Rewind. Pause. Push Play. About that ‘divinely inspired’ hunch…
September 19, 2011 – Aaron Bird
So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them… so make yourself an ark of cypress; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it…” Genesis 6:13-15
When the LORD saw that he [Moses] had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses! … I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob… I have come down to rescue them [the Israelites] from the hand of the Egyptians… so, now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:4, 6, 8, 10
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid… This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-10, 12
As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow Me,” He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him. Matthew 9:9
The bible makes it very clear: when God wants to get your attention, especially when He’s calling you to take action, He is anything but subtle. He uses storms and giant fish, world-consuming floods, burning bushes that speak, plagues of frogs and locusts, and angels singing His praises. And Jesus. So, then, why is it that even though the bible gives us every reason to believe that God is loud, we say “it’s God’s will,” when our only justification is a gut feeling or an inspired hunch? (*This is when the crowd shouts, “we just know; we can feel it.”)
The idea that these “little hunches and promptings I feel deep down in my heart/stomach/toes/nose/etc are God’s way of revealing His will to me,” is just as biblically sound as the whole “He has one, unique, detailed blueprint for my whole life” idea. In other words, it’s just not supported by scripture. Try as you might, you’re not gonna find an example of a Godly man/woman/child who relied on their intuition, no matter how finely tuned it may have been, to discern God’s will for their life. And when you think about it, the reasons why are kind of obvious…
Gut feelings give you all the power in the relationship… God made us and has been dealing with us for a LOOONNGG time; He’s well aware that we’re clueless and stubborn and generally unobservant. Do you really think that He would rely on your correct interpretation of a gut feeling every time He wants to communicate with you? *BTW: we’re not talking about feelings of peace, comfort, or conviction here; think major-life-choices and calls to action.*
On that same note: inspired hunches effectively eliminate the need for accountability… Who’s going to call you out or caution you about acting on a calling from the Lord? If it’s God’s will, it’s God’ will, and who am I to tell you differently, right? See below for the inherent problem here.
Relying on subtle promptings and signs tends to get you what you want… When we start interpreting feelings and looking for signs, we can find whatever we want to find. It’s like looking at one of these cool optical illusions, as soon as you think you know what you’re supposed to see, it’s hard to see anything else. Popular methods may include bible roulette, clearing your mind and attributing the next thought to God, or saying that if the next car you see is red you’ll go with option A, if it’s blue, option B, and if it’s another color, you get to play again.
OK, so now that we’ve established that our gut feelings aren’t always as legitimate as we’d like them to be, how do we, as Christians who want to follow God and listen to Him in all we do, go about making decisions? Well, first off, there’s an inherent flaw in our question. We need to stop thinking that “when faced with two or more good, moral alternatives, I must be careful to choose the ‘right’ one, because, of course, there’s always a ‘right’ one,” and embrace the validity of equal options. When you’re presented with choices, assuming they don’t go against God’s moral will (which He has outlined pretty clearly in the bible), it’s an occasion to celebrate! God loves you; He wants the best for you, and because He loves you so much, He’s given you the freedom to make decisions! It’s not a punishment, it’s a blessing! With that in mind, maybe we don’t even need to ask that question (Lord, which should I choose?!?!) in the first place.
When you’ve decided to follow God, He gives you His best for your life, always. So, stop wandering around in circles, driving yourself nuts, and stressing out over whether or not God wants you to major in Biology or History, see you drive the blue car or the red car, or take a job in Texas or Maine. The Lord wrote you a letter explaining how to live your life in a righteous way (it’s 66 books long and probably sitting on a shelf or maybe hiding under your bed), so read it again and again, and seek to live your life in pursuit of Jesus.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t pray about the choices you make or the goals you set – God wants to be in relationship with you, and He wants you to recognize His sovereignty over all that you do – nor am I saying that, despite your prayers, God will remain silent. God does answer prayers – He has proven that time again – and through Christ, we can each have a personal relationship with Him, where we can be in constant conversation with each other. Like I said in the very beginning, God is loud, and when He wants to speak, He’ll speak. All I’m saying is that, the times when you pray and you don’t get an answer, maybe you’re asking the wrong question. And, when you’re so caught up in looking for a sign that you call your gut feelings God’s will, maybe the ‘right’ answer you’re looking for doesn’t really exist.
Maybe, just maybe, God answered your question and gave you that sign a long time ago, and now He’s pointing to the Gospel, to His Son on the cross and His resurrection from the grave asking, “Could this be any more clear?”
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified… 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:15-17
Push Play: It’s easier said than done. Knowing on an intellectual level that God doesn’t have one, unique, detailed blueprint for my entire life and that there isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ answer to every question is easy enough. It makes sense that, because I have given my life to Christ, God takes my decisions and uses them for His glory; after all, we still have free will even after we’ve declared Christ as our Lord. Therefore, I am capable of deciding for myself, and God has promised that He will be there for me and that He will use my life, including my mistakes, for His purposes.
Knowing this on an emotional level, however, is a little trickier. Humans are relational beings – we live in community, and we don’t tend to do well in isolation – and emotions are a big part of relationships. So, being told that I can’t always trust my emotions in my relationship with Christ is a little scary. But, again, it makes sense; emotions are extremely subjective. If I could completely rely on my emotions to accurately portray my relationship with Jesus, then that would mean the times that I feel far from God, as if I were walking in the desert, are times when Jesus has actually left my side, and I know that it is not true. Jesus is with us always, whether we want Him there or not, and whether we feel Him there or not; we are never alone.
Putting these truths into play in my life, however true and logical they may be, is ridiculously difficult sometimes. Trusting in God is hard (if you disagree, you probably haven’t really tried it). It can actually be a lot easier to get stressed out and worked up over what God’s will for you is in this or that situation than to trust that no matter your choice, God’s gonna be there, or at the very least, it feels safer. But, God’s will for us isn’t to stay safe or comfortable; it’s to follow Him, to trust Him, and to love Him, no matter the consequences. Trusting in God means we don’t have to do as much work – He means what He says, and you can’t miss what He says because He wrote it all down for you. Ironic, isn’t it, that it’s so hard to do something so easy?