One of the greatest realities of God’s presence is the way it guides us. Exodus 13:21-22 provides an illustration for an important truth God would have us know today: when we need guidance we can run to his presence and discover his leadership in abundance. Scripture tells us, “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”
Even in the Israelites’ sin, God faithfully led them. Even in their lack of faith, he still provided miraculous leadership. And now, through believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been filled with the presence of God himself. We’ve been given the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit who is always present with us and in us. As amazing as it is that God led his people with pillars of cloud and fire, how much more incredible is it that we have been filled with the very presence of God by the work of Christ? Jesus made a way for us to know the will of God with every moment as we fellowship with the Spirit of God himself.
So, how can we follow the Spirit as the Israelites followed the pillars of fire and cloud? How can we discover the abundance of leadership available to us through the presence of God? First, we must acknowledge our need of his leadership and seek out his counsel. He can only guide those who choose to follow. If you choose to go your own way in life you will step outside the guidance of his presence. It’s in seeking his will that we discover the vast reservoir of the Spirit’s perfect leadership. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Acknowledge him. Acknowledge the reality of his presence in your life in all your ways. Trust in his guidance rather than your own understanding, and watch as he makes straight all of your paths.
Second, you have to believe that God can and will guide you when you ask for his leadership. Isaiah 58:11 says, “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” This world is suffering from a lack of God’s guidance. We live in a world continuously searching, striving, and yearning for some sort of message of leadership. All around us the blind lead the blind into greater depths of darkness, continually searching for what we have already found in God. God longs to satisfy your desire for leadership. He longs to make you “like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” All you have to do is ask him. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” God will guide you when you seek him for wisdom. He will lead you to the perfect will he has for you if you humble yourself before him and commit to following him. All you have to do is ask and follow the Spirit’s guidance in however he chooses to lead you. He will make his leadership clear if you stay behind him and listen.
Last, you must follow his leadership to experience the fruit of his guiding presence. The prize of a winning lottery ticket remains worthless until it is cashed in. The contents of a gift remain useless until it is opened. You have been given the most incredible gift of all: God’s guiding presence in your life. Proverbs 3:13-18 says,
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.
But until you choose to follow the wisdom of God in your life, you won’t experience an ounce of its value. Until you follow the wise guidance of the Holy Spirit, you won’t experience the incredible, abundant life he has in store for you. James 1:22-25 commands us,
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Persevere today in God’s presence. Seek out his wisdom and counsel during guided prayer. Lay the burden of leading your own life on his mighty and loving shoulders, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into the abundant life he has prepared for you.