Humility of Our Mysterious Purpose
by Sam Williamson
Two and a half years ago, my wife and I decided
to sell our house. We followed commonsense
wisdom: we decluttered closets, upgraded
appliances, and replaced old wallpaper with
Then we put our beloved house on the market.
And nada. Well, not quite nothing. We had
multiple almost-buyers, couples who
claimed they would make an offer by the weekend.
But an obstacle always cropped up, a pregnancy,
an illness, a job change, and a declined loan.
We were bewildered. The price was reasonable
(based on comparable homes), the house was
gorgeous (no bias on my part), and the Ann Arbor
real-estate market had taken off like a
ballistic missile (houses often received
multiple offers the day they were listed).
Where was God in the seemingly senseless delay
in selling our house?
Last week we finally got a good offer which we
accepted. My immediate thought was: God must
have waited for the perfect family to buy, or
else God was waiting until the right home came
on the market for my wife and me. This
morning I read,
“Just as you cannot
know how a spirit comes into the bones in the
womb of a pregnant woman, so you cannot
understand the work of the God who created all.”
I thought: Is it possible for me to know
even a fraction of the purposes of God?
The Old Heroes Never Knew
The book of Job begins with a series of
tragedies. Most of its forty-two (42!) chapters
deal with ignorance of God’s plan: Job
continually asks God “Why?” and his friends
continually offer stupid answers. In the book’s
conclusion, God never answers Job’s question.
Some characters in Scripture, however, are
given a hint of God’s plans, but their
understanding of his rationale is a shadow of
its true substance:
- After Joseph saves his family (and hundreds
of thousands of others) from starvation, he
says to his brothers, “You meant it for evil,
but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
- When David realizes that God taught him
fighting skills while he was a mere shepherd,
he writes, “You trained my hands for war and
my fingers for battle.” (Psalm 144:1)
- Esther wins a beauty pageant and becomes
Queen of Persia, her people are threatened,
and she realizes she was brought to the palace
“for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
Job never heard God’s purpose, while Joseph,
David, and Esther got hints. But none of them
thought for a moment that millions of people
would be reading their stories thousands of
years later. Did they have a clue of the hope
their lives would bring us?
I think not.
For Our Own Good, God Can’t
Imagine that God told Job: “You are about to
undergo suffering. Be patient. It will only last
six months. Afterward you will be blessed even
more than beforehand. And you will be revered by
millions of people for millennia.”
If Job knew of that future for his life, he
wouldn’t have learned to rest in God; he would
have rested his heart in that impressive
calling. He would never have said God is enough;
instead of finding life in God’s presence, he
would have found self-fulfillment in his own
Our purpose on earth is friendship with God, to
be united with him for his purposes, and to
believe that God knows what he is after. In
God’s wisdom, he guides us one step at a time,
so we walk in humility and faith, connected to
him, never knowing his manifold plans.
I don’t know why our old house didn’t sell for
two years, and I don’t know why we can’t find
the next house we so desperately want.
The question for me is connection not purpose:
Can I walk with God into the unknown?
Sam Williamson has published
numerous articles and has written two books.
has a blog site, www.beliefsoftheheart.com,
and can be reached at
Praise for Hearing God in
“In this book, Sam
Williamson shares his deep spiritual
wisdom with a kind of disarming humility
that will help readers hear God’s
extraordinary voice as an ordinary life
experience.” – Jean Barbara, president of
Sword of the Spirit
“I’ve just finished reading Sam
Williamson’s compelling book on hearing
God. Sam treats this crucial subject
with wisdom, humor, and deep conviction.
His highly readable personal stories and
spiritual insights will surely inspire
many to pursue with greater confidence the
life-changing experience of daily
conversation with God. Hearing God in
Conversation is a helpful and
well-balanced spiritual guide which I
would not hesitate to recommend to men and
women from all the Christian traditions
who hunger to walk more closely with God.”
– John Keating, Servants of the Word elder
It is a tragedy that so many Christians
believe that God does not speak to them.
This book is one of the best I’ve seen at
equipping ordinary people to listen to God
in everyday life. I especially loved the
description of how to “brainstorm with
God” – what a wonderful way to demystify
the process of seeking guidance.
Most importantly, the author puts the
emphasis where it should be: on a
biblically grounded, conversational
relationship with God in which we let God
take the lead. If you’ve ever
secretly longed for your friendship with
God to be much more interactive than it is
and you are finally ready to do something
about it, read this book. – Thomas E.
Bergler, Professor of Ministry and
God in Conversation: How to Recognize His
Voice Everywhere, by Samuel C.
Williamson, published by Kregel
Publications, 2016, available from Amazon
photo by Tegan
Mierle on Unsplash