welsh theologian of the late 1800’s, pointed out in his writings several principles for discerning God’s will and he used Jacob’s story to make his point.
- Jacob had a desire to leave. (Genesis 30:25) When I walk closely with God, my desires are shaped by my time with Him and the Word changing my appetites. God longs to give me the desires of my heart yet I can often think my desire, whatever it is, must be squashed.
- Circumstances necessitated a change of some sort. It has been my experience that God will cause things to close in around me, making going forward in that particular place impossible. That is usually a sign it’s time to do something else.
- God’s word came strongly to him. I must ask God to speak and give me the ears and eyes to recognize His voice. It might be through the Word itself, someone else’s advice, or through a dream. God is most creative.
- Finally, there was confirming support from his wives, despite their natural ties to their father. Here is the place where families are fractured. A man is called to go overseas and just feels like he has God’s blessing if he just mandates that to his family. He doesn’t give them time to pray and seek God. He doesn’t pray with them and ask God to also give them the same desire. He forces the move prematurely. God’s Spirit moves over families, not just heads of households.
I have found all these steps to be true. I just admit that, at times, I don’t know why God doesn’t make it easier. I can believe it was easier for the patriarchs. God spoke audibly to them and told them where to go and what to do. Ah, but they didn’t have the Spirit of God inside, nudging, whispering, compelling, and emotionally reacting. For every one of you today who is making a life-changing decision, I am praying for you.
Lord, confirm Your Word to your servant. Don’t let them walk into trouble. Bind their mind to You and loose their mind from self-made plans and deception. Stir up holy desire. Shut the mouth of their enemy who would skew the signs. Let confirmations come today; nothing deterring them. Amen