Hoist the Sails
I heard a true story once about a pastor who officiated a funeral. Afterwards, he got in his car to lead the processional to the cemetery. Well, he started driving, turned on the radio, and got lost in thought. He was driving down the street when he went by a Kmart and remembered he needed a few things at the store. So he pulled into the parking lot and circled a few times to find a parking space, then he glanced in his rearview mirror and saw a whole string of cars behind him with their lights on. Now, they had no idea why they were there. And, truth be told, that pastor didn't really have a good idea what he was doing there either.
Do you ever wonder what direction you're going in? Do you ever question the guidance of God? How do you know God's will? How can you tell the difference between God's voice, your own guilt, and your mother's voice playing in your mind?
Let me just say that when it comes to the leading of God, you can relax a bit. God is big enough, powerful enough, and creative enough to make sure that you get from point A to point B. It's not like God is up in heaven white-knuckling it, going, "They missed the cue! They missed the sign!" I believe it's as simple as Psalm 37:5: "Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." Couple that with another verse you probably know well, Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
I think the will of God and the guidance of God is a combination of God's aptitude and man's attitude. God is able and powerful. He can do it, and He will do it. That's His aptitude. The French theologian François Fénelon described our attitude nicely: "The wind of God is always blowing...but you must hoist your sail." So, how do we hoist our sails?
Here are four quick principles that will help you concerning guidance from God. Number one: operate naturally according to biblical principles. You don't have to constantly worry, "Should I go right or should I go left?" Just live. Trust. Read your Bible. Pray. Counsel with other believers and move.
Number two: evaluate any resistance. When it seems you've come to a stop, evaluate it: "Is this the Holy Spirit stopping me, or the enemy?" Now, you may need some counsel with determining that. But ask, and keep asking. It's better to ask what the right way is ten times than to go the wrong way once.
Number three: elevate your disappointments. Learn to see them a little differently. Disappointment can be God's appointment. A difficulty could be a cleverly disguised opportunity. If we could see every negative experience as part of the providential will of God for our lives, boy, it'd change us forever. Somebody once said, "God speaks to us through the regularity with which He disappoints our plans." God's "no" is just as important as God's "go."
Number four: appreciate God's variety. My friends, God has innumerable creative ways to direct your life. Please do not place your almighty God in a little box. God likes to break out of boxes. Hebrews 1:1 says, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets." God is a God of variety.
And finally, enjoy the ride. You're on an adventure. Your destination is secure if you have entrusted your life to following Christ: you're going to end up in heaven. So look out the window a little bit. I know life has bumps and the road has curves and there are potholes, but I'll tell you what, the scenery is great, and God promises to direct us all the way.