Click for audio: Misguided Guidance
It is not unusual to hear someone complain that an answer they felt God had given them turned out wrong. In one case, after well-laid plans collapsed, I heard a woman ask, “What was God thinking?” I was told of another woman who was given a ticket for making an illegal turn into a church parking lot. She was indignant for, after all, she was going to church! How could God allow her to get a ticket for going to church? Another man was praying for his elderly mother to recover from a fall. When she passed, he was crushed that God would let him down.
One of the reasons we struggle with such issues can be traced to our habit of laying a very human template over God, a habit which I believe the writer of Proverbs had in mind when he wrote this line:
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12).
Of course none of the above examples were cases that ended in death, but they certainly ended in disappointment in God’s behavior. We’ve all experienced this. Why the flat tire on the morning of that long-awaited vacation? Why the rain on that important family picnic? Why did the person of less experience get the job I prayed for instead of me?
While most of us carry strong remnants of God as the old man in the sky that sometimes gives us what we want and other times withholds it, I believe Jesus was attempting to get his followers to think of God in a different way:
“ … for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
The sun does not withhold its light from those we consider evil, and rainfall is not determined by human righteousness or a lack thereof. God is life, and this life is pushing forth from center to circumference of every man, woman and child … every living thing. This pushing forth is detected by each of us as the desire to experience greater freedom. So we latch on to certain circumstances as the means by which God delivers this gift of freedom. Spiritual freedom, however, is not found in any circumstance. We all know that today’s apparent answer to prayer may very well turn out to be tomorrow’s cause for prayer.
When we affirm spiritual guidance and we have a specific answer in mind, it is always wise to affirm, This or something better. This leaves the door open for the expression of genuine freedom through our circumstances. God does not waver in the expression department. When one thing does not work out, kick the dust from your shoes and move on. Your desire for greater freedom is not misguided. This or something better; let this sunbeam of Truth forever shine in your mind.