Don’t Get Fleeced!
October 24, 1993 | Ray Pritchard
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew. That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. (Judges 6:36-40)
Beginning with this message, we are taking a sharp right turn in our series on God’s will. Having laid that biblical foundation, we are going to look at some of the common problems and questions associated with the will of God. We’re moving from the general to the specific.
Our first question concerns putting out a fleece. If you were raised in the church, you probably recognize that expression. You’ve heard it somewhere along the way even if you don’t know what it means. Many of us have done that—we’ve put out a “fleece” as a means of determining God’s will.
A Pre-Determined Sign
What is a fleece? A fleece is seeking to learn the will of God by means of a pre-determined sign. People generally use a fleece when they come to a point of decision and don’t know what to do. Maybe you’re faced with a job offer and don’t know whether to say yes or no. So you say to God: “Please give me a sign.”
You are putting out a fleece when you say, “God, I am asking ou to give me a sign and this is the sign I want you to give me.” It’s that second part that really qualifies as putting out a fleece. It’s not just asking for guidance. It’s when you say, “Lord, I want you to do such-and-such, and if you will do what I have asked, I will know what your will is.”
“If I Can’t Move a Hurricane …”
I’ve mentioned before about Pat Robertson’s excellent book on the will of God, The Plan. In many ways it is very insightful. It was written in the aftermath of his failed candidacy for the presidency of the United States. Out of the wreckage and the hard lessons of his defeat, Pat Robertson wrote the book on finding God’s will for your life. In it he tells a fascinating story of how he finally made the decision to run for the office of President of the United States.
In 1985 word came that a hurricane was moving up the eastern coast of the United States. All the meteorological reports said that the hurricane was going to come on land in the Virginia Beach area which is where Pat Robertson has his headquarters. And this hurricane happened to be moving in just at the moment that Pat Robertson was mulling over the question of running for president. As he thought about it, it hit him that this would be a good fleece.
So he got on his knees and prayed, “Lord, if you want me to run for president, I want you to direct that hurricane out into the Atlantic Ocean.” That’s a fairly dramatic sign. It’s also clear and unmistakable. He was asking God for a change in the meteorological conditions so that the hurricane would change its direction. He gathered his staff together and prayed for the hurricane to change directions. His reasoning went like this: “Lord, if I can’t move a hurricane, how can I move a nation?” When the hurricane was 40 miles off of the coast of Virginia, it suddenly turned to the north and east and eventually drifted harmlessly out over the North Atlantic Ocean. Taking that as a clear sign from God, Pat Robertson soon decided to run for president.
Brock and the Deer
In his book Knowing God’s Will, Blaine Smith tells a story about a friend of his by the name of Brock who lived in the Washington D.C. area. Brock had a female friend named Kelly who lived in Texas. Brock and Kelly had always been friends, but they had never been romantically interested in each other. But as Brock was thinking about it, he realized he was beginning to have romantic feelings for Kelly. It happened that she was coming from Texas to the Washington D.C. area in just a few days. He wondered if he should say anything to her about the feelings that were developing on the inside.
While he was away on a prayer retreat, he decided to set a fleece out before the Lord. He said, “Lord, if you want me to pursue this romantic relationship with Kelly, may a deer cross my path. That seemed like a good bet since he was out in the woods at the time. Oddly enough, he saw all kinds of animals but didn’t see a deer.
He went home assuming that God was not going to grant his fleece. A few days later as he is driving along the beltway, he comes to the Tysons Corner exit, a heavily populated area. As he is driving off the freeway, he can’t believe his eyes. There’s a deer standing by the exit. He can’t believe it. God has answered his prayers. The fleece has come true. It must be God’s will for him and Kelly to be together romantically.
We’ll come back to Brock in Washington and Pat Robertson in Virginia Beach in just a few moments.
Before we do, however, I want to ask and answer a number of questions.
