PROVISION FOR GUIDANCE
Learning to Be Led
Who hasn’t heard the saying, “When all else fails, follow the directions”? For whatever reason—pride, laziness, hurry, the pioneer spirit—human beings are often reluctant to receive guidance. We like to chart our own course, make our own way, create our own future. But we’re the first to holler when we get lost! Think of dads putting toys together on Christmas Eve. How hard could it be to assemble a tricycle? A couple of hours later—with nuts and bolts, pliers and screwdrivers, and patience and joy all gone with the wind—the plaintive plea is heard: “Has anybody seen the instructions?”
In much the same way, God approaches us as we face key life decisions and says, “We can do this the hard way, or we can do this the easy way.” While the Bible doesn’t exactly say this, the principle is there. Not convinced? Then consider this corollary: If it is true that God has invested heavily in us (He has; 1 Cor. 6:20), and if it is true that He has a purpose for us (it is; Eph. 2:10), then it is reasonable for us to assume that He will accomplish His purposes for our lives (He will; Isa. 46:11; 1 Thess. 5:24). It is wise, therefore, for us to receive and follow God’s guidance.
God’s guidance revolves around two potential directions: ours and His. When we want to go His direction, we gladly accept His guidance (that’s “the easy way”). But when His guidance leads us in a direction we would rather not go and we resist, He has to take us there instead of guiding us there (that’s “the hard way”). Jonah’s mission in this short book epitomizes the latter of these two options. Unlike other biblical figures who learned the error of their ways and repented (read about King David’s experience and confession in Psalm 32), Jonah seems to have remained obstinate in this case.
God’s generous offer to guide us is balanced with a warning: Do not be like beasts who must be forced to follow directions (Ps. 32:9). Or, we might add, do not be like Jonah who was compelled by God to learn lesson after lesson. Instead, receive the guidance of God with joy. What other guidance could possibly be as good as His?
The path on which He leads you is smoother than the one He forces you to take.