Discerning God’s Will: A Letter to a Son

An Unexpected Visit

IT WAS JANUARY 1, 2014 when I got an early call from Son 3. His big rig was broken down, and he had a day to kill while it was being repaired. His truck was stuck in a hole in the wall town on the I-5 just over an hour from us. I drove over and picked him up. We hadn’t seen much of my son ever since he had moved out of state and become a long-haul truck driver.

This was a treat! I fixed my son’s favorite breakfast: homemade pancakes with maple syrup made from scratch. A mother remembers what your kid likes. He spent some time with his sister playing video games and a good amount of the day talking with me. He asked many questions of me in regard to faith and the Church of the Brethren teachings of my childhood, as he began sharing with me his renewed and deepening walk with God. We talked about the will of God and how God works in our lives.

My son said something like this to me,

I don’t want to be a fifty-fifty Christian. I want to be one hundred percent otherwise it will not lead to happiness or contentment. A halfway Christian walks a tightrope between two worlds, the secular and the sacred. I just want to do what God wants me to do.”

This was surprising. He was speaking his truth and it came straight from the heart. He even looked different. His face was clear, looking free from worry and happier than I had seen it in years. I couldn’t help contrasting his present to his past, when he struggled with life, and struggled in general; those days when I worried about him and didn’t know how his life was going to play out. Seeing him now was like being witness to an astounding miracle.

We also talked about his future, what He believed God was calling him to do, and signs and wonders, and, lastly, how to discern God’s will. He believed God was calling him in a specific direction. I asked him “How do you know this?” I wanted to encourage him with his spiritual quest but with some caution. I shared bits of wisdom borne out of personal experience. I have seen people falter in knowing and following God’s will, and I didn’t want that for him.

The day was special. It was with a feeling of emotion that we drove him back to his truck, where he would sleep for the night. Over the next few days I thought a lot about our discussion about his future and God’s will. I found myself wanting to share more with him about what I have learned about these sorts of spiritual truths. They are never simple and they require a great deal of discernment and seeking, and keeping close to God. Otherwise we will find ourselves following our will, instead of God’s.


A couple of days later, I sent him this email as my thoughts returned to our discussion.

Dear Son,

God calls people in different ways. He may wish of you a different path than the conventional one. I do caution you to not put too much emphasis on signs. They are easily misinterpreted and misunderstood. God warns us to not put God to the test, which we do with some of these. Instead, move forward and ask God to “check”  you if it is not of Him. Stop if doubt formulates every time you think on some specific thing, even when it is a good thing. On the flip side, Satan also causes doubt in order to derail us.

The doubt must be figured out, if it is from God or if it is from the Enemy. I am talking in reference to direction and decisions, not about wondering if God will supply the answer. I have learned that God rarely shows us the future. Instead, He walks with us on the journey and opens the doors when we come to them. If we stay close to the Source, to Him, we will be in the center of His divine will, I mean, stay really close to Him, to where it is an on-going conversation, a relationship, not a one-way, one-sided trajectory.

I am like you, I have thoughts come to me while I am doing my daily tasks. However, they are not always God’s thoughts. Sometimes they are mine even when I’ve requested Him to speak to me. It takes time and practice to be able to discern God’s voice even when seeking Him intently. I do know, also, that if I have sin in my life, it will block the dialogue and influence the perception. We have to ask God to reveal our hearts and our wrong thinking.

Literally, it can take me an hour to three to get to the place where I know it is God’s voice, not always,  but when I am totally serious about something troubling me or an important decision, and still sometimes I don’t get there. It is like I have to pull off the layers of thoughts that crowd in that seem to be God at first. I do ask God if it is Him, but not very often. Usually there is a time quotient involved. Often the answer comes in stages.

Many works of God and fulfillment of prayers are answered over years, not days. I now understand this. I used to get impatient. As Treebeard says in The Two Towers, “Now don’t be hasty, Master Meriadoc.” That’s how it works most times. Even the work of God in your life started years ago and is in answer to mine and others’ prayers. I think of my friend who still prays for you every single day. Not many have a faithful prayer warrior like her. She gets credit in heaven for her faithfulness. I believe God put you on her heart and gave her that desire, a true “God Thing” and just because you remind her of her grandson who has turned away from things of God and that causes her pain.

Another thing I have noticed is this, a restlessness is present when God is wanting a change from me. That has been more true in recent years than in the past. Even in the restlessness, I have to wait, not act, until the time is right. Your future? I do not know, but I do believe you will know when the time is right.

You are to be faithful to the task He has given you to do. See it this way, I will be the best truck driver I can be with God’s enabling as I travel town to town and meet people in every place where I have a truck delivery. If you really want to be daring, surrender your job to Him and then see what happens! Ask Him to release you from your quietness and to place His words within you when you meet people on your journey. Start recording the things that are small miracles of God.

When you start looking, they start appearing. Small opportunities will happen when you do this. Many little things create big things. I do believe God will stretch you to a greater trust in this process of moving you from one job or occupation to another. He is stretching your faith and growing your godly character. He is creating a new inner person. I see it and believe it. Praise Him! To God be the Glory.

Hope this helps. I’m sharing with you things that have taken me years to learn.

Love you,



Dear Father God,

What a rich miracle it is to see my son turn his face toward you to receive your love in daily doses. Thank you for answering the prayers I have prayed for him. It is a miracle of your grace. You use time to answer our prayers of long standing. I love you, Lord. I give praise to you for your abundant mercies and unending love.

In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name, Amen


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N. L. Brumbaugh likes to write contemplative thoughts about authentic spiritual living. A lot of heart goes into every one of her posts. She is a mix of reading specialist, country woman, writer, church leader, and storyteller. Norma loves creative artistry and celebrating life.