Over the past few months, the Lord has led us to downsize and move to a new home, as well as change to a new church. If that were not traumatic enough, He has also directed me to finish the Master’s degree that I started almost twenty years ago. With fear and trembling, I sent my application yesterday.
We have been questioned about the leading of God. Some nod their heads with understanding. Others have said things like, “You are just doing what you wanted to do anyway.” Whether God’s leading is understood or not, the Bible is filled with verses of His promise to do so.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8)
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. (Psalm 25:8–9)
For me, the important thoughts in these verses are “the way you should go” and “the humble.” I need to be firmly fixed that whatever God tells me is right for me, the way that I should go, not the way that makes sense, or follows what I want, but recognizing that God knows what is best for me.
This requires humility. If I think that I know what I should do, I am relying on myself and not on God. He has something to say about that also.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Whether in stubborn rebellion or naïve self-trust, going my own way is the essence of sin. It may not seem like it, for sin is deceptive, but without Jesus Christ, I cannot do anything that pleases God. Further, this sinless Son of God said, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Jesus, who had a perfect self-will, trusted the Father with all His heart. What makes me think I should do anything less?
For all of these reasons, and in each situation of making decisions, we had to examine our own hearts, especially our own “I wants” to make sure that we were not merely doing what we wanted to do. That would be contrary to the leading of God, and not complying with Scripture’s definition of following His counsel.
I’m aware that any decision is going to have mixed motivations. I could think of many reasons for staying in our former home and many reasons for moving. Because of those conflicting rationalities, it is important to come to the same attitude as Jesus and be able to say, “It does not matter what I want, only that Your will be done” and really mean it. As a mission agency once told us, we need to “prepare to go, but be willing to stay.”
Lord, the decisions made have given us peace, but we could not be certain peace would come until after we determined to follow Your leading. I also know that the ramifications of any decision can be contrary to our expectations. I could do well with this degree program, or find out that my brain will not work well enough at my age to finish the courses. Yet I am certain this is the direction I’m supposed to take, no matter the outcome. For that, I am grateful and praise You for leading and guiding Your people.