Following the Holy Spirit as Your Safe Guide
I want to encourage you this month about avoiding not only dangerous pitfalls on the road of your life, but also preventing frustration that comes from leaning to your own understanding and trying to live life in your wisdom and strength. Proverbs 3:5 and 6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
There are paths before us that lead to our destinations and callings, but the Lord must direct our steps or we can find ourselves taking extra, unnecessary steps — or wandering off the path altogether. Whatever plan or purpose God has called us to fulfill, the Holy Spirit knows how to get us there faster and safer!
Let me explain this spiritual truth using a natural illustration. In years past when people we know have visited Moscow, Denise and I would occasionally give them a tour of the Kremlin. Because people new to the city usually want to see the Kremlin, we have been there so many times over the years when we have guests. We know by heart all the best routes and shortcuts through this historic, large complex of buildings.
Each time we visit the Kremlin, I am amazed to see people in other groups taking the longest, most difficult route on that extensive tour. I think, Why are they taking the longest and hardest route possible? If I were leading them, I could save them a lot of time and energy. Those people would ultimately get the same tour as they explored on their own, but the route they took required twice the time and energy as the tour I could give them.
As I was pondering this one day, I started thinking of all the times each of us could have avoided wasting precious time and energy if we had only allowed the Holy Spirit to lead us. We may eventually get to the same point in life, but if we try to go it alone, it usually means we’ll take twice as long to get there and the journey will be much harder.
The Holy Spirit sees everything, and He wants to guide us through life into the future. He knows every “nook and cranny” and bend on the road of life. If we reach out and take His hand, He will lead us on shortcuts that will save time, energy, and many tears.
In John 16:13, Jesus used described this kind of a guide to explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will cause you to know the things which are to come.”
The word “show” is the Greek word odegeo, and it is the word for a guide who shows a traveler the safest course through an unknown country. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our Guide!
The Holy Spirit knows the way we should go in life. He knows how to avoid every trap and attack, and He knows the safest and fastest route for us to take. When we’re stepping into territory that is new to us, it is imperative that we let the Holy Spirit lead us, for He wants to show us the precise route to take so we can successfully reach the place God has put in our hearts. This is part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives — to get us safely to our God-ordained points of destination.
In the life of Jesus, we see this guiding work of the Holy Spirit very clearly. Consider the following real-life scenarios in which the Holy Spirit led Jesus perfectly during His earthly walk and ministry.
Jesus was led by the Spirit not to go to Bethany to see Lazarus when His friend was sick unto death. Hostile Jewish leaders expected Jesus to come to Lazarus’ aid and were waiting there to trap him. Jesus waited two days after hearing of Lazarus’ sickness. It must have been difficult for Jesus to refrain from rushing to Lazarus’ side, but the Holy Spirit guided Him to stay away from that place because there were people there who wanted to stone Him (see John 11:1-11).
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to go to Bethany the moment the Jewish leaders left. When Jesus didn’t appear after Lazarus had died, the religious leaders concluded He wasn’t coming, so they left the graveside. As soon as these evil leaders had abandoned Bethany and this treacherous situation had passed, the Holy Spirit gave Jesus the go-ahead to travel to Bethany, where He raised Lazarus from the dead. Thus, because Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to guide Him and only left for Bethany after He sensed a release to go, He avoided an ugly confrontation with angry religious leaders (see John 11:11-45).
Jesus was led by the Spirit through dangerous situations on many occasions. When religious leaders with evil intentions wanted to capture and kill Jesus, He was supernaturally guided by the Spirit right through the midst of the crowd, escaping injury and harm (see Luke 4:29,30; John 8:59; 10:39).
If you study the book of Acts, you will find that the Holy Spirit constantly guided people through hard and difficult territory. In each case, He would protect people from danger or from making mistakes; He would help them avoid those who wished to hurt them; or He would lead them away from a fruitless situation to a place of blessing.
The following are some instances in which the Holy Spirit warned the Early Church in advance about persecutions, famines, and other trials — guiding them safely through and around many treacherous moments.
The Holy Spirit led the Early Church to prepare for a soon-coming famine. Because the early believers responded to this word from the Spirit that was delivered through the prophet Agabus, they were guided safely through this hardship (see Acts 11:27-29).
The Holy Spirit led the apostle Paul and his team to stay away from Bithynia. The Bible doesn’t tell us why the Spirit forbade them to go to this destination. Perhaps there were unknown dangers awaiting them of which they were unaware. The Holy Spirit was guiding them away from danger as He directed them to take another, more important route (see Acts 16:7).
The Holy Spirit led the apostle Paul to the region of Macedonia to preach the Gospel by speaking to him in a dream. Paul was so convinced that the Spirit was guiding him that he and his team immediately changed plans and followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to Macedonia, where they reaped great fruit for the Kingdom of God (see Acts 16:9).
Being led by the Spirit is one of the privileges we receive as children of God. Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” The word “led” is the Greek word ago, which is the picture of someone gently leading someone else. This means the Spirit will lead us, but we must extend our hearts and hands to Him first, for without our cooperation, He cannot guide us anywhere.
Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we are left to find our way on our own. This no doubt means we will waste valuable time, energy, and money — not to mention shed a lot of unnecessary tears along the way! The Holy Spirit sees what we can’t see; knows what we don’t know; and understands the best routes, the most efficient shortcuts, and the safest paths to take. Since this is the kind of Leader the Holy Spirit is, we would be wise to let Him lead us!
If you only knew how many times the Spirit of God has wanted to be your Leader in the situations of life! He knew exactly how to lead you past every attack. He knew how to avoid each strategy that the devil had plotted against you. But even if you didn’t accept His guidance in the past, you don’t have to continue making that same mistake, trying to forge your way through life by yourself. You can extend your heart to the Holy Spirit today. Let Him take you by the hand — and He will safely guide you to the place God wants you to go!
How can Denise and I and our team pray for you this month? We count it one of our greatest honors to stand in faith with you for the answers you seek. And we really do love you and thank God for you!
We are your friends, your brother and sister, and partners in Jesus Christ!
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families