Recently I read Elisabeth Elliot's book, God's Guidance: Finding His Will for Your Life. There is so much good in the book, I decided to highlight a few paragraphs that especially stood out to me. Elisabeth Elliot has such clear, simple faith.
On God's timing
When I review "all the way which the Lord my God hath led me"(Deut. 8:2)...I realize that nearly all of my trouble with finding out the will of God came because I wanted it too soon. I like to plan. I like to have things mapped out well in advance, and uncertainty of any sort puts me on edge. Perhaps it is for this very reason God has often asked me to wait until the last minute, right up to what looked like the screaming edge, before I found out what he wanted me to do. My acceptance of his timing was a rigorous exercise in trust. I was tempted to charge the Lord with negligence and inattention, like the disciples in the boat in a storm. They toiled frantically until the situation became impossible, and then instead of asking for Jesus' help they yelled, "Master, don't you care that we're drowning?" (Mark 4:38 PHILLIPS) They weren't perishing, they were panicking. It was not too late. Jesus got up and merely spoke to the wind and sea.
On that other occasion, many centuries earlier, when the power of God to command water was what was needed to lead his people, the priests of Israel actually had to get their feet wet before God did anything. Why does he put us to this kind of test? Probably to give us the chance to make a conscious act of faith, often a specific, physical act, a move of some kind toward him. "And when ...the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water.....the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap..." (Joshua 3:15-16 RSV)
On discerning God's will in light of our relationships
I have said earlier that God often isolates a man in order to reveal himself. It is when alone that a man most clearly recognizes God for who he is. But it is in relationship with his fellowmen that he comes to know himself. Seeking the will of God as though it had nothing to do with anybody else leads to all kinds of distortions.
On God's will in light of our circumstances
Circumstances are without a question a part of God's will. "We know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good." (Romans 8:28 PHILLIPS) This is a sweeping statement. But if God is in control of the big things, he has to be in control of the little things. He "pulls strings through circumstances," Jim Elliot wrote. It is a normal assumption of faith that he will use circumstances to nudge me in the right direction.
But we have to use our heads. I hope that, in studying the divine principles, we have not forgotten the importance of the human principle of common sense. The intelligence we have is a gift from God; the circumstances in which we find our selves he controls. Obviously, we have to bring our intelligence as well as our faith to bear on those circumstances.
"I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle." (Psalm 32:8,9 RSV)