“Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.” (Psalm 43:3-4, HCSB)
How often do I pray this? How often do I ask for God’s light and His truth to guide me in the decisions I make day in and day out? I’ve found that when I’m faced with a large, life-changing decision (like whether to move my family to a new community and take on a new role as a lead pastor) I tend to ask for wisdom more often. But in those in-between-years, when life seems manageable and there are no world-altering decisions staring me in the face, my tendency is to run with my own ideas, thoughts, and plans without asking for light and truth from God first.
And, even when I do ask for wisdom from God, do I seek it? Do I ask God to just download light and truth into my brain like an app update, or do I ask God for guidance as I seek His light and His truth in His Word? Sometimes we ask God to speak or give us direction and wonder why He doesn’t answer when in reality, He put that wisdom just in front of us if we’ll look for it. Have your kids ever asked you for something, and you put it just out of their reach, so they’ll have to work to get it? Why do you do you that? Because when they work to get what you have given, it’s more meaningful; and sometimes it sticks more than if you just hand it to them.
God has given us tools to seek His wisdom. He has given us His Word. He has given us the ability to reason and think rationally. He allows us to have experiences that shape us and should teach us more about life. And, most importantly, He has given us His Holy Spirit who will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). But that truth doesn’t just come as an update or a new operating system. It’s not downloaded and installed in our brains while we sleep. When we pray for light and wisdom, we need to look for God’s answer using the tools, gifts, and opportunities He’s blessed us with. And as we seek Him, He will guide us into all truth.
My prayer for us this week as that God will send His light and His truth to lead us each day, and that we will have the discernment to see and hear His voice.
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai… (Jonah 1:1).
This phrase, “the word of the Lord came to…” is repeated quite often throughout the Old Testament. As a child, I remember praying and asking God for His Word to come to me as it did to Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so many other prophets in Scripture. I wasn’t asking God if I could be a famous prophet, just asking Him to speak to me in a real way. And, He did. Now let me quickly caveat that by saying when God speaks personally to you or me, it doesn’t carry the same weight of authority as when He spoke to Jonah. Jonah’s message was recorded in Scripture and is universally authoritative. When God speaks personally to you or me, it’s not a message to be added to the Bible, and it’s not authoritative for all people at all times. It is authoritative for you or me.
Having gotten that out of the way, I’m often surprised by the number of believers who’ve never heard God speak personally to them. No, I don’t mean in an audible voice. I’ve met a lot of Christians who’ve never had a personal interaction with God. They can’t point to a time when they personally felt God’s presence or that gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit, or when they had two-way communication with God.
I think the reason for this is we often don’t recognize God’s voice when He speaks. He speaks, but we don’t hear it as God talking to us. We believe in God, but we don’t have a conversational relationship with Him. Learning to recognize God’s voice is similar to learning to know anyone’s voice. Remember those days before caller id? I could tell who was on the other end of the phone just by the sound of their voice. Why? Because I spent time in conversation with them. It’s the same with God.