GOD'S GUIDING HAND
How God's guidance can positively influence our lives,
and how we can also deliberately engage with
him during the process.
Importantly, please read the small article, “Sound Faith” before going on, if you have not already. It offers a framework for: building that level of sound faith, proving God’s
existence for yourself as a result of applying that faith to your life,
and receiving the potential benefits of his power there as a result!
this article is one of the longest on this website. But! The fact is
that God really can have a significant and positive effect on our lives
through his guidance. And just getting in touch with this one area of God’s
caring nature can provide reliable evidence of his presence in our
day-to-day lives. Of course there are more dramatic ways to recognise
his presence, say within the Church’s Charismatic movement, but none-the-less recognising and accepting God’s guidance really can be very beneficial for us as individuals.
As far as this article is concerned, God knows
each of us intimately, and has a plan for us as a result. I am sure that God
tries to guide all
humans, unbelievers and believers
alike, down their right path of life – knowing what is best for
each of us, and
others who will be affected by our actions. From the Christian (pre-Jesus) Old Testament:
I will instruct you and teach you in the
way you should go;
counsel you and watch over you.
2. WHERE AND HOW GOD CAN GUIDE US
God can and will apply guidance towards all
important elements of our lives: spiritual path, family life, personal
relationships, obedience to the rules he has given us all, our education, our career and daily work,
helping others, any church ministry we might be involved with, and even issues like acquiring essential assets etc. Of
course, as unbelievers, we are unlikely to make the connection; recognise it at work in our lives.
actually provides guidance through a number of methods. As explained
later, these are all recognisable and can also prove to be very
helpful during our journey
through life. From my own research and evaluated experiences, based on
Bible scripture of course, some of his methods are quite definite and
noticeable. Others are more subtle and flexible.
If we look back in time we
all really should be able to
recognise, in retrospect, that God was
present there in our lives even though at the time we may not have
realised it, and even though we may not have held any religious faith.
Now, it is likely that older people, because they have had more
life experiences, should retrospectively see more examples of God’s
methods of guidance within their lives. But
even younger people should still be able to
locate some examples there.
Remember again, as I have indicated, it
does nor matter whether you are an atheist, God will still
try to guide you because of his love for you. And when you accept that he
may have guided you in the past, you can then look to his valuable
guidance to assist you in your day-to-day life and beyond. In fact, we committed
Christians should confidently ‘ask’ for his guidance when faced with any complex
and/ or important decision. The final heading in this article relates
to how we can actually seek and then trust God’s guidance.
3. OPENING AND CLOSING DOORS
does know the abilities we each
possess and what we really need in life, which includes that personal
relationship he wants with each of us. In other words he knows our
personalities, our natural gifts and where we should be headed. Essentially, as I have already stated, God
has a plan in mind for each and every one of us. (He also has a plan
for humankind in its entirety as well, but
although that subject is fascinating in its own right it is
the scope of this article.)
3.1 When, how and why God opens and closes doors
does know what will work best for each of us in life, and plans accordingly. Remember he has a view of our
lives on Earth, which is from outside the constraints of our space/ time
continuum (that he also sustains). He can see the end results of our choices, even as we make them!
Some areas of God’s
for each of us, appear to be so important that they are indeed non
negotiable as far as he is concerned. Whether we like to believe it or
not, God has sovereign
power over all his creation. He is the ultimate Boss after all.
Although he may use this unlimited power sparingly
in our lives he can – through seemingly normal (but often extremely
‘unlikely’ to us) events – adjust our
direction in life if he chooses to do so. For example our plans to significantly
deviate from God’s view of the best way forward in life can simply be blocked by him through his arranging
If some direction in life is vitally important to us, even
though at the time we
may be ignorant of it, God can prevent
us from heading away from it! Of course, on the other hand, he can also open the way
to a life direction in a fashion that cannot be closed. Christians refer
to this particular guiding power of God in life as “opening and closing doors”. A simple example from the Christian Old Testament (pre Jesus bits):
In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.
These words are from the Christian New
Testament (the Jesus bits):
These are the words of him who is holy
the key of David.
opens no one can shut,
he shuts no one can open.
3.2 Examples of closing and opening doors
good example of God’s “door shutting” in the Bible is described in the
Book of Acts within the New Testament. Personally, I just love the
bland, ‘matter of fact’ way the events are described there (I have added the italics), “Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” Additional details of God’s
actions, to ensure that Paul and his companions did go exactly where he wanted
them to go, can be read in Acts 16:6-15. Even so, the verses do not state how God ‘closed the door’ on the so-called province of Asia. Another destination actually became known to them through a dream experienced by
Paul. It subsequently became obvious that God indeed did have a clear purpose
within the events. I also suggest you read on from Acts 16:16 to follow
events as they subsequently unfolded for Paul and his companions.
