Divine direction is God’s provision for the darkest hour which is always just before the dawn. By grace He ensures we hear His voice and directs our steps.
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. (Psalm 143:8)
I was reminded this morning, as I meditated and prayed in the early hours, that the darkest hour truly is just before the dawn. In the utterly black stillness of a long night, it’s hard to remember this. In the darkness, things weigh heavily on us. Everything seems larger and more powerful, and we seem much, much smaller. But the dawn will come. That is the promise we’re reminded of in each new day. The crushing blackness must give way to light. It fades gradually into pre-dawn greyness, preparing the sky for the coming glory and power of God. In the moment of despair, we must look to God for our dawn – His divine direction.
The necessity for divine direction.
We’ve all lived relying on self and on our own ability to resolve situations. That was our life before coming to Christ – self made all the plans and the decisions. We applied our intellect and logic and acted on what we thought was best. Sometimes, this brought satisfaction. At other times, it seemed to only bring more chaos and confusion, and we muddled through as best we could. Real crisis, however, is a time when we discover that we absolutely do not have what it takes. We face something that is so much larger and darker than we ever imagined, and simply have no solutions or strength to continue. These are the moments when divine direction is critical.
Crisis is often a dynamic and complex interplay of different factors. The world and the devil work together to bring us down. There is no doubt that spiritual attack is real and powerful. But the tragic reality is that, all too often, our own decisions and self-reliance play a major role of bringing us to breaking point. This is because we underestimate the absolute necessity for divine direction. It’s indisputable that if we relied only on God for guiding and wisdom, we might escape many of the trials we come up against because we’ve made wrong choices.
Divine direction and God’s grace.
The amazing thing about our God, though, is His grace. Through the precious blood of His Son, we don’t have to live in condemnation, continually beating ourselves up over our perceived foolishness. It’s easy, when crushed and broken, to miss the truth that other factors may also be at play. Our current situation may well be partly ‘our fault,’ but it can equally be a single-minded attack designed to break us and destroy our faith. The only way to know the difference is through spiritual discernment. Divine direction is the grace of God in action. It both reveals the problem and provides the way forward.
Realistically, if we found ourselves on a tightrope, we’d be very, very careful. A single step can determine safe passage or whether we plunge off into the abyss. The ‘golden rule’ is never to look down but to fix our eyes on where we are going. God is where we are going, and when we fix our eyes on Him He is our divine direction. But it is His grace that enables us to lift our eyes from the darkness and focus on the light. It is His grace that strengthens us and enables us to take each tentative step forward, trusting in Him to lead us safely to the other side.
The incomplete completeness of divine direction.
This is the apparent anomaly that often confuses us. We somehow imagine that when God provides divine direction, it’s the complete plan of action. It’s a perfect ‘road map’ of every single step, neatly laid out in a logical process that’s easy to follow. I know from experience that God’s direction is always complete and perfect. He has already provided for every single detail, every tiny, wavering step on the tightrope of life. But He seldom, if ever, reveals the whole bang-caboodle all at once. I personally believe that it’s because of our tendency to try to rush from A to Z and skip all the steps in between.
For God’s divine direction to effect the required change, we need to take hold of the truth that every small step is complete in and of itself. Each step is part of the bigger, complete picture. Together, they work the ultimate purpose of God in us and our lives. But this step – this single, tiny, seemingly going-nowhere step in this moment – is utterly complete. Without it, the bigger picture would be incomplete. Our role is to focus on and trust God for every small step revealed, whether we understand it or not. Faith reminds us that when we are obedient in this, He will release the next. While it may feel frustrating, it’s God’s grace at work. One at a time means no opportunity to get confused and miss something or mess up.
Divine direction is God’s love, mercy, and grace.
In that utter darkness of crushing despair, it’s often hard to hang onto the truth that God loves us, and that His mercy and grace are freely available. Desperate people long for desperate measures. We want Him to evidence His love and care by reaching out and sweeping aside our circumstances. Our prayers are for instant deliverance and salvation. But divine direction is like the coming of the dawn. As I watch the skies softening to grey, even as I write this, I see how wisely God releases His love, mercy and grace to us. It’s a slow, gradual process.
