In American football, the start of a play is usually hard-hitting as players strive to overpower their opponents. But at the close of a middle school game in 2016, the quarterback simply stood up and started casually walking toward his opponent’s goal line. The opposing team was tricked by his calm demeanor and let him walk for twenty yards before realizing what was going on, and by then it was too late. The quarterback scored and his team won the game—all because he started the play in a way that no one expected.

God can also do things in unexpected ways. When we read of God speaking to Elijah in 1 Kings 19, we’re tempted to think, Surely God is present in the earthquake and the fire, in such mighty works of nature—that has to be God! (1 Kings 19:11-12). That assumption seems logical, but Elijah found that God isn’t limited to speaking through one type of circumstance or another. The prophet learned instead to focus on God’s voice—not his difficult circumstances.

I often over-rely on circumstances to determine whether God is at work or not and find myself saying things like, “I felt this sense of peace, and so it must be God,” or “Everything came together so easily that God must have been at work.” Events in life can be used by Him to guide us, but it’s vital that we carefully, prayerfully consider what to do.

Moses didn’t feel a sense of peace when called by God and neither did Gideon (Exodus 3:11; Judges 6:15). The best way for us to sense God’s leading isn’t by focusing on our feelings or circumstances, but by carefully seeking God’s wisdom. The Holy Spirit can use prayer, Scripture, and the godly counsel of others to help us make the right decisions—even if they’re unexpected.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 19:1-27