I had a conversation a number of years ago with my good friend Bucky Dennis. We were taking a prayer walk together and I was wrestling with a decision; I was anxious about choosing the “right” path. Bucky listened with great compassion and when I ran out of words he told me a story he’d read recently:
The great teacher of ethics John Kavanaugh visited Mother Teresa while working for three months at her “house of the dying” in Calcutta. He was seeking clarity from God on the direction for his future. She asked him, “What can I do for you?”
He asked, “Pray that I have clarity.”
Mother Teresa said firmly, “No. I will not do that.” He was surprised and asked her why. She explained, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
Taken aback, he said, “But you seem to have clarity from God.”
Mother Teresa laughed, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.” (Brendan Manning tells this story in Ruthless Trust on page 5.)
Trust in God vs. Seeking Clarity
Trust. Not clarity. Trust in God with you when you’re not sure what the best decision is. That is the best wisdom for seeking God’s will.
Of course, it’s a blessing when we do have clarity, but often we don’t and striving for clarity puts our attention off of the greatest blessing of all which is that the risen Christ is in our midst right now, wonderfully at work, and we can join his work, learning from him and loving the people around us in his name.
Dallas Willard writes, “Many people seek to hear God solely as a device for securing their own safety, comfort, and righteousness” (Hearing God, p. 28). When we’re obsessing about getting clarity from God on a decision we may be using him as a device rather than worshiping him as Divine. Trusting God is a risk that throws us on his mercy. It means clinging to him in love and finding that he is enough, more than enough! Being with the Lord Jesus Christ in God’s kingdom we have every reason to be happy!
Abraham Ventured on God
I often remind myself of Abraham’s trust in God. “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents… Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10, MSG).
Don’t think Abraham’s faith was a “blind leap” in the dark! His venturing into the unknown was based on his knowing the unseen Lord in the unseen city. He appreciated the Lord’s company and he knew to follow him step-by-step. His faith-trust was based on rock solid spiritual knowledge of the eternal God.
Lord God, we worship you as the one who is good and beautiful, all-wise and wonderful. Just being with you on our life’s journey is our joy! Teach us what it means to follow you in the trust of Abraham: he didn’t know the way to the Promised Land, but he he knew that you were with him. Lacking clarity, he trusted you and followed you one step at a time. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
For further consideration on trusting God with your decisions you can try our Lectio Divina Guide, “Join Abraham’s Pilgrimage of Faith.” Our Scripture meditation guides are free, one page sheets designed for individual devotions, small groups, and sharing with a friend.