Conditions for Godʼs Guidance

Posted on September 23, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

There is never a day one does not need the assurance of Godʼs divine guidance. It may be in major life decisions or in subtle and trivial issues that fill oneʼs day, but any Christian ought to be aware of how vulnerable we are to failure and mistakes in judgment when left to our own wisdom.

In my younger days of ministry there were critical decisions to be made: where to go to school, what to major in, whether or not to respond to a church call to serve on staff. I felt the decision to go to the mission field had already been confirmed, but when and where were continuing dilemmas. Having children expanded the decisions to be made regarding education, family time, not to mention financial management and stewardship. I donʼt know if anyone else experiences the anxiety of second-guessing that I have over the years. Once a decision was made, I often wonder if it was the right one or if I should rescind certain actions and reverse course.

Proverbs 3:5-6 has always been my life verse, I think because it gives the assurance of Godʼs guidance. Having learned it at an early age in the King James Version, it is hard for me to alter the wording of subsequent translations–”Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

That assurance that God will direct our path is something that we all constantly need. I do like the ESV and other versions which translate that, “He will make straight your paths.” How much do we need that in our tendency to meander in indecisiveness, tossed from one affection and inclination to another, diverted from a disciplined focus on Godʼs will and purpose?

I have always recognized there were four components to this familiar passage, but it is important to note that the first three are conditions that result in our experiencing Godʼs guidance. The first contingency is to trust in the Lord, in other words to walk by faith; but we are to do it with our whole heart. That is not simply faith in Jesus Christ as Savior but believing He is with us, that He has a plan and purpose and is seeking to guide our thoughts, attitudes, actions and behavior according to that purpose. We must trust Him without doubt or wavering in our confidence.

The second contingency is to not lean to your own understanding. I must admit that has always been the hardest part for me. Being in a leadership role, I tend to be a type-A, decisive decision-maker. I quickly discern the options, come to a conclusion and move on. Involved in a day-by-day flow of administrative decisions, I pray for Godʼs guidance for the day each morning but quickly resort to decisions based on my own wisdom and insight.

How frustrating this must be to God who yearns to guide and direct our path. Isaiah reminded Israel that this was one of their prominent sins–”I spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people who walk in the wrong path, following their own thoughts” (Isaiah 65:2). We get into big trouble when we follow our own thoughts and understanding; in fact, it is rebellious to do so.

Finally, we are to acknowledge God in all our ways, that is, in every aspect of our life. It is not just in making major decisions but in the daily lifestyle of work, family, recreation, relationships and ministry we are to be aware of Godʼs presence. He is available to guide us according to His will. He will make our way straight, focused on a course of life that will glorify Him.

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