By Malcolm Dunjey
Today, perhaps more than ever, people are asking, “what does God want me to do now?”.
The future may appear uncertain, considering current events, but my lifetime of experiencing God’s guidance has taught me how to recognise His voice in the wilderness.
At God’s direction, my wife and I have experienced dramatic and overwhelming changes to our lives.
First, we married and that’s one of the biggest steps of faith you can take.
Then over time, I transitioned from telephone technician to medical doctor, then specialist, and then ordained pastor.
We’ve lived in Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Yemen and the Northern Territory of Australia, with children in tow.
How did God “engineer” those momentous changes? My wife and I learnt how to hear His voice.
Here are six ways to recognise God’s guidance:
1. Read His word, and especially Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Claim that as a promise. Our part in that is to totally surrender to Him, really wanting His directions for life and obeying those directions when revealed. His part is to give us straight paths ahead with no forks.
2. Talk often (all the time) to Him. Discuss steps for clarification, “Really? Do you really mean that?” Such praying is indispensable for guidance.
3. Pay attention to the lives, examples and words of other Christians. The idea of Bangladesh came to us from an unsolicited invitation to a meeting, where the speaker told us of the need for doctors in Bangladesh. The next day, we received a Christian newspaper with the headline “Doctor Needed for Bangladesh.” We were amazed (even trapped), and we had to think and pray about Bangladesh. Our mission, Interserve, ultimately also steered us to the needs and opportunities in Pakistan and Yemen.
4. The “wet and dry fleeces” method used by Gideon in the Old Testament (Judges 5). It basically meant asking God to do something nearly impossible as evidence of God’s leading. I’m not happy with that seemingly bizarre plan, but it’s in the Bible, it worked for Gideon and for my wife, Audrey, when she asked, in prayer, for the Director of the Health Department to personally ring me and ask me why I hadn’t applied for a job he had advertised. He called and I got the job!
5. Another unlooked-for guidance step, physically unwelcomed, were our numerous health issues. Over a period of 70 years, there have been several major health problems giving rise to unexpected withdrawals from countries. Through the ironing out of circumstances, such as house, children, schools, money and so on, we saw God, who is in charge of circumstances and surprises, and recognised Him straightening out our path as promised in Proverbs 3:6.
6. The deep inner peace of God “which passes all understanding”, giving His seal to His plan. His plan wasn’t always easy and there had to be small, practical enabling steps like obtaining appropriate qualifications for the tasks ahead: a long-term plan to be completed before starting the above; making arrangements for the children; obtaining finance to live and work overseas (including support from family and friends); winning government approval to change regulations, getting agreements for projects and the granting of visas.
The Lord has also guided us through 65 years of happy marriage, with 23 children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. And that has been our greatest adventure of all.
Malcolm Dunjey is a retired minister and author.