“And He Shall Direct Your Paths”
Written by Dr. Bill Bagents
Some believers disavow any form of divine guidance. In their view, divine guidance is an illogical concept. In the first place, they ask, “If God guides, then what about free will? How can we consistently affirm the personal responsibility and accountability of each individual?” Others add, “If God guides, then why do bad things happen to good people? Why doesn’t God keep them out of harm’s way?” Others query, “If God guides, how does He guide? If you can’t tell me how, then I can’t believe it.”
If God guides, how does He guide? He guides through His word (Psalm 119:105-106). He guides through the advice or assistance of others (Acts 9:23-25 and 23:11-22). He guides through providence, opening and closing “doors” that may not even be visible to us (Romans 1:13). Only by looking back through the eyes of faith do we come to see that God must have had a hand in directing events. Admittedly, this is an attribution made in faith, and it is certainly not a claim that we know all the mechanisms that God uses to bless and protect us.
If God guides, then why do bad things happen to good people? Why doesn’t God keep them out of harm’s way? We have no idea why God allowed James to be executed, but rescued Peter (Acts 12). We have no idea why God allowed righteous Uriah to be killed while adulterous David was spared. We don’t know why their first child died, but David and Bathsheba lived. We have no idea why God allowed a lie to kill his servant in 1 Kings 13, while the prophet who told the lie was allowed to live. We don’t know because God did not choose to reveal that information. He doesn’t owe us an explanation. Some mysteries are beyond us. Perhaps they serve to remind us of our limitations. Dwelling on the mysteries rather than the facts of revelation seems futile.
If God guides, then what about free will? How can we consistently affirm the personal responsibility and accountability of each individual? The fact that God guides those who are willing to be guided does not imply that His guidance is overwhelming or irresistible. Obviously, it is possible to reject the will of God (Luke 7:30). It is possible to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). It is possible to reject the gospel and to fail to love the truth (2 Thessalonians 1:8 and 2:11). It’s possible, but it’s deadly. God wants to direct our paths, but He does so only with our consent and cooperation.