"Brethren, I have written a letter unto you" (Hebrews 13:22).

July 19, 2021

Red Light, Green Light

 Dear Friend,

      Bear with me, please, while I use a shallow metaphor to convey a deep truth. Following the guidance of God's Spirit is often as simple as following traffic signals.

     For instance, when considering a course of action, we typically pray for the Lord's perfect mind in the matter. And, if we're sincere, He always answers - but not always in the same way.

     Sometimes He brings Scripture to convey His guidance. Sometimes His "still, small voice" speaks clearly within, showing us the way, and confirming it with sustained, deep peace. Sometimes He's silent, but His hand moves distinctly in our circumstances - doors open or close, favor comes or goes - to plainly direct our steps. And sometimes He speaks through pastors or elders, or other spiritually minded brothers or sisters, to bring us His true counsel. But, until His will is clear, we wait. God's traffic light is red.

     As long as it stays red, we hold in place, draw near God daily, and go forward with our present duties, giving thanks and trusting His direction will come. Now, let's be very honest. Red lights, whether earthly or heavenly, often test our patience. Some Christians wait until they feel the first twinges of impatience, then speed off on their own way. God had His fair chance to direct their steps, they tell themselves, and He missed it, so they feel fully justified in going their own way. And if God sends angels or friends to block their path, they honk their horn, shout "Away, Satan!" and, with the pedal to the metal, rush on. Life is short, and they have no time to waste!

     But running red lights is dangerous business, leading to collisions, injuries, even death. Similarly, defying divine guidance always ends badly, sooner or later, for us and others. It's always wiser, and better for all concerned, if we wait patiently, and occupy, until God's traffic light changes.

     While waiting, remember that others can't fully read your spiritual traffic signals for you. Every driver must make his own traffic choices and every Christian his own guidance decisions. But remember one thing: never play "Ahab"! (See 2 Chronicles 18:1-34.) What do I mean?

     Israel's King Ahab made up his mind first as to what he wished to do, and then, with self will secretly in command, checked God's traffic signals. How? He asked the prophets on his payroll to get a "word" from the Lord about his proposed action, in this context, going up in battle to take the city of Ramoth-gilead. To keep their jobs, and meals, and heads, Ahab's false prophets - all 400 of them! - predictably appeased the king. "Go up, for God will deliver it into the king's hand" (v. 5), they all shouted in seemingly inspired agreement.

     But one prophet, a true man of God, disagreed: Micaiah! Of him, Ahab said, "I hate him, for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil" (v. 7). Now, to Ahab, "good" meant something that pleased him and "evil" something that displeased him. He never bothered with seeking God's will. It meant nothing to him. It was completely off his heart's radar screen. What was Micaiah's word from the Lord?

     Succinctly, he gave the king a big, wide, clear, bright, red light! Micaiah informed Ahab that God did not want him to take Ramoth-gilead, but, amazingly, had permitted a lying spirit to speak through all 400 of his paid prophets. He added, if Ahab obeyed their false counsel, and disobeyed God's true Word through Micaiah, he would die in battle. Wow! This red light was a dead light!

     So, after glaring angrily at God's red light, and the prophet who dared to speak it, Ahab went straight ahead with his own plans in defiant pride - until his chest and a Syrian arrow collided! That was the end of Ahab's traffic signal training. By getting his way, he lost his way, and his life. May Ahab's folly make us wise.

     When God "red lights" us, we sometimes feel our inner Ahab (old, carnal nature) getting impatient to move! Left, right, forward, backward, diagonally, anywhere - just move! Then, our religious instincts cleverly and oh-so-subtly suggest we ask others what we should do. So, we query pastors, elders, counselors, spouses, and prophets what they think God wants us to do. But it's all a sham, because in our heart of hearts, we know God has already shown us what He wants: red lights mean "STOP!" "NO!" Or, "NOT NOW!"

     If we press ahead with our own plans anyway, as Ahab did, only trouble, grief, and loss will follow when our will inevitably collides with God's corrective chastening somewhere down the line - tomorrow, next month, a year from now. (See Acts 27:9-20, 21.)

     But that can't happen to me, or you, right? Well, we better think again. It happened to King David, not once but twice.

     First, while King Saul remained alive, God gave David a red light. He wasn't ready for David to be Israel's king yet, because David's training wasn't finished. Nor did He want David to move elsewhere. He wanted him to stay in Israel, be chased about by Saul and his men, learn to depend on God for everything - his life, strength, wisdom, guidance, and provisions - and even suffer rejection from people David and his men had helped, all to finish humbling David and make him spiritually mature. It was a hard place, but the right place.

     But as time passed, Saul's persecution got to David and, though he knew God had "red lighted" him, he moved anyway, to the Philistine city of Ziklag, and lived among his enemies. For a while, it seemed David had circumvented divine correction. Life in Ziklag was good, at least on the surface. But all the while, God had sent "leanness" (spiritual dryness, deadness) on David's soul (see Psalm 106:13-15). Finally, the inevitable "collision" came, when after sixteen months God permitted Amalekites to utterly destroy Ziklag and take David's and his men's families captive. This was a hard experience, but the right medicine. And David learned his lesson.

     Second, seven years later, David seems to have forgotten the lesson God seared into his soul at Ziklag. David wished to bring the ark to Jerusalem, but chose to transport it on a Philistine cart (see 2 Samuel 6:1-11). God's traffic signal immediately flashed red deep down in David's conscience. The law warned only the priests were to carry the ark, not a cart. But David did not heed His red light. Full of self-led religious zeal, he sped off through this life intersection, oblivious to the present danger - until the ark shook, Uzzah touched it, and Uzzah was immediately killed in a miracle of divine judgment. Again, God's red light proved to be a dead light.

     This shouldn't surprise us. We already know very well that when people are in a hurry to get where they want to go, they sometimes run red lights. And we already know serious consequences often follow. And we already know, they consequently arrive at their desired destination late. Or never.

     Once God "green lights" us, we may confidently move forward with our anticipated course of action, knowing He is with us, because we are with Him. We enjoy full, deep peace because we know, in His will, no problems can arise that we can't handle with His help through prayer and faith. At rest, we dread no collisions - no flying arrows, no Ziklags, no ark incidents. Life in submission to God's traffic signals is sure, safe, sweet, even when passing through seasons of hard testing divinely permitted to mature us spiritually.

     Are you at an intersection today? Pondering your next course of action? Praying whether you should turn right, turn left, go forward, go backward? Or, just stay close to Jesus and patiently discharge your present duties until He changes the light? Remember Ahab's folly and David's failures, and obey God's traffic signals!

Obeying His signals,

Greg Hinnant
Greg Hinnant Ministries

       Greg Hinnant Ministries
PO Box 788, High Point, NC 27261