One of the challenges of longer roads trips is navigation. These days maps are being replaced by our ever-increasing reliance on a GPS–either a special devise or a cell phone app. But even with that facinating techology, we sometimes end up on less than ideal routes. Spell that L O S T ! 🙂
The task of navigating airplanes is a much greater responsibility. Before taking early retirement, my brother-in-law was a navigator in the air force. (That would be way over my head … Imagine saying to the pilot, “Sir, I think we’re off course a few hundred miles; would you mind pulling over so we could check our directions?”) Thankfully, modern aircrafts have advanced computerized navigation equipment. Satellites in the Global Positioning System provide around-the-clock data worldwide regarding location, velocity, and altitude. 
Navigation is also a great responsibility in Christian living. I’m not speaking of the process of guiding cars or planes; I’m referring to spiritual navigation. How can believers be guided by God in decision making? I’m often asked, “How can I know God’s will in this situation?” “Whom should I marry?” “Should I go to college?” “What kind of career should I aim for?” “What ministry does God want me to have?” “Where should I live?” Often such questions weigh heavily on us. Let’s look at some biblical principles about obtaining guidance from the Lord.
A navigator requires accurate information from several sources. It is also necessary to apply that knowledge to the flight plan. This points to our need for knowledge and wisdom.
Let’s start with a review of our sources of KNOWLEDGE. Where do we turn to get relevant knowledge for personal guidance?
1. Go to the BIBLE, God’s Word.
As the Psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105; See 2 Tim. 3:16,17). Robert Oerter wrote of the fundamental importance of the Bible in our search for guidance: “Surprisingly, much of God’s guidance is easy to discern. It is unclouded by mystery or uncertainty. God has spoken about some things in His Word, and no further revelation is necessary. You don’t stand in perplexity and ask, ‘Is this right for me, or is this wrong?’ You don’t engage in a moral tug-of-war, because God has removed the necessity for conflict on this particular issue. He has given you undebatable guidance.” 
2. Be sensitive to your CONSCIENCE.
This inner witness in our spirit condemns or approves our actions. Although it is not sufficient by itself to guide us (because it can be desensitized by sin-1 Tim. 4:2), it serves to disqualify some choices. We are instructed to not violate our conscience because, “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).
3. Obtain relevant information from reliable COUNSELORS.
Parents, church leaders, and other mature fellow believers can give us additional information and perspectives to consider. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14). Keep in mind that others should not usually give advice (make the decision for you) but give their perspective.
4. Identify PROVIDENTIAL CIRCUMSTANCES.
However, circumstances should not be given excessive influence. Although God did condescend to give Gideon a miraculous sign with the fleece, for us to require a sign may be putting God to the test (Judges 6:36-40; Matt. 4:7). Yet, God’s providence does “open and close doors” of opportunity. Paul experienced this aspect of guidance: “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas” (Acts 16:6-8; See Rev. 3:8). This led to the vision that called Paul to Macedonia.
Not only should we avail ourselves of such relevant sources information, we also need WISDOM in using this knowledge to make decisions. How can we gain wisdom in seeking God’s guidance?
1. Be filled with the HOLY SPIRIT.
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Since God’s Spirit is the “Spirit of Wisdom” (Isaiah 11:2), He is our ultimate guide. We need to confess any sin that may grieve or quench Him and yield to Him full control of our lives (1 John 1:9; Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:29).
Alan Redpath wrote on the need for us to have a submissive heart in seeking God’s will:
“The Holy Spirit guides the man’s spirit, not [merely] the man’s mind. Guidance is not discovered in relation to the problem, but guidance is discovered in relation to Jesus Christ… We want to stand up for ourselves and have our own way; but it is the MEEK whom God guides in judgment [Psalm 25:8,9]. The CONDITION OF AN ENLIGHTENED MIND IS A SURRENDERED HEART… If a man in his heart is right with God, God will deal with the problem. We often start the question of guidance at the wrong end. We are TRYING all the time; we are worrying our way through; we are panicky. What shall we do next? What is the next step in life? We are concerned about our mind. God is concerned about our spirit–the humble. the contrite, and the brokenhearted–that man God will always guide.” 
