Summary: “How do we respond to God’s leading? How should we?

This afternoon is the baccalaureate service at the high school. I have been privileged to work with several members of the class of 2003 in helping them plan the service.

The other day, as we walked to the auditorium during one of the planning meetings, I engaged some of them in conversation about the events of the next few weeks. They admitted to being overwhelmed and nervous.

As I began to work on this sermon about responding to God’s leading, I thought about the major decision of my senior year of high school – college or work?

I really did not want to stay in Dayton. The automobile industry that was the mainstay of the Dayton economy was in shambles in the mid-1970’s. I saw many of my neighbors go through the cycle of work, layoff, work, layoff, work, layoff and said to myself, “I can’t do that. I can’t live that way.”

I also wanted to get away from home. I wanted to spread my wings. I was ready to move on. But, where?

And how?

I had taken the ACT; one of two main tests that students take for college admission, and on the basis of my scores had gained automatic entrance to a college in Kentucky. But, there was also a stack of college catalogs on my dresser and I would go through them and look and think and dream and pray.

Well one day an admissions representative from Greenville College came to my high school. I cannot remember now filling out a card for information to be sent to me but I do remember that visit. Now GC was unknown to me because one of my cousins attended and graduated there in the early 70’s.

Well, this admission representative knew my cousin, and his wife, and his wife’s sister. He had dated them both!

Well to my high school way of thinking this man was living dangerously dating sisters and in proximity to my cousin! (In two short years from that meeting, I would live dangerously too by dating sisters.)

But, it also impressed me that he had knowledge of these people. And that prompted me to apply to Greenville and go there sight unseen.

Now you might ask this morning, how did you know that going to Greenville was what God wanted? Good question!

I first purposed in my heart to do what God wanted me to do. I wanted to obey God. I wanted to live in a right relationship with Him.

Second I had to do my part in discerning God’s leading through investigating the various possibilities and praying about them. Then I had to make a decision based on what I believed God wanted me to do.

I believe that I followed the Lord’s leading in this matter and while there were moments of difficulty and uncertainty, I kept walking by faith and trust that God’s will would be done.

How do we follow God’s leading? How should we follow God’s leading?

The text read earlier in the service, Proverbs 3:5-6, contains two important ways of following God’s leaning:

•Trust in the Lord with all your heart

•Seek His will in all you do

Our heart denotes our values, passions, and beliefs that we dearly hold. When our hearts are broken, our trust is broken: when trust is strong, our hearts our strong. What we treasure and believe in our hearts influences the choices we make.

To trust in the Lord with all of our heart is to passionately believe that God is trustworthy and that we can follow His leading because it is good and trustworthy and right. This means that in our hearts we must purpose, if we are going to properly respond to God’s leading, to trust in the Lord.

Now having make the internal decision to trust the rightness of God’s leading, we move to the second step – seeking His will in all we do – the action step. Sometimes we freeze when we come to a place of decision. Our options are not clear. We do not immediately sense that God is leading us in a particular direction. What do we do then?

Several years ago, prominent members of San Francisco Society gathered at Saints Peter and Paul Church for a wedding.

At the appropriate moment the bride was asked, “Do you take this man for your lawfully wedded husband?” “I don’t know,” she murmured to the priest. “I just can’t make up my mind.” He waited a moment and then said to the audience, “The wedding is off.”

The reception was canceled and thousands of dollars of food was given away. However, a week later the bride asked for the wedding to proceed, “I was just nervous,” she said. “My mind is made up now. I do take the groom as my husband.”

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