I admit it - I have been missing the mark of late.
How could I write a book about hearing God and how to make decisions using God's guidance and 'suddenly' find myself not making good decisions?
Where did I go wrong?
It started out innocently enough. I had just finished my last errand in preparation for Thanksgiving when a thought popped into my mind to make just one more little stop and just one more little purchase. I reasoned - it makes sense. I need to replace that 10 year old article of clothing and better now than when the rush of Christmas shopping starts. Besides the store that popped into my mind was just a block away. Off I went.
It took an unusually long period of time to find the item, but finally I had what I came for (or so I thought) and checked out at the register.
At home I discovered that the item did not fit (even though it was my size), and I hadn't bothered to check that it was made of a material that I do not like to wear.
That meant another trip the next day to return the item. Back in my car I decided to pray. Where could I find what I was looking for? This time I was certain of the Lord's direction and headed off to that store. Sure enough, there was the right item made in the fabric I like, but not in my size. So I bought a size larger and drove home. Not good.
Another bad decision. The item was way too big! Not even close. God had my attention now.
That evening as I was editing a theological paper for a friend, I came across one of his examples on how God guides us. It was about a woman he met who was uncertain about which direction to take in an important matter. She felt like God was leading her to soak in His presence and not take any action unless she heard differently from the Lord. Soaking meant sitting, focusing on the Lord and clearing her mind of anything but waiting upon and listening for Him to guide.
Then I remembered--that woman was me! Quite a few months ago he and I had discussed this issue of God's guidance and the importance of waiting on the Lord.
Six months later how could I have forgotten to spend time immersing myself in His presence? I realized my priorities were OUT OF ORDER!
Sure, I was reading my Bible every morning and going through the list of people for whom I intercede. But subtle distractions had crept in. I found myself picking up my phone first to check for texts before picking up His Word. That morphed into reading an eye-catching email before spending time in prayer. Just one couldn't hurt, could it? Before I knew it, other small distractions would squeeze their way into the front of the line, ahead of God.
Even though I was spending the same amount of time in prayer, I was at times forgetting to ask God, "What is on Your heart?" first and foremost before launching into intercession for others. Many times it came as my last request, and sometimes I even forgot to ask at all.
I thought back over several other decisions that were not directed by God. I had wasted my time and His. It is indeed a very slippery slope that causes us to fall into bad habits--ones that are not in themselves evil--but behaviors that throw our priorities out of order.
Matthew 6:33 exhorts us to seek Him first and all the things that we need will follow.
When we find ourselves making poor choices, not having clarity of thought, struggling with confusion and wasting time, perhaps our priorities are out of order.
I pray that during this season of Thanksgiving each of us will put Him first and foremost--before we pick up our cell phones or get ensnared by the day's distractions.
Honoring God first positions us for His divine directions throughout the rest of our day.
May He keep us in perfect peace when our minds are focused on Him (Isaiah 26:3).
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!