9. ALMIGHTY GUIDANCE
"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go—I will guide you with My eye. Psalm 32:8
No more precious assurance can I have, than this—that I am under the constant, loving guidance of my heavenly Father—that He appoints the bounds of my habitation, and overrules all events for my good—that my whole life is a plan arranged by Him. Every little apparent contingency, as well as every momentous turn and crisis-hour, forms part of that plan—a 'thought of God.' "God examines every path a man takes." "A man's heart devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps."
"I will instruct you and teach you." How patiently does this almighty Preceptor train, and with what infinite wisdom and tenderness does He adapt His varied teachings to the needs and requirements of His people! It is "line upon line;"—or if need be, cross upon cross—trial upon trial. Or it may be that startling providences are no longer required—the gentle indications of His will are enough—"I will guide you with My eye." The earthquake—the hurricane—the wind—the fire, may now have fulfilled their mission. "The still, small voice" is now sufficient.
And how does He promise to teach and to guide? Not in the way that we would like to go—the way of our own choosing, but "the way which you shall go." Often we would decide on pursuing the sunny highway. But God says, 'the rough mountain-track is best for you.' Often we would, like Israel, take the near and smooth road to Canaan by the land of the Philistines. But God's pillar-cloud decides otherwise, and takes us by a circuitous route "by the way of the wilderness." Often we would prefer, like the disciples at Tiberias, the safe path by the seashore, so as to avoid the gathering storm, "for the wind is contrary." But God says, "No." He constrains us to get into the ship.
It is not for us to question His plans. He led His people of old—He leads them still—by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. There is a day coming when, in the words of Augustine, "both vessel and cargo safe, and not a hair of our heads hurt, we reach the haven of our desire," we shall own the wisdom of every earthly lesson, the "needs-be" of every wave in the troubled sea.
The gardener has occasionally to subject his plants to apparently rough usage—cutting, lopping, mutilating; reducing them to unsightly shapes before they burst into flower. Summer, however, before long, vindicates the wisdom of his treatment, in its clusters of varied fragrance and beauty. So also, at times, does our heavenly Husbandman see fit to use His pruning-knife. But be assured there is not one superfluous or redundant lopping. We shall understand and acknowledge an infinitely wise necessity for all, when the plant has unfolded itself into the full flower, bathed in the tints and diffusing the fragrance of heaven.
Believer, go up and on your way, rejoicing in the teaching and guidance of unerring Wisdom—"I will guide you with My eye." The sleepless eye of Israel's unslumbering Shepherd is upon you by day and by night—in sickness and in health—in joy and in sorrow—in life and in death. "Does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it?"
But the Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love. Psalm 33:18