Memo 1057: Asking On The Go
Guidance should never be a problem for those who know the Lord. God's a great communicator and isn't playing cat-and-mouse or hide-and-seek with His people. If He wants us to do His will, and of course He does, then He must reveal what that will is in clear terms. Of course, He must be sought in faith, for without faith it's impossible to please Him, but we are assured that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (see Hebrews 11:6). We see an example of God's ability and desire to guide His people in this week's story of David as he continued his process of coming back to the Lord after flirting with the enemy. Let's go there now.
We saw last week that David had come back to the Lord but it took a near catastrophe for him to come all the way back:
When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:3-6).
Other translations render the last phrase as "David encouraged himself in the Lord." In this crisis, instead of running to the Philistines for solace, David ran to the Lord and found a reservoir of strength. Once he had that, he needed direction concerning his next step, which seemed clear to him but he wanted to hear from the Lord. This is significant, for David's family was taken hostage but he did not run ahead to their rescue as anyone would be expected to do. Instead, he sought the Lord's guidance.
If you and I were God, we may have said, "Oh, now you're back because you need me. You got yourself into this mess and now you want my help. Let me get back to you on that." God was gracious, however, and met David at his point of need:
Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue" (1 Samuel 30:7-8).
We aren't sure how God communicated through the priest and the ephod, but we know that He did. So David set out and along the way found unexpected help in the form of an abandoned Egyptian slave of David's family's captors who was more than willing to lead David to where the raiders and the men's families were: "David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back" (1 Samuel 30:18-19). God's promise of victory was true and David, God's servant and friend, was back where he needed to be.
YOU GO, YOU'LL KNOW
Let me repeat the point I made at the beginning: God wants you to know His will, otherwise how can He expect you to do it? Yet notice that David's posture wasn't "what should I do?" but rather "this is what it seems natural for me to do, God. Should I proceed?" When seeking guidance, it's important to ask good questions, which David did. But he didn't ask from a dead stop; he asked from a posture of action.
When I have an idea for a book, I start to write and ask God for wisdom as to the way forward: how it should be structured, when and how to write it. I would estimate that I complete about 80% of the projects I start because my question isn't "should I write?" but rather "should I write this?" There's a subtle difference between the two, but the one is asked while I am on the move while the other is asking if I should act at all. It's always better to ask guidance questions while you are on the move.
If it's in your heart to take a missions trip, the right question is, "God, should I go?" and not expect God to tell you to go without you asking. In fact, if you have any opportunity to do good, you should assume God wants you to follow through unless He reveals otherwise. And that doing good may involve starting a business, going back to school, or helping a group of people in need—like the homeless or orphans. You can count on God's help where guidance is concerned but not if you're expecting Him to move you forward from a dead stop. You do your part, which is action in faith, and God will do His part, which is revealing to you the way forward so you can enjoy success. Have a blessed week.