Nothing quite gets a Christian's gender appropriate knickers in a twist like the issue of guidance. Partly, this is because we all love to cloak our decisions with spirituality. I well remember being romantically rejected with the line: I feel God is saying no. There is no worse line - for rejection is bad enough without it coming from the mouth of the Almighty! Ladies, please, for the sake of men everywhere, don't use such language (God only speaks through Scripture anyway so it's not even theologically correct!)
I can't claim to have my theology of guidance sorted out in my head. Give me another fifty years and I might have something close to one. But the issue has been on my mind a lot over the last year because of having to choose what to do after university and so I figured I'd share my thoughts.
There's a book written by Kevin DeYoung called Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. As the title gives away the book is a reaction against Christian mysticism. His basic point is that God made us intelligent human beings, capable of making decisions and that as long as we are immersed in God's word, seeking advice and praying faithfully about things then we are free to make the decisions that seem best. I read the book around three years and was quite struck by it. Now though, I feel it goes too far and throws the baby out with the bathwater. While Mr DeYoung rightly decrys the sort of Christian mysticism that puts great store in dreams and little in the wisdom found in the Bible he leaves little room for the guidance of God.
It’s a solid biblical principle to say that in the overwhelming majority of cases God gives a lot of warnings to people before he deals with them according to their sins. We see this on a global scale with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the numerous wars going on, the unrest in Arab countries, the economic crisis in the West and in other acts of God’s wrath against this sinful and fallen world. As Jesus says:
“Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Luke 13 v 2 – 5
The pain, suffering and death of this world we live in are warnings to all of us that God’s wrath is set against sin! We would do well to heed those warnings. But we see it as well on an individual level. God will often send us warnings about sin that we still allow in our lives. At least, that is how I have found it of late. Largely because I’ve ignored the quiet warnings and then God has shouted and the consequences have been extreme.