Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day (Psalm 25: 1-5).
There are some today who teach that it is futile to seek God’s plan for our lives because He does not have one. “All we can do (so this teaching says) is to make sure that our decisions are morally right, and in line with the general principles of the Bible, but in every case the choice is ours” (Steps for Guidance by Dr Peter Masters). Such people choose to exercise their right to make their own decisions without consulting the Lord.
As Christians, we are to look to the Lord in all the major decisions of life. Important choices regarding our career, life partner or a home must be brought constantly before the Lord. While we may do our own research, and seek the advice and opinions of more matured believers or family members, we must not leave the Lord out when making critical decisions. A failure to seek God’s counsel may result in sorrow and regret.
How do we determine God’s will when we stand at the crossroads of life? The following six steps are gleaned from Dr Peter Masters’ book, “Steps for Guidance”:
1. Prayer and Submission
The opening verses of Psalm 25 show David’s confidence and trust in the Lord (vv 1-3). In the next two verses, he expressed his heart’s desire for God’s guidance – that he might be led in the right paths.
Though Psalm 25 is a psalm of repentance, it is also a psalm about divine guidance. David began his psalm by submitting his life to God and praying earnestly for divine protection and leading.
In his book, Dr Masters suggested that “the first rule of guidance is to be learned from these words, and it is this – submit yourself entirely to God and pray fervently for guidance and protection. Do not rush along the highway of life making brisk and self-confident decisions” (Steps for Guidance).
This biblical view is opposed to the new view that God treats us as adults and we are to “use our God-given wisdom to take our own decisions. As long as you make sensible and ethical decisions God will bless you. The choice is in your hands. Be responsible; but be free!” (ibid). Sadly, this kind of new thinking is quite common even among believers who make major changes in their lives based on their personal preferences, convenience and the desires of their hearts. In doing so, they fail to seek the Lord’s leading in their decision-making.
In verses 4-5 of the psalm, David expressed his desire for God’s guidance in different ways. He asked to be shown “thy ways”, to be taught “thy paths” and to be led “in thy truth”. Coming before God, the psalmist submitted himself to understand God’s ways and to do His will.
In his prayer, the psalmist manifested a genuine desire to obey God and to follow His direction. Like David, let us pray fervently for the Lord to guide us. As we pray, we should be ready to submit to His will.
2. “Clearing the decks”
This second step of “clearing the decks” – to identify and deal with all wrong desires, attitudes and motives – is so crucial that to ignore it “is as disastrous as building a house without a foundation” (ibid).
In Psalm 25, David, conscious of his past failures, pleaded for mercy in verse 7: “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.” Acutely aware of the power and hatred of his adversaries, he cried to the Lord to “consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred” (v 19).
Like David, we too have many failings and frailties, and many spiritual enemies. Our own desires, selfish ambitions and motives may influence us in our choices and render us incapable of rightly seeking God’s will. Quite often, we have already made up our minds about a particular matter. We may ask, “In such a case, why pray?” Dr Masters gives a frank and clear answer: “Because we want to fool ourselves into believing that God agrees with us and is supporting us. We want our way and the blessing of the Lord as well.”
When seeking divine guidance, it is also important not to look for the easy way out. If this is our peculiar weakness, we need to take heed not to use it as an escape route from a difficult situation. Dr Masters aptly comments: “Do we see our particular weakness, and take account of it? Some see ‘the Lord’s will’ in an attractive escape route which promises to deliver them from their present burden of hardship, or persecution, or even frustration or boredom. Certain believers spend their lives on the run from one perceived hardship or another, and surprisingly each move is ‘of the Lord’.”
Brethren, it is our blessing and privilege to be guided by the Lord. Let us learn to seek His counsel in life’s major issues. Search our hearts and put away all self-seeking motives and delusions, wrong attitudes and foolish desires that can impede divine guidance. May we look to the Lord to lead us according to His blessed will. Amen. ( … to be continued)