I. What Is the Biblical Background For Fleecing?
The answer to that question goes back to the Old Testament, back to the days of the Judges, back to the days of a man named Gideon. He was one of the unlikely heroes in the Old Testament, but God came to him one day and said, “Hello, mighty warrior of God, I am going to use you to deliver my people from the Midianites.” The Midianites were a vast army from the east who invaded Israel riding on camels. They came each year during the harvest time. They entered the land just as the Israelites were harvesting their crops. They would plunder the land, take the harvest, get on their camels, and head out of town, and then stay away until the next year’s harvest. Then they would come back in and plunder the harvest again.
So every year at harvest time the Jews were losing all their produce and everything they had worked for because the Midianites kept invading. The people of God were reduced to living in caves because they were so frightened of the mighty power of the Midianites.
And God tapped Gideon on the shoulder and said, “I am going to use you to deliver My people.” He is very clear on that point. “Gideon, you’re the man who will deliver my people.” He repeats it two or three times. Gideon says, “Who, me?” “Yes, you.” “You’ve got the wrong man.” “No, I don’t. You’re the man, Gideon.”
Before we go to the story of the fleece, note this fact: Judges 6 is perfectly clear that Gideon knew exactly what God wanted him to do. The fleece was simply to confirm God’s will, not to determine God’s will. He actually says as much in Judges 6:36, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised.” Verse 37 says, “Then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” No matter what conclusion you come to about the modern practice of fleecing, remember that originally it was used to confirm God’s will, not to determine it.
Gideon is one of the most fearful men in all the Bible. Although he was a great hero, he was also filled with fear. In twentieth century terms, he was a man with a low self-image. He didn’t feel very good about himself. He didn’t feel very good about his possibilities. Despite God’s word on the matter, Gideon doubted that God could use him to deliver Israel.
So he asks God to give him a confirming sign. “If you really want me to do this, give me a sign, Lord. I’m going to lay this sheepskin on the ground. Tomorrow morning when I get up, I want the sheepskin to be wet, and I want the ground to be dry. Let the dew fall on the sheepskin only and make it wet and let the ground be dry.”
The next morning, the sheepskin is just soaked with water, so much so that Gideon squeezed out a bowlful of water. That makes sense because a sheepskin would draw water out of the moisture out of the air. The only unusual fact was that the ground was bone dry. It was unusual but it was not absolutely impossible.
Gideon is still not sure so he timidly asks God to do it again, only backwards—the ground wet and the sheepskin dry. That would be much more unusual because the fleece would normally get wet from the dew. The next morning the ground is wet and the fleece is bone dry.
The message is clear. Gideon received doubled confirmation of what he already knew to be the will of God. Judges 7 tells the amazing story of how God used Gideon in a very unlikely way to win this great battle with the Midianites.
Not the Same
Before we leave this question, let’s nail down the central point. Our contemporary usage of the fleece is not the same as Gideon’s. We use the fleece today when we are uncertain about what God wants us to do. We don’t know whether to marry him or not, we’re not sure if we should send our kids to a public school or a Christian school, we’re torn between two good job offers, we don’t know whether to move to the suburbs or stay in the city. We use a fleece when we don’t know what God’s will is. But in the Old Testament Gideon already knew God’s will.
That’s a crucially important point. The fleece was never used to determine God’s will. The only time that it was ever used was to confirm God’s will which had already been made indubitably, repeatedly, unmistakably clear. Gideon knew God’s will. He was just scared to do it. So he was asking for a little extra confirmation from God.
When we use the fleece to determine God’s will, we are using it in a way that is different from the only time that it is used in the Bible. We use it to determine a decision. Gideon used it to confirm a decision. That’s a great difference.
Our contemporary usage is quite different. We use it as a pre-determined sign to ascertain God’s will. “I’m thinking about buying a new car. I don’t know whether I should or not. Lord, if you will send me $500 by tomorrow afternoon, that’s a sign between you and me, Lord. If you send me $500, then I’ll know it’s your will for me to buy a new car.”
