I have been giving examples of God’s guidance from my own life so that we can see how it might work out in practice. So far we have seen the role of Circumstantial Signs and Compelling Spirit.
God also guides us through Common Sense, Commanding Scripture and Counsel of the Saints.
In our decision whether to leave Clayesmore and return to St John’s College, common sense was in favour of the latter. In England at that time the retirement age was 60. At St John’s it was 63 with a possibility of continuing to 65. That would open up the possibility of a further five years of ministry.
In my daily Bible reading, verses referring to deliverance began to jump off the page at me, as it were. Commanding Scripture. Deliverance implies a change of circumstances, does it not?
“Strange,” I thought. “I’ve heard of being delivered from Johannesburg but never to it!”
Actually I’m joking. I was born there and spent the first 18 years of my life there.
But actually the verses were from God. Owing to circumstances that I could not foresee at the time, further ministry where we were would have become increasingly difficult.
Finally there is the Counsel of the Saints.
This is advice from wiser, mature Christians. And we should ask for such counsel not only from those we think might agree with us, but from those who might not.
To my surprise my spiritual director said to me, “I’m still holding out for South Africa for you.”
I actually thought that he would have advised us to remain in England.
So all five CS’s had lined up.
But then, predictably, there was a curved ball.
Every call of God is opposed. Listen to St Paul:
“A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” (1 Corinthians 16:9 NASB)
Or sometimes the opposition seems to come from God. There is a wide open door, and then it threatens to swing shut.
Perhaps God is saying, “Do you trust me?”
Or “Do you want this because you want it, or because I want it?”
In any event, after all the CS’s were favorable, the door threatened to close.
But this curved ball came from a totally unexpected quarter.
Next Post: “The Opposition”
* These terms come from Nicky Gumbel’s brilliant book, Questions of Life