Here are 3 signs that often mean God is leading you to move forward in a particular area of your life but to do so slowly.
1. If You Are Presented with a Wise Risk, God Is Often Leading You to Move Forward Slowly
It’s certainly unwise to jump headfirst into something you’re unsure about and leaving no room for error, putting all your eggs in one basket (so to speak). But it’s also unwise to never take a risk, obsessing over safety.
Sometimes, therefore, God will lead you to move forward but to do so cautiously. It’s not sinful to try something out to see what happens. For example: If you are unsure about a person, you don’t need to totally reject them or totally open your heart to them. You can move forward slowly, making more informed decisions as you gain more information.
Proverbs 11:15 states, “Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm, but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.” Taken too far, we can use this principle to never get involved with someone. But it doesn’t say never get involved with people. Rather, it states you should not make commitments with someone you don’t know very well. Once you get to know someone, then they are not a stranger, and then it would be a wiser risk to get involved with them. This takes time to do.
All that to say, don’t try to eliminate all risk from your life. Rather, try to avoid taking stupid risks that have a low probability of being successful; stay open to taking wise risks that could fail but also have a high probability of success. Sometimes you will need to back out, and sometimes you will need to move forward. Go slow and God will lead you (Proverbs 19:2, Proverbs 21:5).
2. If You Have Been Legalistically Passive in a Particular Area of Your Life, God Could Be Leading You to Move Forward Slowly
By the term “legalistically passive,” I’m talking about the type of person who has put so many rules into their life and relationships that it is basically impossible for them to do anything but sit still in their prison of safety.
Putting a guardrail at the edge of a cliff so people don’t fall off as they admire the view is a wise thing to do. But you don’t then need to put an even bigger fence up 50 feet away to make this extra safe. Yes, that would keep people safer, but then no one can admire the view. The same is true about the rules we follow in our lives.
Legalism occurs when we use man made rules to help us obey the actual rules in the Bible. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV), “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
For example, yes, there are some rules in the Bible for romance: Don’t be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14), guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23), avoid sexual temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18), and so on. Christians, however, often create extra relationship rules to try to help follow these rules: First you need to find someone who checks a million spiritual boxes, then you need to be friends for a really long time, then you need everyone in your life to agree this is a good relationship, then you both need to agree on every possible theological question, and most importantly you need a divine sign from God telling you this is the person you should marry. And all of this is needed before the first date. No wonder people like this remain single for so long.
So whether it be in relationships or another part of your life, if you have tried to obey God by creating more rules for yourself, perhaps try something different. Perhaps try living life but do it slowly and cautiously. Patience isn’t about sitting still your whole life to avoid danger. Patience is more about moving forward wisely in God’s timing.
3. If You Are Prone to Overthinking, God Could Be Leading You to Try Something New But Slowly
The safest place to live is in your own mind. Unlike real life, you get to control everything there. The only problem is you never actually live. Thinking about living is not the same thing as actually living.
Oftentimes what fuels this overthinking is fear. We feel like we need to know if someone is the one or is not the one before spending any emotional energy on this relationship because we don’t want to get hurt. Or we want to know that we will stay at this new job forever before we are willing to leave our old job. We don’t want to make a mistake in our careers, so we just sit there and keep thinking.
Planning and thinking are good. But so often we take it too far. Sometimes you just need to live your life and move forward. When in doubt, we typically do nothing. What if instead of just waiting for perfect clarity, you just did something?
You don’t need to quickly rush forward or sit still forever. You can move forward slowly (Proverbs 13:11).