Or maybe your boss offers you a new job. And you don’t know what to do. So you say, “Lord, if my boss calls me between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon, then I will know it is your will for me to take this job.”
Or maybe you are thinking about moving to another city. You’ve got a decision to make. Should I move or not? So you say, “Lord, I’m not sure what you want me to do, but if when I wake up tomorrow morning, and there are four inches of snow on the ground, I will know it is your will for me to move.”
Maybe you are a guy, and you’ve got a relationship going, and you find yourself falling in love. You are wondering if this is the girl for you to spend the rest of your life with. So you say, “Lord, when I see her after class tomorrow, if she smiles at me, that will be a sign that I’m to ask her to be my wife.” That’s a fleece. It’s a pre-determined sign that you use in order to determine God’s will.
II. What kind of faith did Gideon have?
The answer is that Gideon was a man of very weak faith. He was a man of faith as Hebrews 11:32 makes clear. But his faith was weak as Judges 6 makes clear. In Judges 6:12 the angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and says, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” In context, that is one of the funniest statements in the Old Testament. Gideon immediately starts to argue. “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, Didn’t the Lord bring us up out of Egypt? Now, the Lord has abandoned us.” He is just a negative thinker. He sees all the problems and none of the possibilities. “How can I be a mighty warrior? Where is God? Where are all the miracles?”
The angel of the Lord answered, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (6:14) Immediately Gideon starts to argue again. “But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord says, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
“Not me. You’ve got the wrong guy. Lord, I think you made a mistake. I come from Manasseh. Nobody great comes from Manasseh. My family is the weakest of all the families in Manasseh. And I’m the least in my own family.”
Gideon appears to be the Don Knotts of the Old Testament. There is no more unlikely person that God could have chosen to deliver his people.
So Gideon asks the angel to let him bring an offering as a sign that God is going to use him. The offering is immediately consumed with fire (6:17-25). It’s an absolute miracle. So he gets the sign he asks for.
We must evaluate the fleece episode against that background. Three times the angel said, “You are the man.” Then he asks for and receives a miraculous sign that he is the one. After all that, he is still unsure. “Lord, I know what you want me to do, but I still have my doubts. I’m insecure. I feel inferior. I don’t feel up to the task.” When the fleece is wet and the ground is dry, even that is not enough. You can hear apology in the words he uses—”Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request.”
What’s the point? Yes, Gideon was a man of faith. Hebrews 11:32 says, “What more shall I say? I do not have time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah…” Gideon made the New Testament Hall of Fame of Faith. He was a man of faith. But that cannot override the other side of the truth that he was a man of weak faith. If you make Gideon your model, you are patterning your Christian life after a man whose faith was weak.
Let me state this fact very clearly. I am not suggesting, and in fact I do not believe that what Gideon did was wrong. I’m not saying it was a sin to ask God for a fleece.
I am saying that it was a sign of his weak faith because he already knew what God wanted him to do. And I’m saying that if you make that a habit or a pattern in your life, it is a sign of weak faith in your life. When you look at Gideon’s life, you don’t see a man of great robust faith, you see a man of weak faith whom God used greatly. He is not a good example to follow at this point because his faith was weak.
III. What does the New Testament say about fleecing?
The answer is: Nothing at all. However, that’s a significant point. There are no examples in all the New Testament where anybody ever put out a fleece in order to determine God’s will. You may find it once way back in the Old Testament. I am not saying it’s illegitimate when Gideon did it. But I’m saying when you come to the New Testament—which is where you discover the basic rules for the Christian life—you never see the apostles doing something like this. You never read any passage where the Apostle Paul recommends to the believers at Rome or Philippi or Colosse that they should put out a fleece to determine God’s will. There are no examples of anything like that in the New Testament.
