What is God’s will for me? That’s not an uncommon question. Particularly for those who are seeking to live out the Christian life well, the desire to understand what the Lord wants for us is prominent.
But sometimes, it just doesn’t seem clear. We aren’t sure what He intends. We may have some vague sense or some general direction, but we still long for greater clarity. And, in such moments, we can wonder: “Am I doing something wrong? Is the Lord upset with me over something? Is that why He’s not providing me more clarity?”
In Luke’s account of the spread of the Gospel (in Acts), Peter might just be having one such moment–some sense of the Lord’s direction, but with a significant lack of clarity.
In Acts 10:1–8, a God-fearing Gentile named Cornelius gets a visit from an angel sent by God. The angel appears in a vision and gives Cornelius very specific instructions. Cornelius knows what to do, down to the location where he will find a guy named Simon Peter (10:5–6) and why he should send for this guy (10:22, 30–33).
In the same chapter, we read of Peter’s exchange with the Lord. Peter gets a vision (10:9–17); but, surprisingly, he is left puzzled. Then the Spirit speaks to Peter about the men who have shown up to take him to Cornelius’ house (10:19–20); however, the Spirit neither explains to Peter the meaning of the vision nor the reason the men are there looking for him (10:21, 29).
The Lord communicated with specificity and clarity to Cornelius. But Peter? He apparently is left more than a little puzzled. He doesn’t have all the pieces to make sense of what is going on. Did the Lord mumble when speaking to Peter?
If we (rightly) conclude that the Lord communicated precisely and clearly the way He intended to in the varied way He spoke with Peter, then how do we make sense of the account? Perhaps a few suggestions will help:
Maybe the Lord was giving Peter what he needed to know in an incremental way so that Peter would keep on trusting the Lord each step along the way. The Lord was not mumbling but only giving Peter clarity one piece at a time.
Maybe the Lord was providing Peter bite-sized instructions knowing that Peter was going to need some time to digest what the Lord was calling him to do. The Lord was not mumbling but only giving Peter directions he could more easily manage.
What does this mean for us? We can rest in the Lord’s ability to communicate clearly what He wants for us. We don’t have to panic if things seem a bit puzzling. We can be content in knowing what the next simple step is. And we can be sure that when we need more clarity, the Lord won’t mumble. He will tells us what we need to hear from Him exactly when we need to know.