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The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8)

On a cold, rainy morning of February 11, 1861, one day before his 52nd birthday, President-elect Abraham Lincoln boarded a two-car private train loaded with his family’s belongings for Washington, D.C.  Leaving his home in Springfield, Illinois, he knew that his actions upon entering office would likely lead to civil war. Speaking to a crowd before departing, he said: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young man to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being… I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail… To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.” Lincoln understood who would direct his path. He would indeed return to Springfield just over four years later on a funeral train following his assassination.

Nick Foles, MVP for the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2018, wasn’t supposed to be seeing much playing time as the backup quarterback. In fact, two years before – he contemplated retiring and walking away from the game. Foles credits prayer with giving him the strength to stay in the NFL. “It took a lot more faith to come back and play than it would’ve to go in the other direction,” he said. “Either way would’ve been fine. Either way, I would’ve trusted in God. I would’ve done something else and glorified God in that instance.” Foles decided to return to football and became the back-up for the Eagles, a team he used to start for. However, after the team’s new starter, Carson Wentz, suffered a season-ending knee injury. Foles took over leading the team to their first-ever Super Bowl championship. When Wentz, also a devout Christian, was asked about his replacement, he said – “It’s crazy how it has all unfolded, but God has had a plan for him through this whole thing, and he knows that.” When he leaves football the next time, his goal is to become a pastor ministering to high school youth.

What do these two men have in common?  They both believed they were on a journey in which God was leading them. Not everyone listens for God’s direction, but God’s plan is still there. Following the death of Elisha in the Old Testament, God chose the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of a neighboring nation and enemy to Israel. Jonah feared what would happen if he went into that wicked city, so he tried to run from God by boarding a ship which was going in the opposite direction. Jonah’s ill-advised attempt to escape from God was doomed to fail. “But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart” (Jonah 1:4). Eventually, his shipmates threw him overboard where “the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). He soon realized God was with him everywhere he went. Even in the stomach of the great fish, God could hear Jonah’s prayer (Jonah 2:2). After rescuing him, God again directed Jonah to go to Nineveh. This time – he did.

Although some classify the story of Jonah as a fable – interestingly enough, Jesus referred to him when He spoke to the scribes and Pharisees who had asked Him for a sign. His response: “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). The plan for Jesus was clear, just as it was for President Lincoln and quarterback Foles. To follow their example, all you have to do is just “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6). You can be sure that God has a plan for each life.  We simply have to pray for direction and listen for His voice. Whether it is revealed through His Word, in the course of events, or through our interaction with others – we will know when He is prompting us. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). When we come to realize that we are here for a bigger purpose than just us, we are well on our way to hearing His voice and following His lead.

REFLECTION: Have you ever found yourself running away from God and His call for your life? What are some things you might implement in order to be more intentional about listening for His voice?


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