(I pause to interject that some people have found a parallel in the story of the 11 apostles casting lots in Acts 1 to find a replacement for Judas. First of all, it’s not parallel because the apostles truly didn’t know what God’s will was. Second, casting lots was an Old Testament practice that is used in Acts 2 as a kind of “holdover” during the transitional period before Pentecost. If the practice was valid—and Bible scholars have argued that point for centuries—it is evidently not meant as a precedent because it is never mentioned after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Third, casting lots was a recognized and oft-repeated Old Testament practice while putting out a fleece happened once and was never repeated. In light of that, it’s hard to see how Acts 1 parallels Judges 6 in any meaningful way.)
What do you find in the New Testament? You find passages like Matthew 12:38-39 where the Pharisees ask Jesus for a miraculous sign. “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!” Jesus replied. Please meditate on that carefully. Demanding miraculous signs from God is not necessarily a sign of strong faith. It may often be a sign of a very weak and immature faith. In this case, it’s a cover for an unbelieving heart. Jesus repeats his words in Matthew 16:1-4. When the Jewish leaders come asking for a sign from heaven, he says, “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” That is the sign of history. He is saying, “I’ve already told you everything you need to know about what God can do. Why do you come asking Me for something extra?”
And then we have the interesting case of Thomas—the man who would not believe until he put his hands into the wounded side of Jesus. What did he want? He wanted a sign from Jesus. He didn’t believe Jesus was risen from the dead. Thomas was the man from Missouri—unless I see it for myself, I won’t believe it.
What did Jesus do? He didn’t humiliate him or belittle his lack of faith. “Then he said to Thomas, ’Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe.’” (John 20:27) Jesus met him at the point of his weakness. But what did Jesus say next? “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (20:29)
There is one level of the Christian life that says, “Lord, you’ve got to show me first. I’ve got to see a sign before I will believe.” There is another level that says, “Lord, ou said it. I don’t see any signs. But I believe what you said—signs or no signs.” It’s better to say, Lord, I’m going to do your will—signs or no signs, fleece or no fleece.
When you know God’s will, you are to do it. Period. End of discussion. It is a weak form of Christianity that says to the Almighty, “You must meet my conditions before I will do your will.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 offers the biblical perspective: “We live by faith, not by sight.” You can say it another way: “We walk by faith, not by fleeces.”
IV. What are the dangers of fleecing?
I’ll mention three answers to that question. Number one, fleecing often leads to uncertainty and confusion.
Consider the example of Pat Robertson and the hurricane. When the hurricane turned away from the Virginia coast, he took it as a sign God wanted him to run for president. But his book makes clear that at that point he believed the sign meant not only that he should run, but that he should win. He believed the hurricane turning away meant that he would be the next president.
Somebody made a mistake somewhere. I don’t know what else to say about this. Somebody made a mistake somewhere along the way and it wasn’t God. I don’t mean that negatively because we’ve all made mistakes like that. But the observation is quite true that somewhere something went wrong in that whole process of interpreting the fleece.
“What About the Deer, Dear?”
Let’s go back to Brock in Washington. It’s Friday now and Kelly is arriving from Texas. Brock was so excited because he had seen the deer at the beltway exit, and he knows that it is God’s will for them to be together forever. As the weekend rolls on, she doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to him at all. Finally he is just bursting over with excitement, so he says, “Kelly, I have these deep feelings for you. Do you have any feelings for me?”
So he asks her—believing that God was in it, “Kelly, do you think there is even any possibility that you might have some feelings for me?”
Well, what about the deer, dear?
I don’t know, honey; that’s your problem.
What about the man who says, “I’ll buy this car if the Lord sends me $500 tomorrow?” What do you do if the next day you get $485? Do you say, “Close enough?” No. You asked God for $500. Does it have to be exactly $500 or are we talking “ballpark” numbers here?
There’s no way to answer a question like that with any certainty. Since you made up the “rules,” is it okay to “bend” them or are you then guilty of trying to help God out? That’s what I mean when I say that putting out a fleece leads to uncertainty and confusion.
Don’t Try to Manipulate the Almighty!
