For much of my life, I have been fascinated by water and boats. While in high school in Illinois, we lived on a small lake and spent a lot of time on the water swimming, fishing, and water skiing. It didn’t require much imagination to decide how to get from the small beach in front of our house to anywhere around the lake. When I wanted to go to another beach or a favorite fishing spot, I could see it from our pier. All I had to do was get in the boat, start the outboard motor and steer toward the destination. Years later, we lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We had a bigger boat, more water, and a wider choice of destinations that were mostly beyond our vision. Fog and precipitation often obscured even nearby destinations. A safe voyage then required charts, navigational aids, knowing your boat, and understanding the weather. We joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary and took their classes so we would not get lost or drowned.
Our Christian walk can be seen as a voyage of discovery. If we are adventurous, we can go places we have never been and see things we have never seen. Okay, you can be a Christian and stay safely at home and never go to sea, but Jesus calls us to much more. We are called to follow Him and do His will. Each one of us has a unique role to play in the body of Christ and it is up to us to follow through.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NKJV) There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
So if we are called by God to a unique ministry, how do we know what to do or when to do it? If you are like me, the fog and precipitation are so intense that it is difficult to hear God or see where He wants me to go. We need to understand ourselves (our boat), and use the navigation aids God has provided.
God has provided us with four range lights for the direction to which we are being led. His range lights are Scripture, urging of the Holy Spirit, circumstances, and spiritual authority.
Too many of us tend to run ahead of God then we end up in trouble because we missed one or two of the range lights.
Whatever we are about to do must line up with scripture. Too often people decide what they want to do and then try to justify it by taking God’s word out of context or inserting their own opinions.
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Scripture provides an objective direction in that it is often very clear as to how we are to act and respond to the Lord. However, we must be cautious these days because of some unorthodox theologies which have become popular in some places.
Urging of the Holy Spirit:
There are many ways that the Holy Spirit will influence our actions. He may speak to us in any of a number of ways: a still small voice, an audible voice, in a dream or vision, or He may just give us a sense of what you are to do.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 2:7
Unfortunately, the urgings of the Holy Spirit can be objective. If not careful, we can allow our feelings and opinions to color what the Spirit is saying to us.
Circumstances reflect God’s Divine Providence and may also be subject to misinterpretation.
The fourth range light is spiritual authority.
The Lord has placed over each one of us spiritual authority. This could be a pastor, teacher, or another person that you can trust has your best interests at heart as well as someone that is close to God. He or she should feel free to speak truth into your life without a personal agenda. If you do not have any spiritual authority in your life, it is imperative that you find someone before you set off on any perilous voyage.
We have all heard about TV evangelists and powerful church leaders who have lost their way because they did not have anyone they felt were worthy to have authority over them.
All four Range Lights must be in line.
As you enter into strange waters - going places you have never been, make sure that the range lights are lined up. If anyone of them is off, it indicates you are not in the right place or heading in the right direction.
If they are not in line, stay where you are until they line up. A premature sailing on an unknown course can land you on the rocks.