Examples of ‘closed doors’
in my own life, as I have identified them in retrospect, related to personal relationships
when I was a young single man. Another example related to a sporting
obsession that ate up most of my available free time, and some that was not
available I might add, during my late twenties.
As I see it now, the ‘wrong wife’
and that obsessive sporting interest certainly were both capable
of preventing my Christian journey of faith from ever beginning. Although
an atheist at those times, please understand that I was at least
recognising the sudden and most unlikely preventative circumstances together with their outcomes. Yes,
I could identify the incredible
timing and most foreign nature of differing events; the end of any further
opportunity in all cases.
I can now understand that my faith journey would become
increasingly vital as time past, where God’s
plan for me was not going to
be thwarted by my ill informed choices. There is a fair chance that I
would never have come to faith if he had not
changed my life’s direction in those ways. Nor would I have undertaken my audit of Christian faith and belief, that underpins this website’s articles.
3.3 Coming to recognise it in your life
I must state firstly that, of course, God will not necessarily choose to ‘arrange
circumstances’ so as to influence your
love life. But, I do believe if you too look back over your
past life there is a good chance you will recognise similar instances of extremely unlikely preventative events
there. Events that have changed your life’s direction.
For example look for obvious
turning points in your life, or where you became locked into a
certain critical direction in life (education,
career, job choice, and even maybe relationships etc). These turning points would have been effected by serious ‘pear shaped’ events at the time. And often these events occur with monotonous regularity until there is no other option left but to go ‘that way’. And probably now, at a later time in life, you can count
your blessings that it all happened in the way that it did.
I am fairly confident that when you get in touch with
them; the way they just happen
times in life, then they really do stand out.
course, it is unlikely that any of these examples, you might
in your life, will in isolation prove that God exists to you, but
recognising them will start to build that body of evidence you need for
‘believing in God’. So, read on please.
Clearly not all areas of God’s
plans for our lives
are so ‘set
in concrete’, as in the case of his opening and closing doors. Indeed, most are not. Simply, we are normally left to just get
on with our lives to the best of our ability. But even so, God does know the ideal way
for us to be most contented and purposeful in life for example. So, he just shepherds
us with hints one way or another as he sees fit, but leaves us
with our free will to
make final decisions. He is simply providing directions through the events unfolding in our lives,
quietly suggesting we follow his
His hints within day to day life are most
definitely recognisable, particularly when we ‘twig’ to his presence
there. And when acted upon appropriately, these hints can make life a
lot more ‘stress free’ as a
For this God is our God for ever and
be our guide even to the end.
4.1 How to recognise his leadings in our lives
As Christians, we should know to look for obvious
warnings in life from God. He invariably piles up these ‘warning signs’
or omens in
front of bad choices in life. What I actually mean by warnings are
odd little things that crop up unannounced far more than we would
expect, creating difficulty, thus preventing us from easily moving
forward in a direction that we are
planning to commit ourselves to. The test comes when we really
want to commit to it (i.e. it may even have become an obsession) and then
we start getting these ‘vibes’ that we shouldn’t
go that way!
course, God does not just provide negative
leadings, he also just as effectively provides positive
well. If one direction planned in life – study, career, dating,
important projects, choosing a church to attend, buying essential assets etc. – is becoming difficult
to pursue and its alternative appears easier, then God may be
indicating that the alternative is the better choice. That alternative may not be as desirable to us, mind
you. In the analogy, God is squeezing the door on
the wrong direction in life and widely opening another one that is more
suited. The easy route is often the right one, in other words.
days of trialling its use, it is wise to really apply adequate thought to what
be God’s leadings. But
once we get a better understanding of his
method or ‘code’
for leading us – that he
establishes with each of us as individuals – then its reality becomes
much more concrete and extremely useful. It is a significant benefit for each of us to have a ‘guide’ on hand,
always knows what will work or fail in our lives; what might harm us or
those close to us in some way (physically, spiritually, emotionally, developmentally or
The significance of these
‘leadings’ throughout life are again well
above what could be accepted as mere chance. It just happens far too often
and when you get in touch with it, then, it really does prove
4.2 Lessons learnt when ignoring his leadings
Like me, if you think back in time, you really should
overriding some of those more significant ‘leadings’ on occasions and
making bad choices anyway. That
is, going against strong ‘gut feelings’
that are often brought on by unexpected obstacles,
or possibly a series of obstacles.
can remember examples, you will probably also recall the consequences.
may not be good memories. I know I ‘blew it’
with a couple of major
family asset purchases over the decades for example, despite leadings
to act differently. On those occasions, this led to a level of
financial difficulty which negatively impacted quality of life for my family.
