On the southern coast of Victoria, Australia, there is a small beach where the remains of two different shipwrecks can be seen: Wreck Beach.
Wishing to see the wrecks, my husband and I bounced over a very rough, unpaved road for over 6 km and then scooted down a steep, 350-step staircase. Here, however, our quest screeched to a halt. We had been told that the wrecks were on the other side of a rocky projection, and that we would have to walk for about a kilometer to reach them. The problem was, we found ourselves in the middle of long stretch of beach with rocky protrusions both to our left and to our right, and absolutely no sign to tell us where the wrecks could be found! If we turned the wrong way, it would mean many extra kilometers of walking in sand.
There was only one tiny clue: A twin set of footprints leading down the beach to our right, while the sand was completely undisturbed to our left. We turned to the right, and in the end, it was the right decision.
It all made me think…
So often in life we need guidance. We stand, so to speak, at the bottom of those stairs on that open beach, and we don’t know whether to go to the right or to the left. There is no sign and no one to ask.
But God has promised to give us the guidance we seek: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5 NLT). Even if we have sinned against Him, He is still there to teach us: “Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20-21 NLT).
Just like there were indications on the beach as to which direction we needed to go in order to find the wrecks, God gives us the guidance we require. We have a choice, however. When I saw those footprints leading off to the right, I could have simply ignored them. In the same way, we often ignore the guidance God gives us. We figure it isn’t logical, or it isn’t in keeping with our own will, and we choose to go the other way. Meanwhile, “right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go.'” (Isaiah 30:21).
Why is it sometimes so hard to hear and follow that voice of guidance?
This Isaiah text goes on to give us a clue: “Then you will destroy all your silver idols and your precious gold images. You will throw them out like filthy rags, saying to them, ‘Good riddance!'” (Isaiah 30:22 NLT).
In other words, there was something standing between the people and God. When we are not wholeheartedly following God, we will not hear His voice of guidance. In the same way that I had to seek the signs left on the beach, we also have a role to play in achieving the guidance we require. We must put aside anything that has become our “idol”. We need to put aside our own personal ambitions and desires. We need to empty our hearts of our pride and our selfish ambitions. When we do, we will hear God’s voice as He says, “This is the way you should go.”
One more thought comes from the fact that we chose to follow the footprints left by others. In the same way, we are told to follow in Jesus’ footprint: “He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21b. See alsoEph. 5:1-2). This means that when we are completely stumped, we need to ask ourselves: Which one would lead to unselfish love? We will never go wrong when we choose the path that is following Jesus’ example of selflessness and love.
In summary, God’s guidance is ours for the taking, but in order to hear His voice of wisdom, we need to empty ourselves of our own ambitions and selfish desires, and we need to choose the path that follows after Jesus’ example!
Oh, and the next time you find yourself in Victoria, Australia, standing at the bottom of 350 steep stairs and wondering which direction to go to find the shipwrecks, follow the footprints leading off to the right. You won’t go wrong!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
P.S. There is this other component to receiving God’s guidance…We need to recognize His voice. If you are stumped as to how to hear and recognize God’s voice, I invite you to click here for previously-published devotionals on the subject, or email me and I’ll be happy to give you some ideas.