The 'Seven Cs' of guidance - Pastor's Pen for 5th September 2021

We've been discussing guidance these last couple of weeks, or what we might call 'discerning the will of God'. Today we conclude the last couple of Cs, making up seven. Sometimes we ask God for a sign, but we are just delaying, because we already know the answer. In the picture above, there are signs pointing to at least seven things, warnings or guidance for the journey. Some are mundane, and others could be wonderful and unique experiences.

God is with us in the wonderful and the ordinary. We can rely on God's guidance each day using our common sense and observing the order of creation. God leads and guides us through various circumstances, and sometimes we even get a sense of convergence as things come together.

Today let us consider the role of both conscience and conviction. Ray Simpson summarizes this in a helpful way; 'Conscience tells us which things we should avoid because they are wrong. Conviction is that deep inner sense which calls us to say yes to something.' (Waymarks for the Journey, p. 468) I think that's a helpful contrast when we come to the no or the yes in decision making. To illustrate bluntly, you don't need a blinding revelation from God to advise you whether or not to steal someone's car in the street. Scripture provides sufficient guidance in the ten commandments.

A personal example; a frail, elderly person in the Hillsborough congregation asked me to be the executor of her will. She had no offspring or obvious beneficiaries. I felt immediately that this would be wrong and a conflict of interest, as her pastor, because she wanted to give some money to the church so I didn't feel like an impartial person, and Presbyterian ministers traditionally stay away from the money side of things. I advised her to consult her lawyer. Then the lawyer rang me and repeated the request, which I once again politely refused. It turned out the friend who was actually appointed executor upon her death benefited personally from the will, and the church probably got less, but my conscience was clear and my chosen conviction enabled my to sleep peacefully at night.

As apostle Paul once wrote; 'For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.' (1 Cor 13:12) God's guidance occurs in an uncertain and broken world, but sometimes things just 'click'.

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