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Topic: Directions (02/02/04)
TITLE: Where He leads I will follow
By Stanley McMahon
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"Lord, if you make that fleece wet, and all the ground around it dry, then I'll definitely know what to do!" How many times have we used "Gideonic" guidance to help us understand God's direction? Perhaps it is the novelty of it all that attracts us to use this line of thought. In reality if our "fleece" doesn't turn out quite the way we want it to, we are capable enough of self-deception. Well, is that the way the Lord directs us?
More than anything else probably, other than temptation, the Christian is troubled about guidance. More often than not, it's the big things we want to know about. "Where should I work?," "Whom should I marry?" or "Is this what God wants me to do with my life?"
Tortured souls mull these things over endlessly, buy books, and go to conferences and long for some input that will send them in the right direction.
So what is at the bottom of all this? I would suggest a number of things, not least a lack of understanding about the character of God and how He speaks to us.
I spoke to someone recently who told me that the Lord had spoken through a sermon preached by the pastor of the church, and had clearly directed him to frequent that particular church.
The reality was that he had been seeking fellowship for a while and had finally found a place to worship where he felt at home. Would it have been unspiritual to say, "I was lonely and had lost my way. I feel accepted here."? Would the Lord have rapped him over the knuckles for being honest? But he felt he needed a "word from the Lord".
Not that the Lord doesn't speak from His Word and direct us accordingly. Our lives are full of experiences of how the double-edged sword of the Spirit cuts through our sin and pierces our hearts to correct or encourage us. But I get the feeling that we somehow think we need to justify our actions in spiritual terms for the Lord and also for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We feel we need to dress up our decisions in the spiritual "swaddling clothes" of our fleeces. It sounds better.
Such a view of guidance belies an insecurity in our relationship with God. The truth is He is not waiting to beat us with a big stick if we step out of line, or guess wrongly at what He is saying to us. He longs to bless us and provides the church to be blessing to us. He sees our frailty and puts His desires in our hearts.
I love the narrative from Paul in 2 Corinthians 3 when he went to Troas. The Lord had opened a door for him, but he had no peace of mind because he didn't find Titus, so he went on to Macedonia. Here was a man who kept in step with the Spirit but who also enjoyed his liberty in Christ.
If we look more closely at the Scriptures we will see that the Lord is good. He wants us to enjoy His presence and rejoice in the way He has led us. He knows us better than anyone, so don't be surprised if that girl or boy you are head-over-heels in love with, or that job you are really good at, isn't just the Lord saying, "Don't you know I love you dearly? Do all that is in your heart. I put it there. So just live for the praise of my glory. I will take care of the directions"