The second danger is that fleecing comes very close to attempting to manipulate God. The Bible repeatedly warns us against putting God to the test. What’s putting God to the test? It’s any attempt to box him in according to our standards. It’s any human attempt to say, “Lord, if you are going to work, let me tell you exactly how you have to work in my life.” God says, “It doesn’t work that way. I’m God, and you are not.”
Let’s go back to the example of the person who says, “I’ll take the new job if my boss calls me between 2:00 and 3:00 P.M.” Fine, but what if your boss calls at 1:30 P.M.? You have boxed God into a 60-minute period in your life. And that’s very close to putting God to the test.
The third problem is this: You end up shifting responsibility from yourself to God thus destroying the need for faith. That brings us again to a fundamental insight regarding God’s will. Generally speaking, it is not God’s way to show you your personal future. Most often, God shows you the next step and that’s all. Too many times fleecing is an attempt to get in through the back door what you couldn’t get in through the front door. It is an attempt to force God’s hand to show you the future. God says, “No deal. I don’t work that way.”
When I shared this with my congregation, someone said, “Your sermon on fleecing made one thing very clear. You still have to choose.” He’s right. You still have to take responsibility for your choices. Fleecing is an attempt to shift responsibility for our decisions from us to God, thus destroying the need for faith and responsible decision-making. Too often, we are trying to discover the future when God’s will is not that we should know the future but only the next step.
You still have to choose. After all the prayer, all the study, all the counsel, all the meditation, all the Bible study, all the thinking, all the writing down of options, after you’ve agonized, still the moment comes when you must decide. God won’t take the responsibility for you. If you’re going to take that new job, you’ve got to decide for yourself. If you are going to sell your house, you can’t wait for God to write a message in the clouds. You’ve got to sign the papers yourself. God isn’t going to do it for you. In the words of that great philosopher, Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Fleecing is an attempt to stand at the fork of the road forever without making a decision. Therefore, it destroys the need for faith and decisive action.
V. Is it always wrong to ask for a sign?
This part may be interesting to you in light of what I just said. The answer, of course, is no. It’s not always wrong to ask for a sign. It’s not wrong to ask for a sign if you are simply asking for guidance as to the next step you should take. “Father, make your will plain so I will know the next step.” Is that a fleece? No, because you are not boxing God in. You are just asking God to do what he said he would do—show you the next step.
It is boxing God in if you say, “Lord, in order to know the next step, I want my boss to call between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon.” That is almost descending to the level of black magic and superstition. There’s a huge difference between asking for guidance and trying to squeeze God into a mold of your own making. That’s the way we are. We want to squeeze God into our small definition. It is exactly right that we should say, “Lord, I stand on the verge of making a big decision. I believe this is the next step. I pray that you will make it clear to me.”
Is it always wrong to ask for a sign? No, it’s not. In fact, sometimes asking for a sign is nothing more than using sanctified common sense. In Matthew 10 Jesus talked about using sanctified common sense in discerning God’s will in certain situations. That’s the story where he sends out the Twelve, and he gives them the following instructions: “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your word, shake off the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more berable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. Therefore, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (10:11-16)
When They Start Shooting
Here’s a case where Jesus instructs his followers to look for certain outward signs in order to find God’s will. “When you go to a town, if they want to listen, preach to them. If they don’t, go some place else.” How’s that for strategy? If they will listen, stay there. If not, go someplace else. Shake the dust off your feet. Which being interpreted means: When they start shooting, it is time to leave town. Gunfire is a strong sign that it’s time to head on down the road. When they bring out the Uzis, you don’t need to pray about God’s will. Just hit the road running! That’s not a fleece. That is simply understanding that God is working through the circumstances of life. It’s using your brains to properly analyze the situation and draw good conclusions regarding what God wants you to do. That’s what I mean by sanctified common sense.
Is it always wrong to ask for a sign? No, it is not if you are asking simply for guidance and not trying to box God in.
