Have you ever found yourself not knowing which direction to go?
What to do with your life or your time? Maybe you wonder, as The Clash asked, “Should I stay or should I go?” Maybe you don’t know what your gifts are, where you should serve, how can you best use your life to glorify God. Maybe you’re facing a family situation and you just don’t know how to resolve it. Maybe you don’t know what to major in in college or where you should live. We can worry that we might miss God’s will, or make a decision that will mess up our lives.
A year ago, I retired from paid pastoral ministry. I did so, having what I believed to be clear direction to serve our family. And for most of the year, I did what I felt God called me to do. Then a number of things changed in ways I could not have foreseen – good changes, but changes the Lord is using to cause me to seek his will, as he has done many times in my life.
One of the ways God has blessed me is he has given me great confidence in his promises to lead and guide me.
These promises keep me from fretting and fear. I don’t know what the Lord has for me, but I know this without a shadow of doubt – I know he will lead me. Here are some of my favorite promises of God’s guidance:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. PS 32:8
What a promise! God himself promises to instruct and teach his children. The God who has infinite wisdom, the God who knows all things from beginning to end, promises to be our personal counselor – to counsel us with his eye upon us. This is a promise – “I WILL instruct and teach you…I WILL counsel you.” And God will not take his eye off us for one second. He never forgets to lead and guide us.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. PR 3.5-6
When facing decisions we have a choice: do we lean on our own understanding or trust the Lord? Do we try to figure things out on our own or seek him? Here’s the key: when facing any decision “acknowedge him” – look to him. Pray to him. Ask the Lord to guide you. Ask the Lord to show you his will. When you do this, “he will make straight your paths.”
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. JA 1.5-6
So many times in life I don’t know what the wisest thing to do would be. But I know this without a shadow of doubt – God promises that if I ask him for wisdom he will give it to me – freely and abundantly, because he is a generous God. He “gives generously to all without reproach.” He is generous with his wisdom and guidance and direction. He won’t reproach us for asking him. But we must ask in faith without doubting. I can ask God for wisdom and direction because I have complete faith in his infinite wisdom and generosity. The timing is up to God. I will ask, then in faith trust that he will give me wisdom and guidance at the perfect time.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. PS 119:105
If I were in a pitch-black cave and couldn’t see the way to go, the thing I’d want most would be a flashlight to light my path. God has given us something far better for our lives – his word. If we spend time in God’s word he promises to lead us and give us wisdom and speak to us through it. When we regularly take in God’s word, the Holy Spirit will bring it to our minds when we need it. When we are tempted to sin, he will remind us to flee temptation. When we’re tempted to give up, he will remind us to hope in him.
Most mornings I spend a few minutes working on memorizing Scriptures. Over the years I put many Scriptures to music, because I find music helps me memorize them much more easily. You can listen to them for free on Spotify, iTunes – search for Hide the Word, Mark Altrogge, or Mark & Stephen Altrogge. Or visit ForeverGratefulMusic.com. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a complimentary CD.
“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! MT 7:7-11
This is a promise: “Ask and it WILL be given to you.” Jesus didn’t say, “Ask, and it might be given to you.” “Seek and you WILL find.” “Knock, and it WILL be opened to you.” Again, the timing is up to God. And to solidify the promise further, Jesus said “EVERYONE who asks receives,” not “Some who ask…”
And Jesus roots this promise in the truth that God is the perfect, most loving, most generous FATHER. He says that earthly fathers who love their children wouldn’t give them a stone if they asked for bread. What kind of dad would do that? And our heavenly Father is infinitely more loving than any of us are.
Jesus underscores this by saying that if earthly fathers, all who are born in sin, and even fathers who don’t believe in God, generally give good gifts to their children, HOW MUCH MORE will our heavenly Father, who is infinitely kind, generous and loving, the creator of every good gift, how much more will he give good gifts to those who ask him.
If one of my children asked me for guidance and wisdom, I would give them the best advice I possibly could. I want my children to be blessed and happy. I want them to make the best decisions. How much more, if we ask our generous heavenly Father to guide us will he give us wisdom and guidance. He wants us to have the most joyful, satisfying lives in him.
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. PS 37:23-24
This verse makes life so simple: If we delight in the Lord and his way, he will establish our steps. He will lead us and guide us. And we don’t have to worry about crashing and burning, for when we delight in Jesus, we “shall not be cast headlong,” for the Lord is holding our hand. And he won’t lose his grip on us.
When I was a young Christian, I had no idea what God wanted me to do with my life. But I had learned this from God’s word: serve others. So I just started trying to serve wherever there was an opportunity. And God led me. If you don’t know where to go or what to do, just try to serve wherever there’s an opportunity. God will establish your steps. He will make your gifts clear. He will lead you. Remember, God wants you to fulfill his plan for you infinitely more than you do. He’ll make sure you do.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. PS 25:9
Here is another promise that God will personally lead and teach those who are humble. When we are humble we don’t think we know it all. We don’t think we have all the answers. We know we’re needy. We know we can’t live this life on our own. We know that we need God’s leading and guidance. And the humble ask for help. The humble pray and seek the Lord. And he answers their prayers.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake. PS 23:1-3
When we have the Good Shepherd leading us why would we worry about the future? We are his sheep – his own possessions, purchased by his blood. If he did this for us, will he not supply our every need? Will he allow us to have any necessary “wants” that go unfulfilled? Will he not supply our needs and feed us and lead us into peace?
He has given us the desire to bring glory to his name. Will he fail to lead us in the right paths to do that?
And a final promise from Scripture:
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory. PS 73:23-24
When we believe in Jesus, he not only saves us, but he takes up residence within us by his Holy Spirit. He is continually with us. He never lets us go; he holds our right hand. He promises to guide us throughout our lives, then receive us to heavenly glory.
What a wonderful God we serve to give us all these promises to guide us! What promises of God to lead and guide have encouraged and helped you?