Spiritual Growth, Devotional
by Ed Vasicek
Have you ever tried to surprise someone and then discovered that the surprise
was received as anything but positive? Perhaps you purchased an ice cream cone
for a friend, and then found out your chum detests ice cream. You picked
up a new book for a relative to find out he just finished reading his own copy.
When I counsel couples in preparation for marriage, I always advise them to never, ever make a major purchase without consulting their spouse first. I wonder how many husbands, for example, surprise their wives with a new car, only to create strife and financial tension later. Not good.
The same concept is true with our relationship to the Lord: He wants to be consultedfirst! Isaiah 30:1 reads, "'Woe to the obstinate children,' declares the L , 'to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit....'" In the book of Joshua, the children of Israel made an alliance with the Gibeonitesan alliance they should not have made. The Gibeonites pretended to have come from a far away country, and the Israelites, using mere reason, signed a treaty with them. According to Joshua 9:14, "The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the L ." They had been duped because they followed mere logic and never asked God.
I have known many Christians, claiming to be followers of Christ, soldiers in his army, who neglect to check in with headquarters for orders. Like mercenaries, they simply order their lives based on their own desires. The thought of waiting upon God for direction never enters their minds. If you belong to Christ, you are not your own. You no longer have a right to make your own decisions or order your own life. If he is your Master, then you are his servant.
Although this may sound bold, I have seen marriages crumble, children turn out poorly, and the spiritual depth of formerly strong believers take a nose dive because, I believe, they did not bother to consult God. They moved, married, switched churches/careers, or made major decisions on their own without consulting headquarters. They went solo, AWOL, did not acquire orders.
Our walks with God, our marriages, and our families are very fragile. In some instances, they survive only if we submit to the Lord's will. If we follow the Lord fully, he places us in environments that accomplish his purposes for us. If we choose to enter an environment at our own bidding, we penetrate beyond God's protective hedge and enter the danger zone. A tank does well on land but will sink in the ocean. A submarine does great in the ocean but will wallow on land. We may not know whether we are tanks or submarines, but the Commander-in-Chief knows.
If we move to a different town, church, neighborhood, switch careers, or marry without first consulting God, we are placing ourselves in spiritual danger. The best place to be, whether in Kokomo or the jungles of Africa, is right where God wants us to be. But when we don't consult him, when we make our own decisions, we are denying his lordship over us. He is no longer the Commander, we set our own destiny. We do so at our own hazard.
In many instances, the Lord wants us to make our own choices. Just as headquarters leaves many of the mundane decisions to the trooper, I do not believe we need to consult God about every detail of life. I don't think God cares which pair of socks I put on today. It's not wrong to ask him, just unnecessary, in my view. But when it comes to our relationships and major or even medium decisions, how dare we not consult our Commander-in-Chief!
Don't just take a new job. Pray about it. Get counsel from the godly. Consider how it will affect your spiritual life and relationships. Lay it out before God. Ask him to stop you if you are erring. Don't just marry someone you find attractive: use the Scriptural criteria (marrying a believer, etc.), consult godly and wise friends, lay it before the Lord. Don't just buy a new car or new house on a whim. Consult God. Don't you (or your kids) get involved in ministries that are not doctrinally and ethically solid. Because a friend invites him or her to camp doesn't mean you should let your child go. Whether the issue is how big a house you can afford, how much to give to missions, whether to join another club, which study Bible to purchase, school choice, or who to vote for, take these things to God. If he doesn't lead you clearly, if no Bible verses bear on the situation directly, if the godly are undecided themselves, then you may have to use wisdom and ask God to stop you if you are erring. You should not feel pressure to label everything you do "God's will" or "Spirit-led." Like Paul, you can say, "...we thought it best..." (I Thessalonians 3:1). But you should always be able to at least say, "We consulted God first. He did not lead us clearly, but we asked him." If God chooses not to speak, that is his choice. But you must wait on him and at least give him that opportunity.
Incidentally, if you learn to consult God habitually, you might be surprised how many times he does make his direction clear. It would be great if we got to the point where we were so used to consulting God that we did it automatically. That's being part of the Lord's army, being a disciple of Christ. As the Jews in the wilderness following the shekinah cloud of God's presence to the place God wanted them to camp, so we too need to forsake choosing our own direction. God knows best, so let's ask him.
Reprinted from the September 2000 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA