Looking for divine guidance? This is a good place to start —
The eternal truth is that God created me to be distinctly not Himself, but to realize Him in perfect love.
Once God has seen to making us a Christian, when we begin to understand the graciousness of life’s uncertainty, even after we’ve wrestled the possibility of a daily faithful walk with Christ, we may still entertain questions of purpose, direction, and the will of God upon our lives. Oswald Chambers, in the Discipline of Divine Guidance both sets forth a plan for disciplining our sensitivities to the movement of God’s will among us and the direction of God’s way for us and shows how God’s divine guidance disciplines us, as His children, into a way that is right.
At the outset, we are to recognize that God designed us to be other than Himself. He is the Creator — we the created. Our course in life ought always be subject to the ruling personality of God. Chambers walks us through five stages in divine guidance — by God’s sayings, by God’s symbols, by God’s servants, by God’s sympathy, and ultimately by God Himself.
I have been party to many conversations in which there is grappling with “the will of God”. What does it mean? What does it mean for me personally? What does it mean to step outside His will? To live in it? In some way, we have been conditioned to desire knowledge of the course God has in mind for our lives. It ought not be first on our minds to know such things. Rather, it ought to be first on our minds to orient ourselves toward the things of His Kingdom. Thus, we begin in this discipline by setting our bearings aright. God has “vast possibilities” for your life. Let us pray that the shape of things might ever be knit “by the ruling personality of God”.
With this post, I’ve opted to highlight longer excerpts. I keep my comments few.
When all religions and philosophies and philologies have tried to define God, one and all sink inane and pass, while the Bible statements stand like eternal monuments, shrouded in ineffable glory: ‘GOD IS LIGHT’; ‘GOD IS LOVE’; ‘GOD IS HOLY’. Every attempted definition of God other than these sublime inspirations negates God, and we find ourselves possessed of our own ideas with never a glimpse of the living God. When the flatteries, the eulogies, the enthusiasms and the extravagances regarding Jesus Christ have become enshrined sentiments in poetry and music and eloquence, they pass, like fleeting things of mist, coloured but for a moment by reflected splendours from the Son of God, and Our Lord’s own words come with the sublime staying of the simple gentleness of God: ‘I AM THE WAY’; ‘I AM THE TRUTH’; ‘I AM THE LIFE’. When art has fixed her ideals, and contemplation has cloistered her choicest souls, and devotion has traced her tremulous records, quivering with the unbearable pathos of martyrdom, we realize that all these miss the portrayal of the saint; and again the severe adequacy of Scripture, undeflected by earth’s heart-breaks, or griefs, or sorrows, remains the true portraiture of the saint: SAVED, AND SANCTIFIED, AND SENT.
By God’s Sayings
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)
It is with the indwelling Word of God that we first begin to discipline ourselves in Divine Guidance and that God first begins to discipline us with His divine guidance. Our Creator — He who spoke the heavens into being — speaks His word into our hearts. It is not that we are to work toward applying scripture to our lives, but that we are to nurture a divine relationship with Jesus. John says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) It is in Jesus and in the sayings of Holy Scripture, that we begin to know God’s guiding hand. Let us only open the pages of the Bible and we shall find His Spirit sending us forth.
By God’s Symbols
God often manifests spiritual truths by means of images. In such things we might glimpse His guiding hand. I’ve quoted this elsewhere and Chambers references it.
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,—
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude!
In so many specific ways throughout history, God shows of His glory anew. Oh, that we might have eyes to see. When He speaks might we have ears to listen and hearts to obey. Discernment is wrought in obedience.
By His Servants
As we consider Divine Guidance by His Servants, Oswald makes a distinction between those who are servants of God and those who are instruments of God.
An instrument is one who shows God’s sovereignty. A servant is one who, recognizing God’s sovereign will, leaps to do that will of his own free choice.
It is here, I think, that we find one of the most beautiful passages of this booklet.
But Guidance by His Servants gives a yet more intimate nearness to God Himself. It is during this discipline that we learn that no ideal is of any practical avail unless it be incarnated. If the mystic spell of Nature in her rolling air, her eternal uplands and abiding plains, her sunrise dawnings and setting glories, her perennial springs and summer nights languishing to autumn, the strenuous grip of her icy colds—if these awaken a sense of the sublime and the unreached, it ends but in a spontaneous ache when the deep within me calls to the deep outside! If the imprisoned soul of sounds makes the human spirit weep tears from too deep a well to be reached by individual suffering—if music turns the human heart into a vast capacity for something as yet undreamt of till all its being aches to the verge of infinity; if the minor reaches of our music have awaked harmonies in spheres we know not, till with dumb yearnings we turn our sightless orbs, ‘crying like children in the night, with no language but a cry’; if painters’ pictures stop the ache which Nature started, and fill for one amazing moment the yearning abysses discovered by the more mysterious thing than joy in music’s moments—it is but for a moment, and all seems but to have increased our capacity for a crueller sensitiveness, a more useless agony of suffering. But when God’s servants guide us to His heart, then the first glorious outlines of the meaning of it all pass before us.
The lure the servants of God are made but attracts men to a wilderness wherein God woos men to Himself. #MissionText
— Ua Vandercar (@UaMV) September 4, 2015
By His Sympathy
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:14)
The heart of God goes out for us. Guided by His sympathy, may our hearts go out for one another. Here, we step into a deeper realm of the guidance offered by God — that of a compassionate heart. Jesus modeled this very thing. He made a way of love in suffering.
It is in the mystic tenderness of the guidance by His Sympathy that God gives a love like His own. Oh, how can language put it—when the soul, the individual soul, knows God has marked all sorrows and has kept all tears till not one drop is lost, knows that ‘He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust’; when the first great surprise of the light of His sympathy bursts on our tear-dimmed soul and turns it into radiant rainbows of promise; when no Sayings of His resound on our ears with thrilling clarion call; when no visible Symbol disciplines our faltering steps; when no Servant of God is near to help us discern His will; when the cloud gathers round us, and we fear as we enter the cloud, and lo! a mystic touch is on our spirits, a coolness and balm, ‘as one whom his mother comforteth’ so the Lord comforts us. Oh, the tenderest touch of a mother’s love is nothing compared to our blessed Father’s sympathy! It is there, couched in His arms, that we are guided into that secret of secrets, that it is not men’s sins we have to deal with, but their suffering. It is ensphered in the nights when He gives us the treasures of darkness, that discipline us to be staying power in the alarm moments of other lives. What an atmosphere there breathes about the life God is guiding by His Sympathy!
We began with God and so we end — with God. The goal of God’s divine guidance is always God Himself. Our short-lived meanderings on this earth pale in comparison to the eternal purposes of God. The end will always be Him.
|Reflect On||Psalm 23:1-3
|Praise God||for His sovereignty.|
|Offer Thanks||for here and for now.|
|Confess||any tendency to care for the direction of your own life at the expense of God’s divine guidance.|
|Ask God||to keep you humble and obedient.|
|Comment:||Can we discipline ourselves into divine guidance?
How might divine guidance discipline us for a walk worthy of the calling?
Other posts in this #MissionText series:
#MissionText • The Graciousness of Uncertainty • The Making of a Christian • Now Is It Possible— • The Fighting Chance • The Message of Invincible Consolation • The Discipline of Loneliness • #MissionText: Considering Copyright • Thy Great Redemption • Talks on the Soul of a Christian • The Highest Good • Our Brilliant Heritage