Isaiah 58:11 says, “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
I recall my first full time teaching position was particularly challenging as I strived for acceptance in a tight-knit community to whom I was an outsider. I consistently worked over eighty hours per week as a teacher, a single mom in a new house, and taking on more volunteer work at church. I had little time left for sleep. I remember many hours pacing to stay awake while I graded papers. Yet I got up after typically a very short night of rest refreshed to spend a couple of hours in God’s Word and on my knees before waking my daughter and getting ready for school. I knew in this challenging teaching position as a single mom, I needed bible study and prayer more than oxygen.
In Psalm 32:8 God promises, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” We read in Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” I often messed up as a parent and teacher which taught me new things every day, but I always felt God’s strong hand holding me, encouraging me, not letting me give up or continue in the wrong way that would inevitably lead to disaster for me and those children.
There are distinctly different outcomes when we trust and obey God step by step and when we simply venture out on our own wits. Proverbs 3:5,6 urge us to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 16:3 continues, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” I was never a perfect parent or teacher by any stretch of the imagination; however, I know that God blessed me and others through my relationship with Him as I parented and taught.
Because of our human nature we will make mistakes from which we can learn and grow; nonetheless, submitting to the authority and will of Christ over our life leads to peace, joy, and much other good fruit easily distinguished from the fruit of a life endeavored apart from Christ. I will never regret the hours on my knees and in God’s Word.
I have many well-meaning friends who during that first teaching position and for years afterward tried to convince me of my need for moderation. They rationalized that I had to teach and parent and must sleep and eat and have time of rest.
I admit that I am OCD, having a personality equipped with an obsessive compulsive disorder. I embrace it as part of who I am, a quality God built in to me as compensatory helping me to focus on and do the things I need to. Psalm 18:30 has always assured me God not only knows all my details but designed them to work together perfectly to bring Him honor and praise. “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those who trust in him.” To further assure me and calm my fears, God gives us a wonderful promise in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
God gives us friends as a wonderful gift in this life. They encourage us, balance us, help us observe from different perspectives, and provide intellectual and social engagement, a true source of joy. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” First Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us that we are to comfort and edify one another. Paul rejoiced in the beginning of his second letter to the church in Thessalonica that as the individuals’ faith grew, so did their charity toward one another. Friendship is designed by God to bring us closer to Himself.
However good, friends’ words or actions are never to overpower God’s direct leadership during and resulting from earnest prayer and study seeking His will. The Holy Spirit is in each of us who are saved to guide us how, where, and when we should go. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13). Let us never forsake this unparalleled advantage in life. We unleash the power for the Holy Spirit to guide us as we pore over God’s Word intently seeking its full meaning and application to our own lives.
We must live, read, and pray in faith. First Timothy 2:1,3,8 say collectively, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men… for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour… I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Colossians 1:10 continues why this is so important, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” I knew as a single mom and new teacher in a needful community that I could only genuinely love and serve others if I committed time for prayer and fasting concerning them.
Today my situation is very different than it was as a single mom and a new teacher, as certain as your situation had changed or evolved, but God’s call to us all remains the same: to seek Him first, abide in His Word, trust and follow His guidance so that we successfully encourage and challenge others, leading the way to Him, amidst the busyness and demands in our daily lives. Just as Paul challenged the Roman church, I challenge you: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1,2)