God is certainly able to simply open the floodgates of heaven and pour it all out. But the reality is that a battered spirit would not cope. It would be like drowning a thirsty man in a deluge of water. The water may well contain all he needs to regain life, but simply opening the floodgates and positioning him under the overflow will simply drown him. Divine direction is like a steady trickle of water. It seeps in like the soft fingers of a new dawn, gradually tinting the greyness of the sky until the full glory of God is revealed in breath-stealing technicolour. God’s love, mercy, and grace are perfect and complete. He simply releases them in a measure our battered spirits can receive and respond to.
Receiving divine direction.
Today’s verse reminds of two things. Firstly – and we cannot move on to the second unless we firmly grasp this – is that yesterday is gone. ‘In the morning’ is significant. It is today, not yesterday. To receive divine direction, we cannot look back into the darkness of the night. We must look forward into the dawn – into the light that is Christ Himself. This is often the hardest part, because things weigh so heavily and the darkness crowds in, thick and cloying. To see the dawn, to receive divine direction, we must look up. We must look forward and ahead and resolutely turn our backs on the things that weigh us down. It requires a conscious effort to cut loose all that hinders us from seeing the dawn. This doesn’t mean we pretend they don’t exist. It simply means that we look to God who is greater.
The second thing is the outworking of our choice to turn our backs on yesterday. We must look to God. More specifically, we must do so in absolute surrender – lift up our souls to Him. Receiving divine direction requires sacrificial worship, the yielding of self. It means coming to that place where we acknowledge the sovereignty of God. We cannot be guided if self remains even partly in control. The more of us that operates in a situation, the less room there is for God. Only when we reach the point of looking to God alone can He release what we need. It’s a sad truth that sometimes, we need to be utterly broken and in despair before we step aside and let God direct us according to His perfect purposes. The provision is always there. God doesn’t change. But we need to position ourselves to receive the provision through surrender and obedient hearts.
Divine direction is our promise.
The cross is our absolute proof of this. Jesus went before us to prepare the way. He already knows what is required because He has already walked the road. When we have a guide through treacherous territory, we will be sure to place our feet exactly where He places His. This is because He knows the safe route through to the other side. Divine direction is God Himself leading the way. What a joy that is to know. We are reminded of this with every sunrise – God’s recurring promise that the darkest hour is always followed by the dawn.
What this means is that we can look to Him in full assurance. Our faith lies in the fact that His knowledge and provision is perfect. We can also know that He has promised to direct our paths. If we surrender to Him and step out in obedience, no matter how small the step, He will be there. Divine direction is God’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us. It’s His promise to be absolutely faithful. We may be poised on a tightrope, close to plunging to our destruction, but He is there. We only have to lift our eyes to the light and listen for His voice. What God has promised, He will do. He is not a man that He should lie.
God ensures divine direction.
This is a most powerful and life-changing truth. Today’s voice points to something remarkable – we do not have to depend on ourselves to hear God’s divine direction. We simply have to pray that He will cause us to hear us. The promise is that He will make it happen. If we trust in Him, He will make sure we hear Him. If we lift up our soul in surrender and obedience, He will make sure we know the next step. It’s not up to us. We don’t have fear that we will miss something or take a wrong step, confusing the instructions. God Himself is in control, and will make absolutely sure that we hear. It is God who brings the dawn. When He speaks, it must be.
Lord, we thank You for Your grace and encouragement. In our darkest hours, help us to look always and only to You, trusting in Your love, mercy, and grace. We acknowledge our weakness and lift our souls to You. Guide us today with Your perfect wisdom. Teach us where and how to walk. Thank You for the assurance that You will be sure that we Hear Your voice, and give us the courage to surrender all to You in absolute obedience as we wait for the dawn.