It took a while, but I eventually
learnt to take stock of such leadings. Yes, sadly from my point of
view, some of the best proof of leadings actually comes from ignoring
You may wonder why God allows us to even make poor decisions, i.e. why doesn’t he just ‘close the door’
on them all? Well, one of my Christian clergy friends suggested to me
that our poor decisions actually help us to grow spiritually as
Christians – the resulting ramifications of our mistakes help us to
grow in wisdom. And that is why God often lets us override his
guidance. And yes, I consider that my friend is correct! (The who’s, how’s and why’s of this website are presented on the home page.)
5. DETERRING 'BAD LIFE CHOICES'
To my mind, God’s methods for trying to deter us from ‘bad life choices’
can offer even stronger evidence of his existence; his
presence there in our lives. That is they can be more obvious than say everyday leadings. For example, his
disapproval at our seriously inappropriate decision-making and wrongdoing – that can negatively affect ourselves, our relationship with God, or harm others – will
become increasingly obvious as he tries to deter us.
The article “Christian rules, laws and commandments”
relates to these issues, amongst others. In most of these negative situations
we simply act poorly because of our selfishness or desire for self
Warnings from God about these bad choices of ours, whilst
normally starting out at a subtle level, may eventually
obvious. I admit that on occasions, his ‘warning shots’ at me have really ‘rocked my socks’. That is he hit me where it hurt in life, and I sure knew why in retrospect. I mean these were serious warnings of ‘DO NOT go down that path!’
too, I must add, these warnings from him in this area of life can even
be embarrassing (as he possibly tries to shame us
out of them).
At this point of the article though, is it all starting to look a bit hard for you to believe? I certainly know
it would have for me, when I was starting out on my road to faith. But it
really can become clear and real in no time at all, once your mind
opens to the possibility of God’s
reality within your life. Omens ... warning signs ... call them what
you like! I have already explained their basis.
I emphasise again that warnings about
these particular types of circumstances, relating to bad life choices (i.e. heading down the ‘wrong road’ in life),
are easier to recognise. And all the more so, again, if and when you are
about to knowingly disobey his
initial guidance about negative behaviour as he sees it. Obviously he has to make them obvious, if they are going to deter you!
5.1 Recognising God's warnings and their repercussions
Look, firstly, I
am not brave enough to detail all my bad life choices or wrongdoing to you. However I can give you a ‘flavour’ of the Lord’s
actions, towards me, in relation to a couple of incidences of the
same type of wrongdoing. I had evaluated and re-evaluated the effect of God’s
past leadings in my life. I knew exactly how they worked to my benefit
when I acted appropriately. And my golly he used that previous
experience of mine, i.e. knowledge of how it all worked, to make it
very clear that he did not want me to continue with bad life choices.
In relation to its
first case, his action (an occurrence that indeed was very unlikely to have
ever occurred) was fairly harsh. It came after my wrongful
behaviour, and I immediately understood it meant not to ‘try it on’
unlikely occurrence I am referring to struck within a very short time, like minutes,
of my actual wrongdoing. I knew what it meant and it stopped
me even contemplating that behaviour again for many, many years. Yet,
in my human
weakness, I did eventually come to plan to do it yet again. This
time around, a threat suddenly arose to hang over my head. And clearly,
in my mind,
I knew God was making his disapproval very clear again.
The threat hung over my head as my plan moved towards implementation. Virtually at the
last moment, I turned my back on where I had been heading (closing in
on that bad choice). In other words, the threatened consequences were
just not worth it to my thinking ... my good sense actually prevailed.
And then the following event, i.e. after my positive decision, made it so clear to me that God had again been truly
behind it all. Like within a minute or so of my turnaround, I received notice that I was ‘in the clear’. That threatening consequence had totally evaporated. You know what ... I do not think that
temptation will ever resurface again! And so many years have since past to justify that statement.
5.2 God's options when dealing with our bad life choices?
is not to be seen as cruel or harsh in these actions of his. No, he does
it because he loves us! He wants us all to have meaningful
lives, and doesn’t want us lost in some mire that we
cannot dig ourselves out of. Nor does he want us physically or emotionally harming his other ‘children’.
If we do get lost in life, then the
possibility of an effective
relationship with God is extremely limited. The underlying cause of the
problem can even dominate our thinking; our very identity, and
thoughts for others and God, often making us lost even to ourselves.
means that the most important things
that God wants of us are severely compromised.
Bear in mind though, there is a limit to God’s
attempts to put us on
the ‘straight and narrow’ within our lives. God does not normally force
upon us, and when
the wrong things in life present too much of an obsessive interest to
us, he may
well withdraw. In other words he respects our right to ignore him, and
possibly even demolish our actual relationship with him, at
our own peril of course. And as I have alluded, I have recognised that
I was headed in that direction on a couple of occasions during my own
Inevitably, in such circumstances when we don’t heed his warnings, we can suffer
the full consequences of those poor decisions within our lives. But, while there is life
hope (as the saying goes). God will always use our mistakes to
advantage for us when
we re-join our true path of faith. We certainly come to learn from them; gain serious wisdom! He will also assist us to dig ourselves out of any ‘hole’ we may have placed ourselves in ... if we ask for help.
