Derek’s Message: How Do You Seek God’s Guidance?

When I was asked to write a few devotional paragraphs for the FPC newsletter, the topic that I felt most strongly in my heart was guidance. Guidance is probably on my mind because I have been praying that God would guide me concerning the possibility of accepting a call to your congregation. But most importantly, what exactly is God guiding us or calling us to do in the rest of our lives?

Guidance is a very Biblical theme. It involves God’s love for us, God’s desire for us, prayer, listening, our own free will, and maybe most essential, God’s providence (which I have heard best described as God providing for us).

Abraham certainly relied on God’s guidance, in more ways than one. Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus praying for guidance in Gethsemane. The entire book of Numbers reminds us that God is our guide (admittedly, it’s not the most compelling read). In the scriptures God and Jesus are frequently referred to as shepherds for humanity. A shepherd, if nothing else, most assuredly provides guidance and safety for the flock. In Psalm 32 we are reminded that God will instruct us and teach us the way we should go, that God will counsel us with God’s eye upon us. In the Old Testament there are nine separate Hebrew terms for guidance, and in the New Testament scriptures there are three Greek terms.

Guidance is seemingly everywhere in the Bible, but there still remains a problem. Guidance from God can be a difficult thing to feel and to interpret. It can be difficult to understand. If you are like me you have never heard God’s voice spoken out loud to you. I do not have clear dreams of knowing what God is guiding me to do. But perhaps you have felt God’s guidance in some other way. Perhaps you have had that stirring deep in your heart, and known that God was somehow speaking to you. Perhaps you have gained wisdom from a friend, and known that God was leading you or guiding you through that person.

Guidance sometimes seems hard to come by in our world. How do we seek out God’s guidance in our lives today? I spend a significant amount of time praying for guidance, and subsequently giving thanks for guidance. When we pray, do we spend as much time listening as we do appealing? May we be reminded that if we don’t always know what God may be guiding us to do, whatever we do should be done in the interest of loving the people and the world around us.

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Breakfast Encounter

    Last Friday morning, I stopped by my GP’s office to let them draw some blood for a test and to get my flu vaccine for the year. Because of the blood test, I had to ‘fast,’ arriving for the blood draw without having any food that morning. When the phlebotomist had drawn the blood and given me the shot, I went to a nearby diner to get some breakfast. Little did I know I was about to witness something extraordinary.

    While I was eating my pancake, egg, and piece of sausage and reading a book about Oscar Romero, a young man went up to the counter to pay. I didn’t notice any of this, of course (occupied as I was with not only Oscar Romero’s life and ministry to the poor of El Salvador, but also all that butter and syrup…) until the young man started yelling at the woman behind the counter.

    “Swipe it again!” is what drew my attention.

    She did, and the card must have been denied a second time. She ran it again, and the look on her face told me the same thing happened. Denied.

    The young man was getting more agitated and saying things to her under his breath. I was paying more attention now, and she asked if he had another card she could try.

    “No! I don’t have another bleeping card!” he yelled at her. Except he didn’t say bleeping.

    Now I’m not a stranger to harsh words. I’ve said them myself. Usually when I’m trying to get a rusted bolt off an old machine and it finally comes loose, taking some of my knuckle skin with it. And I think I quietly swore under my breath in January of 1988 when the Washington football team beat my beloved Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, 42-10. There have been other times too. But never, ever at a person.

    Upon being sworn at, the young woman stared at the man like she didn’t know what to do (how could she?). Tears were about to appear. And the air in the room went real still. Like in the movies. I’m sure the background music was still playing, but it seemed deathly quiet at that moment.

    I was about to get up and walk over to the counter—not exactly sure what I was going to do once I got there—when another man who had been eating nearby wandered up real slow, eyes staring at the young man. He was a tall guy, with white hair under his old IFA ball cap, probably in his sixties. He asked the young woman, “What seems to be the problem here?”

    And that’s when the young man made what I thought was a fatal mistake: he answered when he hadn’t been spoken to. “It’s nothin’. My card won’t work,” he spat back.

    I thought a fight was about to break out, but the older man, his eyes searing into the young disgruntled one’s face, reached for his wallet and said to the cashier, “Aubrey, I’d like to pay for this young man’s meal, if that’s okay with him.” And after getting out some cash, he put his hand on the young man’s shoulder, not one of those friendly pats on the shoulder, but one of those firm grips that, well, made me think he was making sure the lesson was going to stick.

    I’ve had those kinds of hands on my shoulders a few times over the years. Perhaps from a coach, maybe from my dad once or twice; they happen when a boy or young man really needs to start paying attention.

    And after staring at him for what seemed like an eternity, the old guy said, “Be kind.” And then walked away.

    The young man left the restaurant and climbed into an oversize truck that was parked right out front, cranked up the volume on his radio, and left some rubber on the road as he departed.

    I went into the church office sometime later to finish my sermon, but I kept thinking about angry people and hurt people and kind people and people who teach lessons to those who could use them. I also thought about people who have a head full of kind words who refuse to tolerate ugliness.

    I hope I can be someone like that.

    I have a feeling Aubrey earned a whole lot of tips that morning. She deserved them.

    Be kind.

    That’s all for now.

    —Pastor Derek

  • Pages