Trying to Figure Out God’s Odd Leading in Your Life

Christmas shows us God’s leading proves wiser than our impatient pleas for progress.

God’s leading and timing in our lives often don’t make sense. We know that almost 2,000 years ago Joseph and Mary journeyed to Bethlehem. But we forget that approximately 2,040 years before they did, Jacob and Rachel, another expectant couple, traveled south along the same road.

God's Unusual Leading in Your Life

(Photo: Anton Raphael Mengs. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, but died soon after delivery, and Jacob buried her near Bethlehem (Gen. 35:19). Rachel’s death foreshadowed the devastation that the territory of Benjamin would suffer in Jeremiah’s time:

Rachel is weeping for her children . . . Because they are no more. —Jeremiah 31:15

Yet the prophecy found its final fulfillment in Jesus’ day, when Herod the Great slaughtered all baby boys in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:17-18). So, at God’s direction, Joseph fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to live until Herod’s death.

Each movement of Jesus’ family finds its cause in God’s revelation to Joseph:

  • Fleeing Bethlehem to Egypt
  • Returning from Egypt to Israel
  • Avoiding Judea to settle in Galilee

God’s purposes for these moves lay first in the protection of His Son, but Matthew notes that each directive also fulfilled Scripture. I doubt anyone but God saw beforehand the murky prophecies fulfilled by these geographic moves. But in hindsight, they become clear.

God’s leading and timing in our lives often don’t make sense either.  At least at first.

God’s Odd Leading

We want to follow God, but we often don’t see Him leading.

  • For years we pray for a loved one’s health, for a friend’s salvation, or for a missionary to receive funds.
  • We plug away endlessly at a miserable job with no promotion.
  • We ask God for help, but He doesn’t answer our prayers.

Yet when we look back in hindsight, we actually come to appreciate how God led us—and all the victories and failures along the way—to prepare us for something we felt ready for much earlier.

God’s Odd Plans for Your Year

As we anticipate next year with all its uncertainties, we can take comfort that our God sees the future as clearly as the past. We will discover that in our simple obedience to God’s Word, He has guided us along paths far too complex for us to see at the time.

Eventually, His leading and His timing become clear.

Jacob Jordaens the elder (Flemish, 1593-1678). 'Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt,' 1647. oil on canvas. Walters Art Museum (37.2368): Museum purchase, 1954.

(Photo: Jacob Jordaens. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

We never see Joseph questioning God’s odd leading, though he couldn’t have possibly understood it all. But what Joseph did understand offers us a great model. The Lord leads us with His wise—but often unusual—directives, always rooted in Scripture, for our good and for His glory.

Time and again, God’s odd leading proves wiser than our impatient pleas for progress. Consider, would He not receive more glory from our lives if we trusted Him along the path of the unknown than if we saw His purposes from the start?

Question: What are you trusting God for this year? To leave a comment, just click here.

Going Places with God- A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the BibleLike This Post? Get the Whole Book!

This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible.

• These 90 devotional readings, each based on a specific place in the lands of the Bible, will help you apply the truths of God’s Word to your daily journey of faith.

• You’ll enjoy pertinent Scripture, inspirational quotes, photographs, maps, and a daily prayer.

After going places with God, you’ll never be the same.


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  • Tanya

    I am trusting God to reveal my shortcomings, and His glory. To make me understand Him and take away what I think I know. Because if I have learnt one thing; we are created by God as the power source of all we are and do. We cannot do anything worth having; apart from Him. Make me teachable Lord, bend me till I know my place.

    • That is a good prayer and a good place to be, Tanya. Thank you.

  • Camille

    I am trusting God for clarity and direction for His purpose in my life. ( I only want His will.)

    • Yes, Camille, I’ll join you in that prayer. Clarity and direction in God’s will. Very well said. God bless you as you wait on His leading.

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  • Great post. I am trusting God to lead us to where we are tob live and serve in April when our lease and my husband’s job is over. I was thinking how Mary and Joseph couldn’t have imagined even a small amount of God’s plans. It gives me peace to know we don’t have to figure it out, just follow.

    • That’s exactly right, Seana. His plan is far more magnificent that we can imagine. Step by step, we follow the light on the path. Looking back, I could never have imagined a position that fit me so well, but God knew—because He was fitting me for it.

  • Waiting patient(ly)

    For next year I’ve sensed God’s prompting to do very little, next to nothing except going to work and taking care of my family. I’m trusting Him to have a purpose for that. If I will know what it is this year, next year or never, I don’t know. It goes against my usual way of thinking and acting but I’m going to follow and see what grows out of it. Hopefully a more intimate relationship with the Lord.

  • Carl Rasmussen

    Thank you for your tri-weekly blog posts! Merry Christmas!

  • We just heard back from 3 possible jobs for my husband for next year that want to continue interviewing. It is so comforting to ķnow God will move us to the place He already planned.

    • Great news, Seana! Can’t wait to see how God leads.

  • Walt

    I trust God to open the doors to a new ministry for my son. I’m excited to see what He is going to do. He does “exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine”. (Ephesians 3:20) I’ve seen Him do it too many times to doubt.

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