Whenever I preach a message like this, someone will usually come up afterwards and say, “Pastor Ray, there was a point in my life when I put out a fleece, and God answered it. Not only did I put out the fleece, and he gave it to me, but I followed the fleece, and it was the will of God.”
Why should that surprise us? He did that for Gideon. God can do that today. My point is not that Gideon made a mistake. My point is that his faith was weak, and that’s not a very good example for us to follow. I am not saying that God will never do that. He might do it for you today. However, I”m suggesting that fleecing is not the best or most mature means of discerning God’s will for your life.
I believe there are probably two specific circumstances when God might answer a request for a fleece. One is if you are a young believer, very new in the faith, and you simply don’t know any better. The second is when the people of God collectively have come to an enormous crisis situation and they need some direct guidance from God. I believe God might do it then because that is more or less analogous what happened in Judges Chapter 6. I’m just saying you shouldn’t take Judges 6 and make it the normal, ordinary course of life because if you do, you are following a man whose faith was weak, and that’s not really a biblical way of doing things.
Sometimes God will condescend to reveal himself to us when we are spiritually immature so that eventually we will be able to walk by faith and not by sight and not be so dependent on outward circumstances for our obedience to him.
Three Crucial Conclusions
1. Fleecing can be dangerous, misleading, manipulative and lead to a subjective faith in God.
I think that should make it clear. I’ve already said that many believers use this method to determine God’s will. I’ve done it myself, too. If this is your habitual pattern for finding God’s will, stop. Stop. This is not the best way because you are in danger of putting God in a box.
If you haven’t used this method of finding God’s will, don’t start because it’s not the best.
2. Seeking wisdom and putting out a fleece are two different things.
Seeking wisdom means simply asking God for his direction for the next step without boxing him in. Putting out a fleece is an attempt to limit God in order to discover the future. And that’s not good. God will show you the next step. He is not committed to showing you the future.
It also helps to remember that seeking wisdom involves looking at relevant circumstances. Saying “I won’t buy that car unless I have $3000 in the bank” is not asking for a fleece; it’s simply a prudent financial decision. But saying “If it snows on July 4th, I’ll know God wants me to move to Detroit” is foolish because you are asking for a sign that has no relation to the decision you are making. To go back to Gideon for a moment, a wet fleece or a dry fleece had no particular connection to defeating the Midianites. It appears to be a purely arbitrary sign. That’s the difference between Gideon’s fleece and the servant’s request regarding the watering of the camels. The servant was asking for a sign—however unusual—that actually fit the need of the moment (the camels needed water) and his long-range goal (Rebekah’s response showed that she possessed the right qualities to be Isaac’s wife.)
A fleece involves selecting an arbitrary or unrelated sign that actually attempts to force God’s hand by causing him to reveal the future. Wisdom means asking God for specific guidance involving the relevant circumstances of the decision you need to make. You may need to think about that for a bit, but the distinction is both real and crucial.
3. Mature faith then relies less on spectacular signs and more on wisdom from God and sanctified common sense.
That sentence more or less sums up this entire message. My conclusion is this: Is it wrong to put out a fleece? No, it’s not wrong. Is it unwise? In my opinion, the answer is yes. Will God guide his children? Yes, he will. Does that mean we have to put out a fleece in order to help him to do it? The answer to that is no.
Do you know what our problem is? Our problem is we want to stay down at the baby level of Christianity. We want to stay in spiritual diapers so we won’t have to take responsibility for our own decisions.
What is it that God wants from us? Simple faith. No one has ever improved on the words of Solomon, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him; and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) “In all your ways.” Not “in all your fleeces.” There is a difference.
Our Father wants to bring us to the place where our trust is in him alone, not in circumstances, not in fleeces, not in things we can understand. He wants to bring us to the high point where our trust is in God alone.
There’s a phrase for it. Naked faith. God wants us to have naked faith. Faith in him apart from the circumstances, apart from the fleeces, apart from our own scheming and manipulation, nothing but faith in him alone. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and—with or without fleeces—he will direct your paths.