Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned. When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings on it. He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and splashed the blood of his fellowship offerings against the altar. As for the bronze altar that stood before the Lord, he brought it from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the temple of the Lord—and put it on the north side of the new altar.
King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: “On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Splash against this altar the blood of all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.” And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered.
- 2 Kings 16:10-16
Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.
- 1 Chronicles 10:13-14
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
- John 14:15-21
Sometimes it is easy to see God’s guidance. Sometimes, we imagine that someone else is missing all the signs of such guidance, but then we do not walk in their shoes. And sometimes, we become blind to God’s guidance.
In the Scriptures, the first Scripture mentions that King Ahaz saw an altar built for false gods and had a duplicate built. He then used this abomination to seek guidance rather than seeking guidance from God. To put Ahaz in perspective, after King Jehoshaphat, a good king died, King Jehoram became king of Judah. Jehoram married Athaliah, daughter of evil Israel King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, who had been cursed for four generations, Ahab being that bad. Then when Jehoram died, Ahaziah became king briefly. Upon death, his mother Athaliah became Queen of Judah. She sought her grandchildren to kill them, so that there would be no rival to the throne, but the priests hid Joash. Joash then became a good king, becoming bad and ineffective in his old age. He was followed by Amaziah who had a similar track record, good then bad. Uzziah came next, a good king, followed by Jotham, another good king. Then we have the sad tale of Ahaz, next in line. Judah rebounded with Hezekiah being next, but on the whole, the kings of Judah had a propensity to follow other gods instead of the true God.
The curse of Saul is described in the second Scripture. Saul could have served God and gone to God for guidance, but Saul chose not to do so.
The third Scripture is about Jesus promising us that we will always have the Holy Spirit who will give us strength and provide us with guidance. And some of the most powerful guidance is in providing understanding as we read God’s Word.
Yet, what if we feel led to do something to help others and the door gets slammed in our face, repeatedly?
I know someone who has never failed at anything intellectually. One of the smartest people I know, maybe the smartest. When retired from teaching, instead of enjoying retirement, having retired early, she wanted to become a lawyer to serve the less fortunate in our society, especially the children who had no voice. She went to law school and passed with no problem, but then came the bar exam. After failing a few times in her state of residence, she went to the state next door and failed the bar there. Each time, there were the expenses for the exam preparation and the exam is extremely costly. She had to skip an exam period here or there to save money. On other occasions, she became ill, and she’s still dealing with the effects of those illnesses. Yet, even while holding down a good job that pays well, she is determined to take the exam again. She now states that she does not want to be defeated. She may never work as a lawyer. She has simply never “failed” and that bothers her.
I pray for her, but others might have seen the roadblocks, and they would say that God was leading them elsewhere. Between failing the exam (which many have done, many very successful lawyers) and getting so ill that ensuring life was more important than taking the exam, there were multiple “signs.” But none of us can walk in her shoes. If God is guiding her to do this, He will find a way. If this is a case of bull-headed determination, she may never succeed. In the meantime, she has a double hurdle to jump over, getting it done and putting up with the naysayers.
I am not among the naysayers. I will only pray. Sometimes, God’s plan is not in the destination, but we find God’s plan more often in the journey. We may think that it is a journey to the destination, but God shapes us along the way. He also shapes others who watch us along the way. Is faith in God growing? Ahhh. Now that is a true sign.
I may have not done well handling the frustrations along the way. I tried to hide it, but the close family knew all too well. As a result, I see people who keep beating their head against the wall, and I pray. Maybe, just maybe, the next head butt will knock that great wall down.
Stay in the Word. Read the Scriptures. But go to God in prayer and listen for God’s response. Make sure your “calling” is truly from Him, and then nothing should stop you. Hold you back for a while? Yes. But never stop you.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.