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A story about guidance

True story:

I sat opposite my, then, girlfriend in the restaurant.  I wanted to make her more than my girlfriend.  So I sought God's guidance in the way that seemed most obvious to me.

I fired up a silent prayer in the restaurant.  "Father, if it's right that we marry, please put into her head the thought of our wedding day."

Instantly she smiles.

I ask, "Why are you smiling?"

She says, "Oh, nothing."

"Were you just thinking about our wedding day??"

"How did you know??!"

"Because I just prayed that if we should get married, you'd think about our wedding!!"

...Awed silence...

Now let me come clean.  This woman was not Emma, who is my wife.  Had I married the woman from the restaurant, lovely woman though she was and is, it would have been an unmitigated disaster.  Nonetheless - I had sought guidance from on high.  And it seemed pretty clear she was the one.

So what do we learn?

For one, we learn that much seeking of guidance is in fact seeking God's rubber stamp for our own desires.  I was not looking for guidance, I was looking for a "Yes."

When we seek after signs we prove very adept at creating them.  I don't know what exactly was going on in that restaurant, but I do know that Derren Brown can create far more impressive tricks.  In a restaurant, in a serious relationship, after serious discussion, it doesn't take a genius to predict thoughts of a future wedding.  And it doesn't take much to turn my wish into a prayer and then take it for a sign.  If you're looking for one, you'll take anything as a sign.

We're not promised guidance through signs, we are promised it through the word of God and the people of God.

I was reminded of all this by reading Proverbs this morning:

Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

Later on I read this:

Proverbs 20:5 The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

I don't know myself very well.  In fact I have deep desires hidden from my own sight.  Yet they drive me in all the wrong directions.  It's madness, but if these desires really get hold of me I want to avoid anyone with Wisdom.

I can maintain the facade of godliness, because - Hey, I'm still seeking God's guidance!

But I'm seeking it in signs and not where God has put His Wisdom.  He's put Wisdom into His book and into His people.  We must seek guidance there.

Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

Anyway, here's an old sermon on guidance...

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0 thoughts on “A story about guidance

  1. Royce Ogle

    We are also promised answers to prayer. And, I know they can sometimes be very specific.

    I can recall several times when I was a young Bible school student with a wife and little income, I went to the Lord admiting my emptyness and praying for guidence. I have again and again asked simply "Lord I don't want to miss your will. Please make it so clear I can't miss the way you want me to go." And, many, many times God has lovingly answered in such a way that I had assurance that my decision was His decision.

    Maybe God did those things because of my youth and immaturity both as a man and as a Christian but He did it none the less.

    I doubt that God will ever be offended if one of his children ernestly wants to know His will about a matter and asks the best he knows how at the moment for clear direction. It might be a sign, a circumstance suddenly changed, an open door that was until now closed, and of course the counsel of Christian friends.

    In my view we should be careful that we not limit the God who lives in us and Who is for us.

    Agape'
    Royce

  2. Heather

    I could give an example of how a series of "signs" was responsible for Craig and my marriage...but the comment would likely be longer than your post. Interestingly, we were still in our teens and neither of us was looking for a specific indicator of a future together.

    I have again and again asked simply “Lord I don’t want to miss your will. Please make it so clear I can’t miss the way you want me to go.” And, many, many times God has lovingly answered in such a way that I had assurance that my decision was His decision.

    This has often happened to me, too. It has been amazing to watch how the Lord works when I admit I don't know...
    As a wife, it is particularly notable that when I approach God empty and broken and ask Him to wisely direct my husband, He has. But then, my approach is usually not a matter of "please God let my will be done...give me a sign so I can be comfy with doing my own thing" so much as "I'm lost and don't trust my own thoughts.....HELP!"

  3. Josh B.

    I don't understand.

    What about all those Old Testament references to people looking to various signs to learn something about God's will? And throughout the entire gospel of John, Jesus's miracles are referred to as "signs," in the sense that they point toward something God wants us to know about his Son.

  4. Heather

    I think it is interesting that Jesus said of the hypocritical, unbelieving Pharisees and Saducees:

    A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall no sign be given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah You can check the context in Matthew 16.

    Jesus offered plenty of signs as proof that He is indeed God's only begotten Son--yet the hardened religious leaders continually insisted that He needed to do more. The more they saw, the more they hated Him.

    And Paul also said (speaking of the resurrection to which we look forward) that while we are in this world, we walk by faith and not by sight as we trust in the promise of His Word. My understanding of the "insignificance" of signs for believers today is that true obedience to God is to simply believe that He Has fully accomplished His will through Christ and will bring to pass in time all that He has said He would do.

    Demands for signs can indicate a lack (or non-existence) of faith in simple, basic instruction that we are given in Scripture and through seeking of godly counsel. I think Glen my have been pointing to a tendency we have to try to circumvent the obvious instructional channels while grasping at a way to justify selfish desires.
    We do have the Holy Spirit Who gives understanding and peace and James says that when we ask for wisdom (with the proper attitude) God is gracious to give...

    Not sure if that helps any.

  5. Glen

    Hi Royce,

    Welcome to the blog! Yes certainly the Lord answers prayer and He is very intimately involved in every detail of our lives.

    And I could tell you about many 'coincidences' opening doors on my marriage. But I can also tell you about 'signs' like the one above that, if followed, would lead to disaster.

    They are not reliable as guides. Of course, the Lord is free to use them in extraordinary ways and of course we may encounter many nice confirmations along the way. But my point is that He wants us to seek guidance in His word and in His people. That's the reliable place to look.

    Hi Josh,

    I don't think, for instance, that Gideon's fleece is a good model for us (he'd already been told the right path). I think Proverbs gives us a great study in how the LORD wants us to find the right path (more in my sermon above).

    And the signs of the NT are pointing not to *my* destiny but to Christ's glory. But if we keep our eyes on Him - we won't go far wrong (again - more in my sermon).

    Heather,

    You said:

    "Demands for signs can indicate a lack (or non-existence) of faith in simple, basic instruction that we are given in Scripture and through seeking of godly counsel. I think Glen my have been pointing to a tendency we have to try to circumvent the obvious instructional channels while grasping at a way to justify selfish desires."

    Yep - exactly.

  6. Bobby Grow

    Hey Glen,

    Good post. I would also say that the LORD does speak to us, He has been to me lately, alot; and that He does get very specific, when needed. We certainly can put our desires on God, but of course we should certainly remain sensitive to hearing His voice and desires for us. But as you note, I think most often the way we hear his voice, or have it confirmed, is through His Word (the scriptures) and other believers.

  7. Royce Ogle

    The fact remains though that Gideon’s fleece was honored.

    It is not the preferred method but I wouldn't rule it out.

    Good post!

    Royce

  8. Glen

    I worked for a large central London church at one time and we used to have almost a weekly occurence of some poor single girl crying to the church staff because yet another creepy single guy had come onto them with the line "God has told me we need to get married."

    Royce and Bobby - you are great and mature saints and I trust you to discern God's movements in your life. I just want to keep in mind Romans 12:2

    "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. *THEN* you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

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