In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus tells Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon informs him that they’ve been out there all night, and haven’t caught a thing. But, he does it anyways, and they catch so many fish, their nets begin to tear.
Sometimes, Jesus asks us to do something that seemingly makes no sense. When we do it anyways, we reap an abundant harvest, just as Simon and the other fishermen did.
The trick is knowing when a prompting is of the Spirit. It might just as well be of our own manufacture – as Peter experienced during the Transfiguration when he wanted to build tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Or, worse, it could be the manufacture of a very different spirit – for example, the spirit that prompted Judas to betray Jesus for a bag of coins.
First, we ask ourselves, does this appear to be of God? God is all loving and all merciful, so a prompting that is not rooted in love and mercy must clearly not be from him.
After that, we might turn to the counsel of Godly friends, our priest or pastor, or our spiritual director. Having another person’s perspective on matters is always beneficial.
Ultimately, though, I find that patience and prayer are the most sure ways to know that I’m following Christ’s will, especially when he seems to be prodding me in inexplicable directions. The question, “Really, God? You seriously want me to do this?” is perfectly valid, as long as we ask it with a willingness to respond according to his answer.
When the prodding remains after much prayer and discernment, we are called to step out in faith and trust. Even if we have misunderstood God’s call in our lives, he will bless us in our efforts and willingness to be pleasing to him. We may make mistakes, but his correction will be both loving and gentle.
Ultimately, God doesn’t expect perfection, only a desire to seek perfection, and a willingness to please.