I sat opposite my, then, girlfriend in the restaurant. I wanted to make her more than my girlfriend. So I sought God's guidance in the way that seemed most obvious to me.
I fired up a silent prayer in the restaurant. "Father, if it's right that we marry, please put into her head the thought of our wedding day."
Instantly she smiles.
I ask, "Why are you smiling?"
She says, "Oh, nothing."
"Were you just thinking about our wedding day??"
"How did you know??!"
"Because I just prayed that if we should get married, you'd think about our wedding!!"
Now let me come clean. This woman was not Emma, who is my wife. Had I married the woman from the restaurant, lovely woman though she was and is, it would have been an unmitigated disaster. Nonetheless - I had sought guidance from on high. And it seemed pretty clear she was the one.
So what do we learn?
For one, we learn that much seeking of guidance is in fact seeking God's rubber stamp for our own desires. I was not looking for guidance, I was looking for a "Yes."
When we seek after signs we prove very adept at creating them. I don't know what exactly was going on in that restaurant, but I do know that Derren Brown can create far more impressive tricks. In a restaurant, in a serious relationship, after serious discussion, it doesn't take a genius to predict thoughts of a future wedding. And it doesn't take much to turn my wish into a prayer and then take it for a sign. If you're looking for one, you'll take anything as a sign.
We're not promised guidance through signs, we are promised it through the word of God and the people of God.
I was reminded of all this by reading Proverbs this morning:
Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
Later on I read this:
Proverbs 20:5 The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
I don't know myself very well. In fact I have deep desires hidden from my own sight. Yet they drive me in all the wrong directions. It's madness, but if these desires really get hold of me I want to avoid anyone with Wisdom.
I can maintain the facade of godliness, because - Hey, I'm still seeking God's guidance!
But I'm seeking it in signs and not where God has put His Wisdom. He's put Wisdom into His book and into His people. We must seek guidance there.
Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
Anyway, here's an old sermon on guidance...