Psalm 25:12 Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord?
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
Where the NIV says, “the way chosen for him,” the Japanese says, “the way he should choose.” That difference touches on the whole question of free will vs. predestination, but what David was writing about was guidance. We often claim we want God to guide us, and we often agonize over multiple choices in our lives. However, David starts this verse with the first essential for hearing God accurately: fearing Him. This isn’t a cowering-in-the-corner, trying-to-get-away sort of fear, but rather an awareness that God’s strong and I’m not, God’s smart and I’m not. It’s a conviction that God always has the best idea. When that is our attitude, obedience to God is the only logical course of action. When we don’t have that attitude, we’re only asking God for advice in order to get a step up, rather than seeking to fit into His perfect plan for our lives. It doesn’t take much thought to realize which of those would be pleasing to God.
Like everyone else, my life has been a succession of choices. At times I have sought God’s will, but far too often I have ignored Him. When I think of how He has guided and protected me even when I wasn’t seeking Him, I am filled with gratitude for His grace. A prime example of that is my marriage. At the time I was courting my wife, I had no regular devotional life, and actually hardly ever prayed, if I recall correctly. I was tired of church, and thought I was a better Christian than all the hypocrites I saw there. I certainly didn’t fast and pray about who I should choose as a life partner! In spite of that, God gave me an almost instant conviction that this was the woman for me, to the point that I wrote my parents Monday night, after our first real date on Sunday, that I had found the girl I wanted to marry, and on Thursday of the following week we got engaged! Such a scenario seems fraught with danger, but that was 50 years ago, and the wisdom of God’s choice is clear to all. At the time I married her I had no idea that God had called her to be a missionary when she was 12, and just after she turned 13 He had made it clear that was to be to Japan. As I look back how, I can only shake my head in amazement at the depth of His love and grace. Frankly, when I got married I had completely forgotten that God had called me as a missionary when I was 10. All of that aside, as a pastor I frequently have people come to me with questions about decisions in their lives. Sometimes I ask them, “What does God say?” Often they respond that they don’t know, but that is generally less than honest. Usually we know, on some level, but we want our own way instead. How we choose shows whether we genuinely fear God, in the ways I outlined above. I am not to dictate to people how they should choose, but I am to seek to help them accept that God’s way is best, whatever that is, so that they will recognize and follow it in and from their own heart, rather than as some external command.
Father, thank You for this reminder of Your absolutely amazing grace. Help me be an open channel of that grace to others, so that, fearing You, they may recognize Your guidance and choose the way You have prepared for them, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!