One of the most challenging aspects in growing a vital, intimate relationship with God is discerning His guidance. Other messages, streaming from social media, television, movies, and books, always attempt to pull us this way or that. Lack of sleep and unsettled emotions block clear thinking, too! The discernment of God’s guidance usually feels like a steep uphill climb.
Speaking of guidance, I’m referring to daily choices. God’s Word doesn't specify how to number our daily “to do” list. It doesn't tell me where to vacation, which movie to watch, how much money should I donate, or when to... On a weekly basis, there are dozens of decisions I’d like God’s guidance for. But, they don’t have biblical clear cut answers. God's guidance doesn't have to be a guessing game.
It’s not impossible to receive guidance for life’s nebulous or not so nebulous questions. It is possible to know what to do and where to go. I’m learning it takes time, a willing heart and silence!
Ultimately, the best guidance comes from our Good Shepherd. He promises to lead us to pleasant pastures and refreshing waters which are for our own good. (Psalm 23) “He instructs sinners in his ways,” (Psalm 25:8); “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (vs. 9); “The Lord confides in those who fear him” (vs. 14). “The Lord desires us to make the most of our every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:16). Do you believe Him? He tells us how.
1. Take time. The more hectic our lives, (involving change and change means decisions), the greater our need to make time to be quiet in God’s presence. It may mean cutting out an activity to arrange time for God. It’s a sacrifice, but it reaps great gain. God says, “You will find me waiting for you.”
2. Surrender…yield…give all! Getting God’s guidance is learning what God desires of us. It requires letting go of all reservations. How far are you willing to go? What will you or will not do? How much can God have of you? Will you surrender what you hold close? If you really want His answer, offer ALL of yourself to Him. “Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering,” (Romans 12:1 MSG).
3. Talk less, listen more. When God says, “Be still”, (Psalm 46:10), He’s nicely saying, “Shut up!” We must be quiet in order to know Him and hear Him. When I’m trying to dial down, rest in God’s presence, and simply listen, thoughts about daily duties, other people, etc. flood my mind. They won’t go away and they seem too important to shove aside. So I keep a paper and pen close by to jot down the information for my attention later!
Meditating on Scripture fosters a “still” mode. Consider these: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken" (Psalm 62:5-6). “…in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).
4. Keep good eye contact. When my children were small and I wanted to be sure they received my instructions. I’d call them close and say, “Look at my eyes.” With good eye contact we connected and I’d share. They didn’t always obey, but my point is this. Eye contact is intimate. Looking attentively at God’s Word and turning away from distractions is the best way to receive His instructions. His truths transform the way we think and help us stop copying the ways of the world. We perceive life through the lens of God’s wisdom, insight, and knowledge. We discern what God wants us to do. (Romans 12:2 NLT) “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God” (James 1:5). “I will instruct you and teach in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye” (Psalm 32:8).
5. Walk by faith. What if an idea settles in your mind and you’re not sure of its source--God, Satan or self? Let’s trust our Shepherd. You are the apple of His eye. (Psalm 17:8) Remember, the Lord has promised to give you wisdom, knowledge and insight. Because your honest desire is to yield to God—wanting what He wills you to have or not have what He does not will for you, “walk by faith.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) Uncertainties give us opportunities to “walk by faith.”
I may not be sure of God’s guidance 100% of the time. But I AM sure of this. Even when I fail to follow God perfectly; He still loves me perfectly. Assurance of God’s unfailing love helps draw me back to spending time with Him, and study His Word. Because He loves me, I desire to listen and follow Him.