I'm reading a lot of Schaeffer books this year... this section from Edith's Common Sense Christian Living caught my attention.
... I would say that in my own pictorial view of seeking God's will I see a rushing stream in the mountains or fields, with stones big enough to out a foot on to cross. I picture God showing me one stone big enough to start across on, and then one stone on which to put my foot next. And then the waters whirl around, and I am to stay where I am, on that particular stone, until He shows me the next strep. To rush ahead on my own would be disastrous.
The Bible verses I would refer to for this kind of “waiting” are Isaiah 50:10-11. They are verses that have been a part of our prayer lists for L'Abri though the years. The contrast is a sharp reminder, time after time: “Watch out and don't light your own sparks.”
Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.
It is a warning to watch out for impatience in waiting to “get on with it,” whatever “it” happens to be. God tells us that to be in a fog, a dark place, to have no clue of what comes next, is to be in a place where we need to trust Him and keep our hand in His hand, waiting for Him to show us where to go or what to do next. The foolish choice is to turn away from the common sense realization that God means us to wait, and to insist on lighting our own flares.
...Today you and I are involved in a great number of things, fulfilling the purposes for which God has us where we are, doing the combination of routine or imaginative things we are doing. All right--you and I often want to know, “What comes next?” God is saying, “Trust me.” He is saying, “Stay in the place where you are until I show you [in a variety of ways, usually not mystical at all] what comes next.” He is saying, “Blessed is the person who waits in the dark, holding My hand.”
The contrast is the whole thing of choice again. There are those who don't want to wait for God, but who push that off in order to have their own choices. God's word to them is, “All right, choose to light your own sparks and walk in that self-made flare of light. You are free to make your own choice to do your thing. But, you will have this from My hand: you will lie down in sorrow.” It is the negative promise again, fairly and clearly.
As life continues, this thing of knowing the Lord's will is a matter of asking a day at a time, waiting for Him and waiting upon Him in prayer. Sometimes we find that He leads to a second stone that we think is to be permanent, but that turns out only to lead to another one in a year or two. That does not mean you did not know God's will for that time when you found a certain house, only to discover after fixing it up that your work was to be somewhere else and that house had to go! Now up goes a “for sale” sign, or a “for rent” sign on the place you felt would be your place of continuity!
You are not necessarily outside of the Lord's will if you get to Africa and find that you can't learn the language easily, or that you need to be in the hospital with malaria right away. He does not promise us that everything is going to go smoothly. The smoothness of the next step is not the criterion of your having found the Lord's will. satan would like us to be confused on that point! May we never forget it.