6. ADVICE FROM OTHERS
too, God also guides us with advice through the
mouths of others. First and foremost we are expected by God to
seriously listen to other people’s
relevant quote, again
The way of the fool seems right to him,
wise man listens to advice.
me, I am sure you already know that bad experiences can be a ‘cruel
teacher’, so it is in our best interests to be open to sound advice.
And ‘wise counsel’ often arrives whether we ask for it or
not. I really don’t know the exact
mechanism God uses. Maybe, he gives such people the courage to
advise us in a way that they normally would not. In any case, at this stage in my life, I particularly
take note when advice on a subject of importance to my path
in life comes unexpectedly from someone I know. When it happens to you, there may well be recognition: “Gee, I wasn’t expecting her/him to advise me about that?” I can say there is a kind of ‘bong!’ note to it ... that is intended to unsettle us, i.e. indicate that all may not have been well with our previous reasoning. After years of observation, I almost
certainly know when to take heed of personal advice on life issues when I receive it.
Now obviously not all advice received from friends and family etc will be sound, so we do need to use some discretion here.
But if advice offered to us, in this way, provides sensible alternatives to our own
thoughts on something
important in life – family life,
relationships, education, job, career,
helping others, spiritual journey, acquiring essential assets etc. – then it pays for us to consider it seriously.
I learnt the hard way not
quickly discount advice like that. I
gained my first lesson about not listening to such
advice thirty plus years ago, and the words echoed in my head for a long
time afterwards, in view of the prophetic message I ignored. There were
As you can tell from my admissions on ignoring
forms of guidance from God over the years, learning the hard way many times
over, I have a somewhat impetuous nature (that I
regret) and I am definitely a slow learner. I sincerely
hope you, the reader, can learn from my mistakes.
7. SEEKING AND TRUSTING HIS GUIDANCE
of the odds of these things happening as they do, in examples you can
identify in your own life, relative to these kinds of situations can
indeed be just ‘plain old’ too hard to explain away. I
say without doubt that it becomes all the more obvious as time passes ... when we are actually open to it. We
should, after analysis of past events that are accepted by us as relevant, recognise that
all guidance from God
is actually related to better life outcomes for us and those other people who rely on us.
The next step in our journey with God, in this regard, is to attempt to actively engage with him through his methods of guidance. As such we start to relax into ‘trusting’ him more; moving forward with him in his loving presence. I know I run the
risk of sounding ‘corny’
here, as I now read my own words as the atheist that I once was. But I
ask you to consider this different way of approaching life – that
I share with many other Christians of course – as explained more fully in the articles, “Trusting God day to day” and “Trusting God with your life”.
7.1 Requesting God's guidance
As far as we are concerned here though, why not start to look out for his guidance whenever we face
new challenges; or even ask for
it. Of course this takes us into
new territory, i.e. speaking to him. We are deliberately engaging with him; applying
faith to our lives, just as God intends of us. Again it can apply to all those important areas of our lives: family life,
relationships, spiritual path, education, career and daily work,
helping others, acquiring essential assets etc.
it takes some time, as beginner Christians, to relax into this
of faith and openness. It is here, as I have already alluded, that we are placing ‘trust’ in God’s
From the Old Testament:
Many are the woes of the wicked,
Lord’s unfailing love
the man who trusts in him.
When we are confronted by important decisions that are hard to make we can, as believers, simply ask for guidance through prayer (the
subject of another article in this section of the website). It
is then just a matter of recognising the
guidance – which is
generally made clear to
us – when God responds to our request.
7.2 How God responds
How then, as
Christians, do we expect God to guide us after asking for it?
we might hold
up the logic behind our plans, with our hearts and
minds open to him.
We slow our thinking processes and wait. That is, after the prayer, we wait for strong feelings one way
or the other. This process is known by Christians as “discernment”.
of Bible scriptures, in the case of longer term
Christians, assists in this discernment process by highlighting Biblical indications of what is right or wrong in
expectations. In the words of the Psalmist [119:105], “Your
word is a
lamp to my feet and a light for my path”.
Secondly, and not surprisingly,
we would look out for advice from people we respect, especially
Christian friends and family members. In other words, as I have previously explained under “Advice from others” God will respond to our request through these people.
Thirdly, and again not surprisingly, we would look
for positive and negative
No matter which method God chooses
to show us the best way forward, I can assure you that we do
eventually learn to trust him in his guidance. Again from the Old
the morning bring me word
have put my trust in you.
the way I should go,
you I lift up my soul.
For the final words on guidance I offer this
Biblical quote from the Old Testament:
Your ears will hear a voice behind you,
Continue to the next article, “God’s helping hand”.
is the way; walk in it.”