Need Directions?


RECENTLY TOOK my wife, Barbie, to a movie I had already seen. At every suspenseful scene she would whisper, “What’s going to happen next?”

I kept answering, “Watch the movie.”

We often ask God in prayer, “What’s going to happen next?”

God says, “Watch ‘the movie’—enjoy the adventure of your life.”

One of the most important questions you can ask is, What is God’s will for my life? To experience God’s will, you don’t need to know everything that’s ahead of you. But you can experience God’s will as He directs your path. That’s what Proverbs 3:5-6 is about.

Trust God to lead you. He will open doors for you and He will close them. I’ve learned to thank the Lord for closed doors as well as open ones.

Listen for God’s Direction

What an amazing promise from God: “He will make your paths straight” (v. 6 NIV). One of the greatest promises God gives us is divine direction.

Moses sang to the Lord, “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling” (Ex. 15:13 NIV). David said, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Ps. 37:23).

Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Paul wrote, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

God directs us internally by speaking to our heart and externally through circumstances and counsel. Direction is not manipulation. God doesn’t move us around like pawns on a chessboard. Life is not predetermined. You have the power of choice. God will direct, but you must decide to obey. Destiny comes from God’s direction but depends on your decisions.

A woman was stepping outside a store when she heard a voice say, “Stop! Don’t take another step.” She froze, and seconds later a brick fell off the building just in front of her.

The woman started to step off the curb to the parking lot when again the same voice said, “Stop! Don’t take another step.” Suddenly a delivery truck zoomed by, inches away from her.

Trembling, the woman asked the voice, “Who are you?” The voice replied, “I’m your guardian angel. I imagine you have some questions for me.”

“I sure do,” the woman said. “Where were you on my wedding day?”

Step Out in Faith

God’s ways are greater and different than ours: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8-9 NIV).

Since God sometimes guides our steps in ways we aren’t even aware, we need to trust Him to guide us and not lean on the limitation of our understanding. The psalmist describes this wonderful truth: “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen” (Ps. 77:19 NIV). This does not discount our intellect or common sense, but since our understanding is limited, we shouldn’t be limited by our understanding.

Take the step in front of you. God called Abraham to leave his home and go to the unfamiliar land of Canaan. He “obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Heb. 11:8 NIV).

God only told him to leave. Just one word—“leave” (Gen. 12:1 NLT). When Abraham took that step, the Lord directed him to the Land of Promise. What an adventure he had with God. When he left, God showed him the next step. But he did not know the next step until he took the first step by faith. God doesn’t always show us what lies around the next corner. He expects us to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). God’s will unfolds one step at a time in a great adventure.

You don’t need to know your future. You only need to take the step in front you. Over time you will get where you need to be.

Fear will paralyze you with analysis of the future, while faith will empower you to take action in the present.

Give God Everything

God’s direction is for all of our life—not just for a few decisions we need to make. We cannot ask God for direction for a particular decision and not surrender the totality of our life to Him. We must acknowledge the Lord “in all our ways,” not just in the ones that are convenient. This means to worship the Lord every day, not just on Sundays. “Love the Lord your God will all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5 NKJV).

When missionary David Livingstone was working in Africa, a group of friends wrote him: “We would like to send other men to you. Have you found a good road into your area yet?”

According to a member of his family, Livingstone sent this message in reply: “If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”

On his 59th birthday, Livingstone wrote this prayer in his journal: “My Jesus my King, my life, my all, I once again dedicate my whole self to You.”

June, 2016

David C. Cooper is lead pastor of the Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta, Georgia. His most recent book is I’m Spiritual, Not Religious (2015, Pathway Press).