We have heard several people speak of "fleecing" God for answers or making clear that it is in fact God's will. We know that Gideon placed a fleece before God (literally) for a confirmation but we also understand we are not to test God. So the question is: how do we go about fleecing God and is it proper to place specific conditions or timetables before him?
- CK, City Unknown
Caution - use fleeces sparingly (Part 1)
It is indeed true that Gideon placed a fleece before the Lord but it is important to remember that God was the initiator in that scenario. That makes a huge difference when we consider using a similar method to find God's will in a matter for our life.
In Judges 6, the story is told of Gideon who became a Judge in Israel. God asked him, a farmer with no military training whatsoever, to deliver his people from the Midianite oppressors. This was so far out of Gideon's comfort zone or box of thinking that he needed to make sure it was really God doing the asking. So he devised a system of tests revolving around the wool fleece of a sheep to confirm God's will.
If God calls you to a ministry or mission or specific task in life, I believe God will always be willing to graciously give you confirmation from a number of sources. The bigger the call, the more confirmation you may need to feel assured that God is with you in something you may consider impossible. A fleece seasoned with wisdom and much prayer may be one confirmation of what you already know to do anyhow.
Other than that I would say; CAUTION - USE FLEECES SPARINGLY. As far as how to design them, that's one of the inherent problems and is the reason they can cause confusion and doubt rather than clarification.
What if you say: "Lord if I don't have a date before the end of the month I'll know you want me to remain single." That type of fleece is riddled with problems and won't likely produce good results. Also, we usually put time frames on things when we get tired of waiting for answers. But God cannot be manipulated nor forced into our timeframes and over time we become too smart to even try.
Next: So how can I find out God's will for my life?
Some other ways (Part 2)
The best way to get direction from God is to be willing to do some hard work. It's not usually cut and dry (like a fleece), but sticky. We have to press in and get down to business with God and seek him. We have to be genuinely willing to hear his answer instead of only looking for what we want.
When seeking God for direction on any issue in your life, be prepared to hear the Lord in multiple ways. I have found that many times the answer comes as a consensus of all the ways I'm trying to hear. For instance, while reading God's Word, does a particular scripture jump out which may shed some light? And then while praying, does a spontaneous thought come to mind which gives a little more insight? Perhaps a friend makes an off hand comment which adds positively to the mix. Maybe a door closes which takes one choice out of contention. Perhaps a dream reveals the answer.
Little by little, inch by inch, God's will is discerned. The next time we come up against another decision, it may go a little differently. Rather than be frustrated by this, realize that God does not want a rote relationship with us. He is a real person and he wants us to communicate with him. He wants us to care more about him than the answer we are seeking. If he does things the same way all the time, we tend to see him as a vending machine.
One thing to keep in mind every time you seek God's direction: God wants you to hear his voice. He even promises that you WILL hear it. "When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice." (John 10:4)