In her book, A Slow and Certain Light, Elizabeth Elliot tells of two adventurers who stopped by to see her, all loaded with equipment for the rain forest east of the Andes. They sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the Indians. She writes, “Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me – confident and, we think, well-informed and well-equipped. But has it occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?”
She suggests that we often ask God for too little. “We know what we need – a yes or no answer, please, to a simple question. Or perhaps a road sign. Something quick and easy to point the way.” “What we really ought to have, is the Guide himself. Maps, road signs, a few useful phrases are good things, but infinitely better is someone who has been there before and knows the way.” (Sourced from sermoncentral.com)
The Bible tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all our heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6), but we fail too often to take the advice. Instead, we stubbornly depend on guidance from worldly sources, only to end up unsatisfied and misdirected.
We have a loving God who yearns for His people to come to Him for guidance, who hopes for His people to trust in Him above all things. But we are an obstinate people, determined to find our own way through the muck and mire of human existence. We are like sheep blindly following whatever grabs our attention and before we know it we become trapped in the snares of our own invention.
Our Father in heaven has promised us His guidance over and over again throughout Scripture. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8). “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ’This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).
Yet we know there is another voice always whispering its deceptive tones in our ears trying to lead us off the righteous path the Lord is guiding us upon. That voice is the devil’s, and his intentions for us are destructive. To Him we are nothing more than play pieces upon a game board, our souls are merely a collection of misguided trophies used to satisfy His evil ego.
But he is no match for those who trust in the Lord for their guidance. The Psalmist puts it beautifully saying of the Lord, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Through Word and Sacrament God guides us back to the narrow path to salvation and away from the wide path towards destruction.
But we must believe, and we must take the time to come to Him with our requests for His guidance. Our God will never force anyone to follow Him but neither will he turn a deaf ear to the appeals of His people. Matthew 7:7-11 says as much when it tells us to, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
The Lord of lords longs for your prayers for direction and He is eager to show you the ways in which you should go. Like the Psalmist, we are to reach out to the Almighty saying, “Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation, for you wait all the day long” (Psalm 25:4-5).
So, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6). Let the Holy Spirit guide you towards wisdom and depend upon His Word to lead you to where He has already prepared a place for you. Trust in the Lord to guide you. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, lead us to those places that will glorify you in the greatest way and teach us to live according to your purpose for us in Christ. Amen.