This God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end. (Psalm 48:14)
Direction is Needed
Years ago an ocean liner sank along the coast of Ireland. The ship’s captain was an excellent seaman, so everyone wondered what caused the accident. Divers recovered the ship’s compass. In the compass box, they found the small tip of a metal knife. It must have broken off when a sailor was cleaning the compass. That tiny piece of metal hindered the compass from working properly and it gave a bad reading. So the ship took the wrong course and crashed into the rocky coast.
Scripture calls Jesus’ believers to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. We are to follow Christ with perseverance, fixing our eyes on Him, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. That’s how we keep straight on course. Martin Luther said: I don’t always know the way God will lead me in advance, but I do know my Guide and I entrust myself to Him. We must do the same.
This post builds upon Jesus Our Guide.
Here are some more Scriptures and thoughts on Christ leading us.
Another Lesson from Exodus
God guided the Israelites with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The Lord was visibly showing them that He was personally present with them during their time in the desert, traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land. When God’s pillar moved forward, the Hebrews packed up camp and followed. When the pillar stopped, the Israelites camped underneath it. God often spoke to the Israelites from this pillar.1
The Lord does not guide us that way any longer. He directs us by His Holy Spirit working with His Holy Scriptures. When we belong to Christ and are following Him, we never need to feel alone or in the dark. We matter to God. And He still provides everything we need for life and godliness, including His guidance. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” The Lord is still in control. He still orders our steps. He still directs our starts and stops. So we pray: Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your good Spirit lead me on level ground.2
Delays and Detours Are Part of God’s Plan
Last time I mentioned Exodus 13:17 where the Lord said He would not take the Hebrews by the most direct route. He took them by a safer, longer, and more time-consuming route, wanting to teach them how to trust and obey Him. The journey took 40 years before they entered the Promised Land. God wanted to mature, sanctify, and purify them along the way. They would have missed many demonstrations of the Lord’s grace and goodness if they had taken the shortcut. The Lord knows best!
Elisabeth Elliot said: When we are puzzled by delays and detours, let us think about our great purpose in life: to glorify God. The lessons He wants to teach us “in the wilderness” are priceless means of providing us with a song we could not otherwise have sung: “In your kind, constant, steadfast, and unfailing love you have led us!”3 Troubles help us appreciate the Lord’s goodness when He answers our prayers in unexpected ways.
Step by Step
The Lord guides us gradually, seldom revealing His full detailed plan for us in advance. Here are a few Proverbs: Only simpletons believe everything they’re told (by other people)! The prudent carefully consider their steps….We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps….Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails….Our steps are ordered and ordained by the Lord. How then can we fully understand our way?4
Planning is good and commanded by God. But we should never think this makes us captains over our lives. The Lord alone directs our steps. So we should make plans wisely and humbly before God, surrendering to whatever He brings to pass. We may plan things in life down to the last details, but we cannot achieve our plan unless it coincides with the Lord’s plan for us. G. Campbell Morgan said: No person can step outside God’s government. No one can devise a way that enables us to escape from God.
Elisabeth Elliot says: Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying God in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.5
Praise the Lord! He is able to do infinitely, immeasurably, abundantly more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. The God who split the Red Sea down the middle and leveled the wall around Jericho and brought Christ back from the dead delights to do the impossible right up to the present day.6
Prayer: Our Father, instruct us and teach us in the way we should go. Counsel us with your loving eye on us. Help us to trust you with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. Help us to submit to you in all our ways and make our paths straight.7
Notes (various translations): 1 Exodus 13:21-22; Neh 9:12,19-21. 2 Psalm 143:10. 3 Elisabeth Elliot, A Lamp For My Feet. See also Ex 15:2,11,13. 4 Proverbs 14:15, 16:9, 19:21, 20:24. 5 Elisabeth Elliot, Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity. 6 Eph 3:20 and comments by Chuck Swindoll. 7 Psalm 32:8; Prov 3:5-6.