The other night at our Tuesday evening Bible study my friend Bob mentioned something that I can’t stop thinking about. We were discussing an issue in the Gospel of John when Bob mentioned that all too often in our lives we try to do the leading and ask God to follow us instead of letting God lead and we follow.
It might seem like a simple concept and something that every Christian should understand, but the reality is that we do try to lead and then expect God to come along after us like an oversized bodyguard to keep us out of trouble. In the last couple of days I’ve been confronted with a number of circumstances where my first inclination was to make a snap decision on how to handle the situation.
The reality is that my first responses are often not the best. I usually dive into the problem without knowing all the facts, making judgmental comments and relying on what I think should be the solution. As you can imagine I have ended up more than once in the middle of a catastrophe of my own making. Bob was absolutely right, we need to slow down, take a breath and talk to God about the problem before we act.
My brother was a hospital administrator for many years and he told me once that sometimes when situations in the boardroom looked hopeless he would go out in the hall and pray about what was going on. More than once while he was praying a solution would pop into his head.
How often our prayers are only a list of wants and needs, and though there is nothing wrong with presenting our needs to God, we should put God’s leading first in our prayers. Often we try to tell God how we will reach out to someone or help another person, but we need to learn to ask God what His will is regarding the person and then be willing to obey when God shows us the way.
King Saul’s army was petrified of a giant by the name of Goliath and because of that fear none of the soldiers would venture out to answer his taunts. A young shepherd boy by the name of David was bringing food from home for his brothers who served in the army when he heard the challenge. He took it up, put a stone in his sling, let it fly, hit the giant in the forehead and killed him. David didn’t see the giant the same way that the army had. He simply saw a big man who was no match for David’s God. Instead of being awed, cowered and overwhelmed by the size of the problem, he saw Goliath as a challenge, and with God leading he knew he would be victorious over the bully.
Maybe it’s time for us to ask God how we should go about living our lives, and what are His priorities for us instead of us making the plans and expecting God to pick up the pieces if things don’t go well. When we start our day with prayer it would be good to ask God to direct us through the day, lead us where He would have us go, speak the words that He would have us speak and love with the compassion that He would have flow through us.
For many of us this is a scary thought because we don’t really want God to lead us every day. We are frightened He will ask of us something we don’t want to do, or go someplace we don’t want to go, or give something we don’t want to let go of. In many parts of the world tonight our fellow Christians are following Jesus to their own cross as the ultimate price of putting His priorities first in their lives.
As a Christian I know I live in comfort in my community, safe and sound in my snug little house, secure from the evils that befall so many people in this fallen world. I also know it is easy to make decisions about my spirituality to accommodate that comfort. It is easier for me to write a blog about trusting God than to say, “here I am God, whatever you would do with my life I am willing to follow.” But as Christians we have all been called to be disciples, and that means being truly committed followers of Jesus regardless of the cost. Maybe it is time for all of us to become the great family of God that takes seriously the great commission to carry the gospel into all the world, all our nation, all our community and into all our homes. God has a great plan for our life and it’s time we asked God to lead us step by step, to promise and to follow regardless of where the path takes us.
I know some of you are saying everything you’ve said Ladd is true, but how do we make putting God first in our life a reality? That will be the topic of the next blog as we look at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 3.