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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Byers


Updated: Oct 13, 2021

The Israelites in the wilderness were led in the daytime by a cloud and in the night by fire. Even then this presence was the “Holy Spirit in the midst of them” (Isa. 63:1). We now wonderfully understand that the Holy Spirit is guiding us (although I occasionally wish I could just see the moving cloud or column of fire!)

In trusting, listening and obeying we receive guidance from the Lord. We don’t need to anxiously focus on missing his leading, rather we press in to the one who is faithful. We can trust his guidance even when his strategies and plans are unknown to us until his times of revealing . Because we’ve asked him, more than we know he is at work setting things in order and ordering events to guide us.

He invites us to partner with him, neither assuming nor resisting his movements. Trust doesn’t demand that we understand how and why, only that we lean in. How many times has he cleared away for us the hillocks and mountains, often unknown by us? How many quagmires have we avoided because of his care? Yet sometimes our fear of the unknown has kept us from simply resting in him with grateful, confident hearts until we see him act.

We can trust he will close the ways we’re not to take and disclose the ones we are to step into. In Acts 16:6-9 Paul and Timothy were traveling and had been “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” He certainly shut tight their way! On that same journey when they tried to go into a certain region, “the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.” But in a night vision Paul saw a Macedonian man who appealed to Paul to come over and help them in Macedonia. Paul and Timothy were specifically guided – God’s “no” forbidding one way yielded to a “yes” in a different, more fruitful direction determined by the Spirit. Later, a time did come when Paul set his face for Jerusalem “compelled by the Spirit” (Acts 20:22).

We don’t always receive understanding of how God is going to guide, but he invites us into discovery. Being a disciple is a discovery born of trust. When we can’t understand or trace his hand we can rest in his goodness and his good intentions toward us. He does know the plans he has for us and they are for good and not for evil; they give us hope and a future laid out by the one who guides us in paths of righteousness (Jer. 29:11). We can be a confident people because we know the one we believe and are persuaded that what we entrust to him he keeps (2 Tim. 1:12). He has promised to guide us with his eye on us (Ps. 32:8), and to act on our behalf because we wait for him (Isa. 64:4). Who really needs fires and clouds when we have magnificent promises like this?

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