Discerning God's Will - Part Two - Fleeces, Obstacles, and Such

How do we find God's will?  A timeless question.

Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this question.  When he attempted to go into Bithynia, the Spirit of Jesus did not allow him to continue on.  Paul was trying to go somewhere God did not want him to go.  He initially misunderstood God’s will.  If Paul can screw discerning God’s will up, so can we.
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.  Acts 16:6-7 (ESV)
It would be nice if Luke in writing the book of Acts told us how the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them into Asia, but it doesn’t.  And I think this omission is intentional.  If the Bible told us some specific way to know God’s will, then that would be the way we would always use.  We would be become reliant upon a divining ritual rather than a relationship with the Divine. 

What seems to be a closed door might not be a closed door but an obstacle to overcome.  The key to knowing God’s will and doing what He wants us to do in life is to have our heart surrendered to God and learn to listen to his often quiet, guiding voice inside us – the place where the Spirit dwells.  Sometimes circumstances that would appear like a closed door might just be a setback that we have to have the will to persevere through.  Other times, what might seem like a minor hurdle might be a stop sign from God.  We have to learn to be able to listen to the voice of God in our hearts.  There is no easy formula, but learning to listen in our hearts is the only way we can discern whether a setback is an obstacle to overcome or a closed door prompting us to put the brakes on. 

Gideon, a biblical character full of doubt, was told by the Lord that He would be used to free Israel.  Gideon did use a method that we could turn into a formula, although I would not advise it.  What it does show though is that God is willing to make His will clear to you when you genuinely seek it even if you are full of doubt and fear.  
Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.   Judges 6:36-40 (ESV)

God was willing to reaffirm his calling to a doubting Gideon, and He will do the same for us.  Although it will prove useful to remember that there really is no set formula, just a relationship with God that He can lead through.