God’s special and personal guidance is rarely obvious looking ahead. For those who trust Him, it’s encouraging when we look back.
I had my first visit to Cannon Beach, Oregon 28 years ago this fall. Since then, I’ve taught seven different courses at Ecola Bible School, numerous conferences at Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center, sat around the dining room talking with students, pastors and everyday believers about their life, and most of all, made some of the most significant Christian friendships of my life.
As our nation celebrated Thanksgiving last weekend, I hope you’ll spend a few minutes the Monday after thinking about how much God loves you and how His grace fits into your life through His guidance. We Christians waste a lot of time trying to figure out what comes next, how to navigate our lives so that we don’t miss anything, and generally asking God to give us the most perfect life possible. Even worse, I could tell you horror stories of derailed lives due to weird theories about how to find God’s will.
This may sound strange coming from a Bible teacher and author who teaches a conference series, a college course, and even wrote an allegory concerning discovering God’s will (The Trail). But wait, the very first principle I teach has to do with grace and trust:
God doesn’t need your strength to guide you, but you do need to trust His strength to receive His guidance, drawn from Proverbs 3:5-6. ⇦Tweet that!
Now, back to this place I’m writing you from, Cannon Beach, Oregon. It all started when an international ministry I was working for asked me to come to Cannon Beach to teach an 8-hour seminar over a week at a community called Ecola Bible School.
Oh, how I resisted. “It’s too far away. I’ve been to the north coast of Oregon before to teach this seminar and it was a bust. Nobody lives there! And besides, how do I take a week out of my busy pastor schedule to do this? I signed up for Friday-Saturday seminars. There’s no way!”
Let me just say that the president of this ministry is one of the godliest men I’ve known with some pretty spectacular persuasion skills. Grudgingly, I made the trip grousing the entire way. When I hit the snow coming over the coastal range from Portland I distinctly remember saying, “God, what in the world are you doing? This is a wreck. What a waste of time and energy. You know how much I hate the cold!”
Now, look up again at the picture introducing this blog. That’s the prayer bench Judy and I walk to during our weeks here. We sit there together praying for the people in our lives and asking God for things big and little. The walk from our Ecola cabin or our Conference Center room to Haystack Rock is about a mile. It’s on that beautiful walk that we’ve processed the most difficult challenges and transitions of our lives with our heavenly Father.
It’s an entirely different God’s-will experience, one that transforms what you expect from God radically and with more hope. The looking back experience, rehearsing the way His grace has brought you to places you never would have gone if you had not trusted His love.
Talk about Thanksgiving!
When you’re trusting His grace, it might not feel like a God-guiding moment. But it is. Step by step, from grace to grace, from faith to faith. A grace-guidance moment that is always happening right now.
Judy and I can’t picture our life without this place, Cannon Beach. Come to think of it, we can’t picture our life apart from His grace.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).