“Brother, please pray for me for direction.” How many times have I heard this prayer request? We all want to know how to receive guidance from God. Lord direct my paths!
How does God direct us? I confess I have used this verse in the past to claim and even teach that God directs us by means of our circumstances. ‘In all your circumstances acknowledge Him’? Yes, God is sovereign in our circumstances, but are we truly capable of understanding just how this is accomplished? Are we able to properly interpret the meaning or significance of this or that happening?
Proverbs 20:24 “A man’s steps are of the LORD; how then can a man understand his own way?”
Over the years I have discovered that my attempts to interpret circumstances have often led to more trouble. Too many times I looked at “coincidences” as confirmation.
For example, two friends of mine once recommended me to do a back yard renovation for a friend of theirs. Neither of my friends realized that the other had made such a recommendation. My friends, my new customer and I were all Christians. I prayed with the customer and felt peace about pursuing the job. Two Christians who did not know each other randomly recommending me for a job when the county I live is full of contractors more qualified than I do so such a job? All of us Christians who loved the Lord? It all just seemed right.
The job went sour right from the beginning. Through an amazing series of mishaps and misunderstandings I ended up owing my customer $11,000.00! As of the writing of this blog I am half way through paying off this debt. I learned many things because of this incident for which I praise God continually. One of the greatest things I learned was this:
Coincidental confirmations and peaceful feelings are inferior and potentially disastrous indicators of God’s will!
Was God directing? Yes. Did I understand what He was doing or where He was taking me? Not at all.
Do you trust ABC, NBC or CNN to report the news in an unbiased manner? No? Trust your feelings even less! Are you allowing circumstances to dictate your next decision? There is a better way.
Feelings are a blessing, but only in the context of God’s will. Circumstances are the tools by which God grows our faith, but are merely pieces in a million piece puzzle that we will never figure out until He puts it all together.
Now let’s look at Proverbs 3:5,6 in context, by beginning with verse 1.
“My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.
Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Proverbs all begin with an admonition to keep the words, instructions, laws, commands, and doctrine of God.
To acknowledge God in all our ways we are not acknowledging circumstances as our guides but the truth of God’s word in our circumstances.
What could I have acknowledged in my failed job? God’s truth! Here are just two, though there are many others. Psalm 138:8 “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me” and Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
For every feeling and for every circumstance there is a promise from God that covers it. As Peter declared in 2 Peter 3,4, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…”
When we know God, He, through His power and promises, gives us everything we need that has to do with our daily lives or our service to Him.
We need to settle this in our hearts once and for all. I am yelling at myself right now. “Stop being led about and deceived by your feelings! Your feelings are tied to your flesh and your flesh wants to lead you into lustful cravings.”
Feelings are only a blessing in the context of God’s revealed will.
And how about this (I shout to myself): “Do not be lead by coincidences and circumstances, but while you are in them, acknowledge the truths of God’s word that apply and reject any other conclusion.”
Circumstances are God’s tools for growing our faith. They are opportunities to learn to trust God’s promises.