The cross-over into a new year is a good time to pause; a time to review the old and reach for the new, reflect on the past and dream for the future, celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness shown and welcome his goodness stored up for our onward journey. It will be a mixed journey: the familiar plus the unknown, the planned as well as the unexpected. Whatever it holds, and however maze-like it seems, God has a path that is best for us and he promises to steer us in it.
I enjoy asking the Lord for a personal ‘headline’ truth for the year. As activities, happenings and issues start appearing on the year’s page, the bold headline remains visible, like a time-release truth that keeps encouraging, strengthening and challenging. The headline truth for this year came from Psalm 32:8.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
I love the assurance that God has a path that is best for us. He paid the price to make our journey possible, and promises to stay involved, instructing and teaching us so we don’t get stuck, slip back or stray off course.
But that’s not actually the bit that became the headline for this year. It’s the next part of the verse: my loving eye on you.
The norm for living
In his final song, Moses recited how God found and cared for Israel in the desert as the apple of his eye1. It was a song of the Lord’s covenant of love to cherish and protect them. A beautiful song, but a shadow of the louder one Jesus would sing. His song is of the forever, infinite love the Father has for him2. It’s this dimension of new covenant love that we’ve been drawn into3, and it’s in this immeasurable frame that we hear him saying to us: my loving eye on you.
We know the Lord sees everyone, everywhere4 and watches over us all the time5. But the loving eye is about more than his awareness and protection. It’s about his close-up, caring, personal counsel in the details of our journey. When Christ’s coming was prophesied, one of his outstanding names was announced: Wonderful Counselor6. He would astonish his people with his involvement in their lives, speaking to steer them along the path that is best. This ‘wonder’ of being led by the Spirit of God has been given to us as the daily norm for living7.
It’s an amazing truth, too massive for our small understanding. He places ALL of himself – his fullness of wisdom, knowledge, power, compassion and more – into his promise to counsel us. He is sustaining mankind, maintaining galaxies, managing nations, restraining Darkness…..and yet, in all of his mega-works, he doesn’t take his eye off us for a micro-second.
In any circumstance, the Lord sees the best choice for us, the best response, the best outcome…and speaks to steer us. God has a path that is best for us and keeps piloting us in that destiny so that we can reflect his Glory and be the content, purposeful people he designed us to be.
Leaning into the Counselor
We aren’t always conscious of him saying something. Often we move or choose or decide without realizing that the desire or nudge to do so came from his inner voice. But the accuracy of that ‘unconscious leading’ is nurtured by constantly leaning into him as Counselor.
The second part of the verse can’t be disconnected from the first. Response to the Counselor grows in proportion to our appetite for his instruction and teaching. As his Word shapes our agreement with him, sensitivity to his voice deepens.
His loving eye is on us in all of living, but our PRAYER life is the nexus of this growing experience. When our praying is steered by the Counselor, we are more easily tuned to his voice in daily living. Our walk by the Spirit is shaped by our growing experience of praying by the Spirit8.
Some steps to encourage prayer steered by the Counselor:
- Prayer of Trust: Declare your ‘resting faith’ that the Lord has a path that is best for you and, as Wonderful Counselor whose eye is on you constantly, he will keep steering you.
- Prayer of Devotion: Consecrate to live with deeper love-attachment to his Word; to be intentional, more disciplined in absorbing the Lord’s instruction and teaching (I will instruct you and teach you….)
- Prayer of Desire: Hunger to grow as a pray-er who loves, and is sensitive to the voice of the Counselor…. especially in the noise of daily life.
- Pause: Before launching into prayer requests, pause to listen to the prayer Leader, ponder his Word, open space for the Counselor to steer the praying.
- Prayer direction:
- What is the prayer focus for that moment or session that will build agreement with him? (The crisis or pressing need might not be his initial focus.)
- What is the prayer type? ‘Asking’ shouldn’t be our default prayer mode. He might put the emphasis on admiration (celebration, thanks, praise, adoration), or confession of sin, hunger for him, lament, intercession, warfare….? And let him own the transitions – moving us from one prayer type into another.
1 Deut. 32:10 2 Mt. 3:17 3 Eph. 3:17-19 4 Prov. 15:3, 1 Chr. 16:9 5 Psm. 121:5-8 6 Is. 9:6 7 Rom. 8:14 8 Eph. 6:18
For last New Year’s blog post: Enjoy the REST of the year