The Israelites had the visible presence of the Lord to follow as they wandered in the wilderness. He appeared either as a pillar of cloud or fire. Those of us who trust Christ as our Savior have Him living in us and the Holy Spirit to lead us. Pillar of clouds or fire – visible and tangible; the Holy Spirit’s leading – invisible and usually intangible. How do you follow what you cannot see? How do you grasp what you cannot touch or feel? Let explore some answers to those questions.

Engage your faith.

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for… 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:1, 2a, 6

We grasp the movement of God first by faith – by believing that He is within us and that He wants to teach and lead us. That means approaching Him with confidence that He will teach and lead – He will respond when we pursue Him. It means beginning each interaction with the Lord – whether worship, prayer, Bible study or service – reminding ourselves that He wants to speak to us and will speak to us if we attune our ears to hear Him.

It’s very easy for me to begin to read the Bible in the morning and be halfway through a chapter (or further) when I realize that I’m just reading. I’m not approaching it with an expectation that God will speak to me. There is a world of difference in what I hear from God when I simply read as opposed to when I ask Him to speak to me and I expect to hear from Him. (Even so, I am always surprised when I do hear from Him – how antithetical is that?)

Be “in faith” – believe – that God will speak to you and lead you.

Be predisposed to follow wherever He leads.
Just as you have an expectation to hear from God, have an expectation that you will do whatever He says. A “wait and see” attitude is not only displeasing to God, it is a mask that covers the face of pride, a critical attitude and seeds of doubt.

A “wait and see” attitude pridefully says that you will decide if what God has told you to do is the right thing for you to do or not – if it is best for you. It puts you in the position of being critical of the plans God has for you. It casts doubt that He will enable you to do what He has called you to do. Pride, criticism and doubt are all problems that plagued Job and his friends. I believe God would say to those of us who nurture a “wait and see” attitude, the same thing He said to Job:

4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.

5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?

6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—

7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,

9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,

10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,

11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

Job 38:4-11

Unquestionably, God is more knowledge and more power than you and I. Sometimes He needs to remind us about that.

If you want to find and follow the invisible, you must believe that He is and be determined to follow Him when He reveals Himself to you.

Friends, I have to pause here and say that as I write this, God is dealing with me so seriously about this issue. I can think of so many times when I have wondered “is this God?” and not been obedient, only to learn later that it was, indeed, God. I can think of so many situations where I have been afraid that others would think it wasn’t my “place” to do something, so I haven’t acted upon God’s leading. I can think of so many situations when I have kept silent when God was prompting me to speak.

Lord, forgive me. Change me – give me a predisposition to speak and act when I sense Your leading.

Readers, may I encourage you to pause and ask God to reveal if this is an area of weakness for you? If it is, repent (agree with God that you have failed Him) and ask Him to forgive you and change your heart and mind so that You are predisposed to follow Him.

Experience God’s presence regularly.

You will more likely be able to recognize God’s leading in your life if you regularly pursue God’s manifest presence. (See my blog “Recognizing the Invisible God” for more on the manifest presence of God.) Regularly do those things that most easily lead you into His presence. Attend church, have your own personal times of worship and Bible study, fellowship with other believers. I find that when I am regularly experiencing the manifest presence of God, I am more likely to see His presence in my life throughout the day. I am more likely to sense when He begins to move and when He settles in. Practice experiencing the presence of God so that you can recognize when He moves and when He stays. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of pursuing God apart from attending church weekly. Worship Him throughout the week, not just on Sundays.

I recommend the Christian classic The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a French monk who purposed to find God in the everyday activities of His life. You will be challenged to do likewise by reading it. It’s a short book that packs a powerful punch. There are many versions of it available, so the one you purchase may not look like this, but you can click on the book title above to order it.

Get to know God’s nature and character through Bible study.
While he may act differently with different people because He has created each of us uniquely, He will never act contrary to His nature and character. For example, God’s ways are always loving. Even in discipline, He does so in love, always desiring a restored relationship. His heart is revealed in so many passages, but I like this one:

34“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Luke 13:34-35

Set aside times to be still before the Lord.
Our culture is fast-moving and it is seldom silent. All that noise and movement makes it difficult to find and see the invisible. After a personal three day retreat with the Lord at a local monastery, my husband described his quiet time alone with the Lord like this:

It’s like every noise and every activity is drawn on our soul. The soul gets over-crowded with such things, so we take an eraser and erase what we don’t need anymore. But the eraser leaves a chalky film behind. When I spent time quietly with the Lord, it was as if He had totally washed the slate board of my soul clean. There were no traces of all the gunk of the previous week. With the noise of my soul quieted, I could more easily see God in the world around me and hear His voice in my ear.

Do what He has revealed to you to do.
Earlier I wrote that we ought to have a predisposition that says “yes, I will follow You.” That’s step one. Step two is actually doing it. Having the predisposition toward obedience doesn’t take us all the way – we must actually make the decision to be obedient and then we must act accordingly.

Be obedient. If you don’t do what you know to do, God is not likely to show you more of the plan! By not being obedient, you are limiting how much of Himself God will reveal to you. He’s typically not going to reveal the next thing until you’ve done the first thing. Perhaps this verse reveals why:

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
James 4:17

We are actively sinning when we are not obedient to what God has revealed as His will for our lives. Deal with the sin if you want to hear more from God. Remove the veil that separates you from Him.

Well, that’s quite a list:

  • Engage your faith.
  • Be predisposed to follow wherever He leads.
  • Experience God’s presence regularly.
  • Get to know God’s nature and character through Bible study.
  • Set aside times to be still before the Lord.
  • Do what He has revealed to you to do.

Where are you weakest? May I encourage you to work in those areas, trusting that God is faithful and will meet you and reveal what you are to do? and may I encourage you to have a “full speed ahead” attitude toward following the leading of the Lord? He will reveal it when we are faithful to believe and pursue Him daily.

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