It was my senior year of college, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life. So I began asking for advice from trusted mentors, and one suggested that I go to law school. Although I initially balked at the idea, after I did some research, law seemed like a good fit for me — I had a knack for writing, analysis and oral argument (just ask my mother). But the problem was that I had originally planned to become a missionary after college, so I felt uneasy with the idea of pursuing a career that would bring worldly success.
I had gotten input from wise counselors, and furthermore, the idea made sense on paper; but I wanted to hear from God, so I asked Him to give me a Scripture that I could hold onto as I moved forward. Shortly thereafter, an obscure verse came to mind and seemed to be the answer to my prayer. It was from Genesis 12:1, which says, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.'” It wasn’t a verse that I had memorized or that had stood out to me before; it just floated to the surface and seemed to speak into my circumstances.
The command from God to Abram was faith-provoking: Go.
Where? Into a land.
What land? The one I will show you.
And with that much certainty, I continued moving forward with my plans for law school, believing in faith that God would fill in the details.
During my last semester in college, I was at my part-time job one day when I ran into a Christian lady who was on her break. She asked me if I was ready to begin law school, and I said, “I’m actually pretty nervous, but I keep reminding myself of how the Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your family and your father’s house and go into a land I will show you.'”
“Oh my goodness, look at this,” said the lady, pointing at a page in her Bible study book where she was holding her place. Genesis 12:1 was right there in the middle of the page in big italicized letters.
“Whoa,” I said. “I’m pretty sure God just spoke to me.”
Five days later, I was talking to a financial adviser from my church about law school, and he suggested that I work for a year and save money for law school. Without giving him any details, I told Him that the Lord had recently made it very clear that I was on the right track with my decision to enroll in law school. The man said, “Well, I guess it’s like the Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country and your kin and go to the land that I will show you.'”
My jaw dropped, and after I explained why his seemingly random Scripture choice was so significant, we were both in awe.
As if those divine interruptions weren’t enough, on my last Sunday before moving to law school, my pastor opened up his Bible and said, “Our text comes from Genesis 12:1,” and then he read the verse and preached a sermon that seemed like it was tailored for me (just to be sure, I asked if he did it intentionally by any chance — he didn’t have a clue). And then eight years later, after a time of upheaval in my life, I started a new job and told my boss that I felt God had called me to be at that workplace, even though I wasn’t sure what it would mean for me in the long run. She immediately replied, “It’s like the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go into a land I’ll show you.'” You can imagine how comforting that was.
What Faith Normally Looks Like
To this day, I’m grateful God gave me that verse to hang onto as I moved into my career. His occasional Genesis 12:1 reassurances have been a great comfort to me in the many mundane moments of legal practice when I’ve wondered if I could be doing something more effective like helping kids in third-world countries. Most of the time, though, people don’t randomly quote Genesis 12:1 when I need to know if I’m doing the right thing. Instead, I’m usually left to discern His will the way most of us are: By meditating on the God-breathed truths of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16); getting advice from an abundance of godly counselors (Proverbs 11:14); and listening to the voice of wisdom, who “cries aloud in the streets” through common sense and circumstances (Proverbs 1:20).
I know, it seems so dry, so unappealing — like a cheap imitation for really hearing from God. We would rather receive directions in an audible voice when we wake up in the morning; we want God to write messages in the sky with blazing red letters every time we’re at a crossroads. And if God allowed that, then not only would Scripture, other people and prayer be unnecessary, faith itself would be unnecessary.
Folks, we don’t want to outgrow our need to walk in faith, and the reason why is because Jesus is the very source of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Therefore, any experience that requires us to put our faith in action has the potential to be a powerful encounter with the Lord. Although it may feel like holy guesswork a lot of the time, the Lord is there shepherding us, using His Word, other people and circumstances to make it clear what we’re called to do. So invite Him to give you Scriptures that will provide clarity in decision-making; surround yourself with people who walk closely with Him; and remember that sometimes, one of the holiest things you can do is use common sense.
Any one of these three elements of decision-making are eventually going to rub up against our desires and call into question the wisdom of our plans, which is why godly decision-making will not only be humbling, but oftentimes painful. The good news is, if you move forward in humility, you’ll be imitating the one who humbled himself and “learned obedience,” just like we have to (Hebrews 5:8).