New Foundation Fellowship

Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel

“God's guidance is sure and perfect, but our discernment can always fail.” This is often the argument put forward to counter claims that we can know and do the will of God in this life.

But if we focus on human weakness rather than on the power of God, we might not notice how God intervenes to correct us when we are going wrong and don't realize it.

Recently I experienced such an intervention. A minor episode in my work had been claiming part of my attention because it had annoyed me—and because I'd been right. I'd simply bumped into human behavior as it is in this world: inconsistent and sometimes unreasonable.

So I couldn't quite stop thinking about pursuing this beyond what I needed to do to complete that job. What would those people say if I confronted them, or asked pointed questions, or in other ways satisfied my urge to continue to “be right”? I also wanted to know why these people had “behaved that way.”

These thoughts didn't occupy much of my consciousness, but neither did they go away nor even die down. Although I took no action, I wondered what motivated the parties concerned and contemplated what I might do or say.

This had been going on for about a week, when I had a dream that was obviously a message from God. It was unmistakable: “You are going the wrong way. Stop now. Turn around and go back.”

Upon awaking, I began to think and pray about what situation in my life he was referring to, and it didn't take me long to figure out that it was connected to this episode. I have to drop my preoccupation with being right, I realized; and also forget my urge to retort or somehow to get in the last word. God has ordered me to turn away from it all—immediately.

So I did. As the weeks passed, and I pondered this message from God, I began to realize why I needed it: my discernment had failed or rather, had not even been engaged. I couldn't see that I'd been going wrong, so He had to intervene. Furthermore, His correction had to be absolutely clear. Sure enough, it was so clear that I needed no discernment to understand it; just those few minutes' thought right after I awoke.

There was a stern, uncompromising quality about that dream, and yet I also felt God's love and care. He had no intention of letting me stray; He wanted me to walk in the paths of life and did what was necessary to correct me.

So it's true that our discernment will fail, but our human abilities aren't the only factor in the equation. If we are going wrong, He will warn us. If we are listening with all our hearts—with no reservations—His voice will be impossible to mistake, and we can count on His guidance in all things.

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Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 5thMo. 6, 2015 at 11:35

Thanks very much for this, Becky. It covers essential points of the inward struggle that results when we deal with those who in a worldly way reject guidance of their reason and/or conscience. The temptation to focus on their error and what we can do to right the wrong can be overwhelming, perhaps because we are attuned to and determined to remedy breaches of reason and conscience in ourselves.

You've hit the nail on the head when you contrast the mistaken option of focusing on human weakness with the good option of attending to God for a solution: discernment. The line in the Lord's Prayer about forgiving "our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" moves us away from focusing on others' errors and puts us where we need to be: clearing any obstacles between us and God. 

That God takes the initiative to help us out during such temptations is wonderful, and knowing that power and perfection of the Lord, our Righteousness, which outstrips our own efforts at righteousness,  makes us more willing to undergo whatever we need to undergo in order to be more open to His Guidance. 

Comment by Ellis Hein on 5thMo. 7, 2015 at 12:34

Becky, It seems to me that you could say a lot more about the internal process that lead you to be in an state that was willing to receive guidance, correction, or redirection.

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