Following God's Lead - Part 1 of 5

I apologize in advance for a slightly longer-than-normal post, but I want to tackle a pretty big question that I think we can all relate to.

I’m currently preaching through the book of Acts, and while preparing to teach from chapter 16 recently the text really hit me. I was struck by how prominent the Holy Spirit’s leading is in Luke’s narrative (especially verses 6-10), and how consciously Paul & his companions followed that lead. It caused me to ask the obvious question: do I follow his lead that deliberately? Am I even aware of how he may be leading me?

In that message I shared four ideas from Acts 16 that may be of some use as we seek to know his will for our lives. I want to restate those ideas here and in coming posts, share some of my personal experience with them, and invite you to think with me because I’m no master of how to follow the Holy Spirit! These ideas certainly don’t cover everything that could be said about this topic, but I hope they help some.

The first thing that hit me is that God seems to lead most prominently when we’re at the center of what he’s doing. After all Paul & the gang got these strong directions from God when they were on the road pursuing his stated goal of evangelizing the world, not while they were sitting back at Antioch sipping lemonade and pursuing their own dreams. The idea is that if I want to see God show up in my life powerfully, I need to move my life to where he’s powerfully showing up. Put another way, the Christian life isn’t about getting God to bless what I’m doing, it’s about getting me to do what God is blessing.

I picture a man on the shore of a powerful river flowing westward. The man wants to go south, so he drops his canoe on the riverbank facing southward, climbs in… and of course goes nowhere. Then he gets frustrated with the river for not taking him where he wants to go. At several points my life has looked rather like that silly man in the canoe! I’m heading in my own direction and wondering why God’s leading isn’t more easily discerned. The point is, if the man wants to feel the power of the river taking him somewhere he’s got to get into the center of the current – and let it sweep him away to wherever it will.

The applications of this idea are probably numerous, but here’s what occurred to me personally: Modern life hands us Americans a script which involves getting as good a job as one can, enjoying as much of life during the “working years” (by the way, where did that phrase come from?) as possible, and then “retiring” so one can enjoy life full time. Or some such thing. After reading Acts 16 I was haunted by two questions, one easy and one difficult. The easy question is: ‘does this script reflect God’s script?’ The answer, when one understands his redemptive plan, is clearly No.

The more difficult question, however, is ‘how thoroughly have I shaken off that American script and embraced God’s redemptive agenda?’ Honestly, the answer for me is… somewhat. I find as Tommy and Elizabeth grow my desire to provide everything for them does as well. That’s not all bad of course, but it does subtly pull me in the direction of earning, saving, and spending a lot on myself and my family instead of investing my time, energy, and money into God’s redemptive agenda.

I realize that if I’m not careful, I’ll raise two kids who are happy and healthy, but who don’t have a blasted clue how to live for Jesus in a meaningful way because they’ve never seen it modeled or experienced it first-hand. And beyond just my kids, I might be totally oblivious to other ministry opportunities along the way.

I’ll be transparent here: I’m not entirely comfortable with this line of thinking. But I’m trying to resist the desire to run from the haunting sensation. I don’t yet know what changes God might bring about in my life as a result. But if those changes amount to pushing my canoe further out into the main stream of where God himself is working, then I want to welcome them.

Honest question: How easy or difficult do you find it to move your life to where God is working? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.


Ken said...

I've been pondering your post since I read it last night. This isn't exactly one of those "I'll just post a witty comment" posts, ya know?

I like to think that I am trying to move my life to where God is working. I try to be the best husband/co-worker/neighbor I can be. I try to be a good person and live good, Christian values. However, I find that outside distractions often get in the way. That person who snubbed me at work, the stupid fight I had with my wife or kvetching about the neighbor who truck is screaming over-compensation.

When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus said, Love the Lord thy God. Furthermore, he went on to say the second most important is to love thy neighbor as thyself. I try to follow these and figure between God and by making the best choices I can, I'll get where I need to go the right way.

Matt Guerino said...


Thanks for your thoughts. I feel I should confess that most of my posts are trying to be a bit more than light & witty! Well, except that rash of Peet's coffee posts recently...

Anyway, thanks much for your thoughts. I really find a benefit in thinking deeper questions through with others, and I hope other readers of this blog do too. I think you're right about the pervasive reality of distractions in life. Dealing with that has got to be somewhere close to the heart of making sure I'm in the mainstream of what God's after in this world.

Ken said...

I enjoy posts that are more deep, actually. I just shied away from them on my own blog since they received few, if any, comments.

Keep 'em coming!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin