Though the Bible never uses the word guidance, it does speak of a Guide. We may seek guidance, but God provides something better—himself.
God’s guidance rests on two facts: One, the reality of God’s plan for us. God has formed us for an “eternal purpose” (Eph. 3:11) (literally, a “plan of the ages” or “a plan for the fullness of time”) “according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:11).
The second fact is our ability to communicate with God. Since we are communicative animals, so our Maker is a communicative God. He made his will known to and through Old Testament prophets. He guided Jesus and Paul. Acts records several instances of detail guidance.
And why wouldn’t God want to communicate his plan to us? We are his children. If human parents have a responsibility to give their children guidance in matters where ignorance and incapacity would spell danger, we should not doubt that in the family of God the same applies. He has given us his Word, the Bible, which in my opinion, contains 95% of his will for our lives. He has left us the indwelling presence of his Holy Spirit to prompt and direct our lives. He seeks his glory in our lives, and he is glorified in us when we obey his will.
Yet many of us struggle to understand and discern God’s guidance for our lives. We ask questions like: Should I marry or not? Should I marry this person or not? Should we have another child? Should I join this church or that one? Which profession should I follow? What job should I take? Is my present line of work the one to stay in? Herein lies the major distortion of knowing and doing God’s will. Does God lead and direct in these areas? Yes. Does he come out and overtly tell us what to do? Rarely.
So how does God guide us? What does God’s guidance look like? Let me give you a few clarifying statements.
- God’s guidance concerns itself more with our steps than our overall journey. Meaning, if we are taking the right steps the journey will take care of itself.
- God’s guidance is more preoccupied with the present than with the future. God dwells in eternity; he is not bound by time. If we become preoccupied with future journey, we may miss the present step.
- God’s guidance has less to do with geography and more to do with morality. His supreme plan for you and me is to be like his son (Rom. 8:29). He can accomplish that plan whether you are living in Montreal or Miami, working for ATT or BASF. In other words, it is better we make a mistake about geography than about the morality.
- God’s guidance is more interested in our character than our comfort. God’s goal always has been to perfect us spiritually not to pamper us physically. Americans read the Bible with distorted lens. We read over the suffering, persecution, toil, and pain that most believers in the Bible endured. Too often we equate God’s will with success and comfort, and think we are outside God’s will when we faced with failure and pain.
- God’s guidance is not insider information. Often we want to know beforehand which step will lead to money, happiness, and success. Let me give you a test. Do you really want God’s guidance? Then, how often do you seek God’s guidance when you are not facing trouble or a difficult decision?
- God’s guidance is that we purse the Guide more than guidance. In seeking God, his plan will be revealed.
If the step is more critical than the journey and the present of great consequence than the future and the Guide more essential than the guidance, what is needed? We need to know the right step to take, what we must do in the present, and the Guide. God does not guide us magically; he guides us relationally. The Bible, therefore, must be studied so we may become acquainted with the ways and thoughts of God. God’s aim is that we become his companions that walk with him. He already knows us. Now he wants us to understand and know him. The more we understand him, the more real the relationship, and the more likely we are to keep in step with him, in the direction he is taking us.