How does God guide us? What is the difference between me thinking up what to do and God really guiding and directing my paths? How do I know the difference between my will and God’s will?
A friend asked a simple question today, ‘Do we want guidance or do we want the Guide?’ Guidance might be a simple list of directions for how to get somewhere, ‘Go left at the junction, then take the third on the right…’ Much better is if someone who knows the way jumps in the car with you. That is surely what God has promised to do for his people. ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ Joshua 1:5.
So how do I know when he is guiding me and when I am wrenching the steering wheel from his hands and trying to guide myself?
Another friend quoted Hudson Taylor. He said there are 3 ways you can do God’s work
1. Come up with the best idea you can and put it into practice
2. Come up with your own plan and pray that God will use that plan
3. Ask God for His plan and pray that that plan will be put into effect
Point 1 is where I don’t give a moment’s thought to what God wants and I simply put into practice my ideas, plans, dreams, ambitions.
The difference between point 2 and 3 however is subtle. God could of course just drop an idea into my mind but more often than not I have to work quite hard in thinking something through. Fine but am I stopping before I do that and asking God to guide and direct me, am I depending on him, looking to him, crying out to him?
Often we find ourselves praying and then thinking and repeating the process. Frequently we can be driven back to God in desperation and tears. ‘Lord I don’t know what to do. Please will you help me, show me, direct me?’ And then perhaps it comes. Maybe it seems obvious but you couldn’t see it before.
The difference is we’ve not just got guidance but we’ve got the Guide.