People always want to know how they can tell what God wants them to do, the churchy question is phrased like this: “What is God’s will for my life?” You may be interested in reading more on the topic, I have a page covering several issues surrounding God’s will.
I discovered that there are only eight places in the Bible where the word guidance is used (in the NASB):
- But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance (2 Kings 16:15)
- Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance (1 Chronicles 10:13)
- Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance (Proverbs 1:5)
- For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers (Proverbs 11:14)
- Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance (Proverbs 20:18)
- Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers (Proverbs 24:6)
- Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.” (Habakkuk 2:19)
- And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28)
We may seek guidance, but God provides something better, he provides himself.
The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (Isaiah 58:11)
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 that person?
- Should I 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? Consider these principles:
- God’s guidance concerns itself more with our steps than our overall journey.
- God’s guidance is more preoccupied with the present than with the future.
- God’s guidance has less to do with geography and more to do with morality.
- God’s guidance is more interested in our character than our comfort.
- God’s guidance is not insider information.
- God’s guidance is that we pursue the Guide more than guidance.
In seeking God, his plan will be revealed to us. His way will lead back through his Word. If the step is more critical than the journey, and the present is of greater consequence than the future, and the Guide more essential than the guidance, what is needed? We need to know the right step to take and to know what we must do in the present. That’s why we need to know the Guide.
God does not guide us magically; he guides us relationally. Therefore, the Bible must be studied so we may become acquainted with the ways and thoughts of God. God’s aim is that we become his companions who walk with him. He already knows us, so now he wants us to understand and know him. The more we understand him, the more real our relationship will be with him and the more likely we are to keep in step with him in the direction he is taking us.