How could he know?
“I feel it in my bones,” he said yesterday. “Tonight will be our coldest night.”
And just look at this!
We never had a reading like this. And no, the thermometer’s not broken—although on first glance I thought it must be!
He’d heard no weather forecast. He “just sensed it.” And he didn’t mean “in his bones” literally; no arthritis gives him pain clues. Yet this man often forecasts better, by his “sensing,” than the hard-figuring, high-tech weathermen.
Because he’s very present in the weather here, in this little odd pocket, day after day. You could say he abides in it, he’s intimate with it.
He’s like the fishing boat captain who always awed my dad by how he knew exactly how to get to port from a spot way out there in that ocean, under full cloud cover with no clues in the waters my dad could discern. That man could sense the right direction from having spent so much time abiding in those waters, growing intimate with them.
Which brings me to spiritual discernment.
Sometimes choices confront me where no clear black-and-white anywhere in scripture defines “this” as right and “that” as wrong. Sometimes it’s not even a gray area, but just a desire for God’s best preference.
I know, lots of believers don’t bother about this, figuring whatever we choose beyond black-and-white is okay. Maybe it is “okay,” but I’ve wasted too much earth time meandering around the land of “okay”—and have learned not to trust my own heart (Jer 17:9 ). Besides, “okay” equates with mediocrity. My King deserves more.
So, at times like these, I’d like my directions blazed across the sky, or shown by some unquestionable arrow sign popping up to indicate which “y” to take up ahead (or a stop sign halting me right where I am).
But God doesn’t do such things often. And even when He does, uncertainty still can plague the seeker’s heart. I think of Gideon. Of Moses…
Yet this I’ve noticed in this year of AWARE: Drawing close to His presence, coming aside from all else, helps me immeasurably to sense more clearly what will please Him best.
It’s like the way you get to know your spouse’s or best friend’s preferences from having gotten so close in their life and intimate with their heart. Or, like the man often “abiding” out in the local weather’s “presence” subconsciously “reading” its little nuances you or I would never notice.
As he “just knew” sometimes with the weather, I realize sometimes I’ve “just known” with the Lord—when I had been abiding, when I’d been looking to Him alone, having come aside from all the earthy clues.
In fact, in choosing between two options, I’ve often found that when I was much “in the world,” and listening to its mindset, I inclined toward one option, yet while settled quiet with God, His word in my lap or just His Spirit around me, my mind and heart all-focused on Him, settled in Him, the other option left me peaceful as I inclined toward it!
Yes, I must know His printed word and search it for particulars, but I need as much to know Him, His “heart,” to best discern what option moves in sync with Him. To do that I must spend both quantity and quality time very present with Him. Then I can (sometimes at least) sense it “in my bones.”
Very Useful Appendix
How George Mueller Determined God’s Will in Any Matter
1. I seek to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in a given matter. When we are ready to do the Lord’s will—whatever it may be—nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome.
2. Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If I do so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
3. I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, God’s Word. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures, never contrary to them.
4. Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
5. I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me.
6. Thus, through prayer, the study of the Word and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge. If my mind is thus at peace and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. I have found this method always effective in trivial or important issues.
-From his authorized biography