Have you ever driven through a city you’ve never been in before…during rush hour? If so, you know the tension associated with finding your way in an unfamiliar place. The entire time you’re anxiously alert, paying attention to every road sign along the way.
Life is a lot like that, but thankfully, God has placed plenty of road signs to guide us. If we pay attention, those signs will take us to God’s will…
The past two weeks we’ve learned a lot about God’s will, and how to find it. This week I want to point out four types of “road signs” God uses to guide us through life.
Let’s take a look at a time God used all four signs to show the Apostle Paul what he should do. Paul was faced with a particularly tough decision. For years, he’d been in Greece and Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). But he felt drawn to go back to Jerusalem, where Christians were under a lot of pressure.
The book of Acts tells us why he chose to make the difficult trip to such a dangerous place…
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.”
- Acts 20:22-24 (NIV)
Now, let’s look at each type of “sign” described in this story...
The first sign is the prompting of the Holy Spirit…
Notice that Paul was “compelled.” The original Greek word here is “deo,” which means “bound or wrapped up.” Inside, Paul felt as if he had been tied with a rope and was being pulled to Jerusalem.
“Pneuma” is the Greek word that was translated as “Spirit.” It means “breath” or “air.” Just like fresh air, you can’t see the Holy Spirit. But you know he’s there, propelling you toward God’s will.
If you’re a Christian, this should be happening all the time. It’s not just a church thing…it’s a life thing. And it can happen a lot of ways.
Perhaps you wake up thinking about a friend and can’t escape the thought you should pray for them.
Maybe you have a serious decision to make, and all the options are in line with God’s providential and moral will. You pray for help in making the right choice…and the Holy Spirit pulls you toward one over the other.
The next sign is what I call certain uncertainty…
Even when you KNOW God wants you to do something, there are times you won’t understand why…or what will be the outcome.
Paul experienced this as he looked for God’s will. In so many words he said, “I’m certain I’m going to Jerusalem, but I’m uncertain what will happen.”
This is where faith comes in. Culture says, “Show me, then I will believe.” But Jesus said “Believe, then you will see it.”
To be honest, I don’t like certain uncertainty…or the way it makes me feel. But the greatest rewards are results of faith. As St. Augustine wrote:
“Faith is to believe what we do not see. The reward of faith is to see what we believe.”
The third sign is predictable resistance…
The moment you decide to look for God’s will, the enemy will begin planning ways to stop you. Paul knew this, and was often given advance notice:
“...in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me”.
- Acts 20:23 (NIV)
When you’re living for God you won’t always move forward. Opposition can be fierce, and there are times you’ll take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. But that’s OK! Resistance is inevitable, but failure is optional. Remember, when you know you’re doing God’s will, difficulties confirm that you’re doing right. Keep moving and don’t stop!
The last sign is uncommon clarity…
Paul had one goal…the “testifying of the gospel of God’s grace.” Regardless of any uncertainty or resistance, he would not stop.
When you get a glimpse of God’s will, focus on it and never surrender. Be like a cat chasing a mouse: pursue it with all you have.
God has shown me several things I must pursue completely. One is to be a godly husband…to love Kristi like Christ loved the church. Another is for me to be in vocational ministry. He wants me to teach and train people to be disciples of Jesus. I can’t afford to entertain anything that would draw me away from any of these goals.
What are some things about which you have uncommon clarity? Never give up on them, even when uncertainty and resistance sets in. As you move forward, remember the pull of the Holy Spirit. Let him propel you further into God’s plan.