By Virginia Brandt Berg
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I was reading the autobiography of Jerome Hines, the great opera singer, and he was telling of how he learned about divine guidance, and he made these statements:
The experience of obedience to God revolutionized not only my career, but my entire life, and yet spiritual growth was so often blocked by my own interference, my ego. Time after time I would charge ahead on my own steam, only to fall on my face. On each occasion I would tell myself, once and for all, to get out of God’s way and let God run my life.
Now I realize after all these years in my career that guidance comes to different people in different ways. Some people obtain it just through quiet meditation and Bible reading; to others divine guidance arrives at odd moments in the form of quiet, mental nudgings from God and His Spirit.
There are times, to be sure, when I’ve badly wanted direction, but all I could hear were my own thoughts clamoring for control. Yet I know that real guidance doesn’t always come when I just keep asking over and over, “Now God, is this what I’m supposed to do?” No.
It comes through obedience and trust. Believing that God is hearing, believing that God cares, and knowing that if I trust Him and obey, that step by step He will guide me, and then there must be no doubt.1
He goes on and tells of the timing of some of his remarkable experiences and how it strengthened his conviction that God wants to give us divine guidance in our lives.
It’s so foolish that one who values his life at all should forget that he cannot ever succeed or really be what God meant him to be unless he constantly seeks God’s guidance. How foolish is the one who values this life so little that he has never sought God’s plan for his life, but just wanders aimlessly through the years, never knowing what God meant him to be or wanted him to do.
The story is told of a billy goat being shipped from one point to another, and it arrived at last at the baggage station. The station man, seeing the goat there, asked the baggage man what his destination was. The man replied, “He don’t know whar he’s going. He’s done chawed his tag!” Well, I want to say that—worse than that goat—some people don’t even know that they’ve ever had a tag.
But God has tagged every life! That is, He has planned a destination and a purpose for every single life, for your life. Among the mighty works of God, His creations, His greatest masterpiece is the immortal soul of man and his body that’s made to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.2 It would be amazing if God did not have a plan for that life. This means then that divine guidance is vitally important in your life.
For God has a definite plan for your life, for my life. It’s such a tragedy to miss God’s plan for your life. Now I’m speaking especially to those who have been born again, who have become new creatures in Christ Jesus. In Ephesians 2:10 we read this: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
According to this verse, we are to know God’s will for us and live it out in our daily lives, making sure that we find His will in every decision we make, in every crisis of life, great or small. You’ll go stumbling through life, coming to dead-end streets, frustrating detours, stone walls that block your way, unless you determine the will of God in every avenue of your life. As the following poem so beautifully presents:
What will it profit, when life here is o’er,
Though great worldly wisdom I gain,
If, seeking knowledge, I utterly fail
The wisdom of God to obtain?
What will it profit, when life is o’er,
Tho’ earth’s fleeting love has been mine,
If, seeking its gifts, I failed to secure
The riches of God’s love divine?
What will it profit, when life here is o’er
Though earth’s farthest corners I see,
If, going my way, and doing my will,
I miss what His love had planned for me?
—Grace E. Troy
Paul said, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”3
When you hear God’s still small voice pleading from within or when you feel the “nudge of the Holy Spirit,” as Jerome Hines calls it, the feeling to do this or that, this is, as the Scripture says, “God working in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” That’s a precious promise, but it’s also a serious warning! For we are to work out with fear and trembling, lest we miss God’s will for our lives.
Proverbs 20:24 says: “A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” It’s a blow to human pride to say that man is not capable of choosing his own way, that he has to have divine guidance, but it’s so true.
An experienced guide of many years in the jungles of Africa once said, “It’s hard to lead one who is willful. It’s very difficult to guide them. They don’t trust their guide. They’re always wanting to have their own way, and I’ve seen many such people in my days of guiding that ran into dangerous situations and serious accidents because they wouldn’t follow the guide.”
Is it strange that God’s people, the sheep of His pasture, need a shepherd to guide them? You know we shouldn’t dare to face a single day without the presence and guidance of the Lord. It’s so dangerous to seek guidance from men and not get the counsel of almighty God who knows all.
The first step in divine guidance is to yield your life utterly to God. Now that’s a full and complete surrender, because there can’t be any clashing of wills; that’s the supreme essential. Remember that verse: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, and be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may know what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”4
Do you want to know how to know God’s will? There it is: You present your body a living sacrifice.
“And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may know what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” That’s complete consecration, which brings about a divine harmony with God’s will. It’s an awful thing when there’s disharmony, your will bucking up against the will of God for your life!
I’d say next that you’ve got to exercise faith for guidance. If you do not believe God has a plan for your life, you’ll lay out your own plans and then you may miss God’s way. So many Christians who are not fully surrendered and who choose their own path come back to God’s way sometimes, after years of frustration and suffering. But it’s such a costly way to have to learn to wait for divine guidance.
Do you believe that God has a plan for your life? Are you determined to find and follow that plan? Then you’re going to have to pray constantly for guidance; not only surrendering your will, not only seeking Him, exercising faith, yielding your body and consecrating all, but praying for guidance. Ask for it, pray with expectancy, and truly expect God to reveal His will for your life.
James 1:6 says that we have to “ask in faith” to know God’s will and then have an expectant attitude that He’s going to guide us. God’s Word says, “If any man will do my will, he shall know it.”5 That is, if he is willing to do the will of God, then he will know it.
I was reading this from James McConkey today:
In all the ages there never has been and never will be a man or woman just like you. You are unique and have no double. No two leaves, no two jewels, no two stars, no two lives are alike. Every life is a fresh thought from God to the world. There’s no man in all the world who can do your work as well as you. There is a need for you. God has a plan for you. And if you don’t find and enter into God’s purpose for your life, there will be something missing from the glory that would otherwise have been there.
Every jewel gleams with its own radiance. Every flower distills its own fragrance. Every Christian has his own particular bit of Christ’s radiance and Christ’s fragrance. Has God given you a different personality? He has also created a particular circle of individuals who can be reached and touched by that personality only, and you can do it as no other one in all the world.6
Seek His guidance, find His plan for your life. Turn to Him right now and ask Him to lead you and guide you, and He will.
From a transcript of a Meditation Moments broadcast, adapted. Published on Anchor June 2021. Read by Carol Andrews.
1 From This Is My Story, This Is My Song (Fleming H. Revell, 1968).
2 1 Corinthians 3:16.
3 Philippians 2:12–13.
4 Romans 12:1–2.
5 John 7:17.
6 From “The God-Planned Life,” by James H. McConkey (1858–1937).