2. PRAY for wisdom.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Wisdom involves the ability to skillfully apply knowledge to the practical issues of life–including the issue of guidance.
3 TRUST GOD to guide you.
God is not trying to hide His will; He purposes to guide those who look to Him constantly. As Proverbs 3:5,6 promise, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
Bob Mumford testifies of the need to depend fully on the Lord: “All of God’s dealings in our life are designed to destroy our dependence upon ourselves. This is one of the reasons guidance must be a STEP-BY-STEP proposition… When we walk with God we learn that guidance is not given all at once… When we have been taught the principles of walking with God it is necessary that we submit to this stripping away SELF-DEPENDENCE and SELF-DETERMINATION.” 
4. Use your “SOUND MIND.”
At first, the concept of using our mind (logic) appears to contradict the proverb “and lean not on your own understanding.” That’s because logic INDEPENDENT of God’s Word, Spirit, and grace is untrustworthy in spiritual matters.
Yet, we should use our illumined mind in the process of discerning God’s guidance. Note that Paul declared, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). We are to love the Lord with our mind and use sanctified logic in decision making (Matt. 22:37; Isaiah 1:18).
As we use our minds we consider issues such as our VALUES. (“What is important in this situation? How do my God-centered values rate my options?”-Matt 6:33).
We also consider the possible RISKS. (“Does one option have a risk factor that make it an imprudent choice? Do my other spiritual values compensate for this risk factor?”)
Have we considered all the options, or are we limiting ourselves to just “A versus B” ? Listing benefits and liabilities (pros and cons) can help us rate options more objectively.
5. Anticipate the PEACE OF CHRIST to confirm your decision. As Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” The concept of “rule” here is to “act as a referee.” If God withholds His peace, chances are we need to reexamine our steps of seeking His guidance.
This does not mean that the path of His leading will always be easy. After going to Macedonia–in obedience to God’s leading–Paul and Silas ended up being flogged and imprisoned in Philippi! (Acts 16:22-24). But praise God for the jailer’s conversion and their vindication!
The whole process of seeking God’s guidance flows from the assurance that Christ indwells us as our unfailing Navigator (1 Cor. 1:30; John 10:2-4).
“Elizabeth Elliot tells of two adventurers who stopped by to see her, all loaded with equipment for the rain forest east of the Andes. They sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the Indians. She writes: ‘Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me–confident and, we think, well-informed and well equipped. But has it occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?’ She suggests that we often ask God for too little. We know what we need–a yes or no answer, please, to a simple question. Or perhaps a road sign. Something quick and easy to point the way. What we really ought to have is the Guide himself. Maps, road signs, a few useful phrases are things, but infinitely better is someone who has been there before and knows the way.” 
As you abide in Christ, you will learn more and more to depend on God for all of your needs–including the need for guidance. The Lord will be faithful to use these biblical means to direct your path. And so, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it'” (Isaiah 30:21).
 “Navigation”; “NAVSTAR,” in Grolier Y2000 Multimedia Encyclopedia
 Robert Oertler Jr., “Undebatable Guidance,” in Essays on Guidance (IVP) p.25,26.
 Alan Redpath, Getting to Know God’s Will, (IVP), p.6-8.
 Bob Mumford, Take Another Look at Guidance,”(Logos), p.146, 148.
 Elizabeth Elliot, A Slow and Certain Light, reviewed in http://www.sermonillustrations.com
I realize that this short article is not the last word on this profound topic. If you have a testimony or insight, feel free to drop me a line.-JBW
Copyright John Woodward, 2000; revised 2016. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use if credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com. Biblical quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (copyright, Thomas Nelson).