God’s Personal Guidance & Direction
A desire to obey God in seeking out His will, as the Holy Spirit works within us, is the life-long endeavour of a Christian. This is done with godly fear and trembling. Whilst our affections are to be set on things above, it is God who works in us both to will and to do because this pleases Him (Phil 2:12-13; Col 3:2). God referring to King David as ‘a man after my own heart’ was prophetic of the righteous Christ Jesus who was fully obedient to God’s will, even to the agony of death on the Cross. Only cloaked in Jesus’ righteousness can we ever be, as David was, declared as men and women after God’s own heart. After all, in newness of life we are made in Christ’s image with hearts of stone turned into hearts of flesh. We learn that, in Christ, we are more than conquerors over sin, even at times when we fall short and falter in our obedience, because Christ who has put sin to death is our victory over sin. Do we own Him, as He owns us (Phil 3:12b), as we press on in our travel along this life’s journey? When that journey comes to a conclusion here on earth, our greatest hope would be to hear the words of our Master saying “well done, good and faithful servant…. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21).
The reality of this may seem distant, under the daily grind of life and its myriad of decisions. Such considerations as above may be confined to the esoteric, seemingly with little practical everyday realism. Obedience? Conquerors? Faithfulness? One may be inclined to sigh and exclaim, “this is far-fetched… you know, just a little too hard, lacking in the details. What about matters like future vocation, whom to marry, where to live, what house to purchase? How am I certain of victory over sin in even making these decisions, let alone the day-to-day ones? How do I know what God wants me to do specifically in these situations anyway?”. Such inquiry lends itself to the central question of what is God’s will (for me) and is it specific? That is to say, does the Lord guide? Does He really? The emphatic answer to that is: Yes, He does, specifically and individually!
The elders have been reading and meditating over a book called The Everlasting God by Broughton Knox. A meditation on who God is could only come to the view that He is like no other. His sovereignty over all things encompasses His attributes of infinite power, wisdom and goodness. Flowing from His goodness is His covenantal responsibility to His creation, in particular, how He relates to man in authority, judgement and providence. This relationship is continually effectual in His will being accomplished without an iota of deviation from it, often without His creation being aware of this. God, who is unchanging (His immutability), actively holds all things together in the sovereignty of His care (Col 1:17). He does so to a scale of the enormity of the universe, numbering and naming all the stars (Psa 147: 4-5). His care encompasses the minutest of details. We need only look down the microscope to behold the wonders of His creation and be humbled, not only by His creative power, but by how He holds it all together (Heb 11:3). We learn from Jesus that God numbers every hair on an individual’s head (Matt 10:30). Can one then come to a conclusion that God does not guide us individually? Can one doubt that He would guide in specific details of significant matters unique to each person? It would be inconsistent and incompatible with His nature that His scripture has revealed to us. A search for words such as guide, guidance, teach, instruct, counsel and help will bring up many scriptural references, telling us that He does guide and does so specifically, in varying contexts and circumstances. That is the scriptural pattern seen.
This is our hope and comfort that our Saviour is not afar off, not someone who pulls us out from drowning in a pool of sin and then leaves us to fend for ourselves, saying, ‘see you on the other side’. Is it excellence for parents to bring up a child with broad strokes in guidance and teaching without attending to their unique circumstances and need? It would be easy to think, as some modern philosophers do, that God’s guidance is general and not specific. That perhaps God considers it is up to mature Christians to make their own choices and make up their own mind using common sense as long as it does not transgress general moral, scriptural values. The danger here is that the drive of our sinful nature will have the greater influence. What is then an initial subtle self-determination in the guise of Christian liberty could rapidly descend the slippery slope to an entrenched manner of living that is indistinguishable from unbelievers in an ungodly world.
The sense of God’s specific will for us, in seeking out His purpose, in the decisions being made, would determine the direction and path we travel in this life. It will lead us in the process of being faithful in working out God’s calling. That sense of striving, contemplating, seeking out His will would be lacking, if the mindset is ‘do what your heart tells you to’. Would it not diminish the importance and gravity of making decisions that seek after obedience to God? What a benefit and privilege forgone! Let us seek after the joy of learning and being cared for by our Lord as we are being led, taught and provided for with answered prayer as we earnestly seek His will, being spiritually affirmed by the comforter in us with a peace beyond understanding.
Let it be settled, then, that the Lord does guide and He guides because there is a specific will for each one of us as we encounter life’s challenges and decisions. It is a reasonable question to ask of ourselves, ‘what is God’s will for me?’. What is God’s purpose in the direction that I will take?
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that”. James 4:13-15
It is good for us to be reminded that we should seek His guidance in everything that we do. We must be careful to subject our own desires to the overruling will of God and be ready to be led by His “still small voice”. May God’s will be done.
Blessings in our Saviour who guides us uniquely,