In the Puritan Paperback, The Mystery of Providence, by John Flavel, Michael Boland gives the publishers introduction. Commenting on Flavel’s remarkable influence, he writes of Luke Short, a man deeply impacted by Flavel—some eight decades after Short heard Flavel!
Here’s what Boland writes:
Luke Short was a farmer in New England who attained his hundredth year in exceptional vigor though without having sought peace with God. One day as he sat in his fields reflecting upon his long life, he recalled a sermon he had heard in Dartmouth as a boy before he sailed to America. The horror of dying under the curse of God was impressed upon him as he meditated on the words he had heard so long ago and he was converted to Christ—eighty-five years after hearing John Flavel preach. (John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 11) Continue reading
Decision-making is an incumbent challenge for all Christians. And too many make too much of the process–putting out a fleece, praying for a sign, and asking God for a personal revelation. Unbiblical superstition is the result of this (pagan) activity, and a result Christian’s depend less on God’s Word and take less responsibility for their own decisions. Hyper-spirituality and experiential Christianity devoid of biblical moorings is rampant today.
Yet, the way God leads his people continues to be the same as it always has been. He leads through instruction, teaching, and the testimonies of his law and covenant (Psa 25). Thus, as we pray for God to “lead, guide, and direct us,” we should open our eyes and peruse the words of Scripture in their biblical context. For God has given us his Scriptures to be our guide.
In this vein, John Flavel, a Puritan, supplies five considerations for seeking God’s guidance. They are very simple and Scripture-based and worth your consideration.
- Get the true fear of God upon your hearts; be really afraid of offending Him.
- Study the Word more, and the concerns and interests of the world less.
- Reduce what you know into practice, and you shall know what is your duty to practice.
- Pray for illumination and direction in the way that you should go.
- And this being done, follow Providence as far as it agrees with the Word, and no farther.
Two resources for biblical decision-making are the short and pithy Just Do Something
by Kevin DeYoung–a book that I am still waiting to get back from someone who cannot decide what to do with it :-)
If fear, procrastination, or uncertainty commonly mark your decisions, you should just go get one of these books and read it. It will free you from much unnecessary mental anguish.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss
John Flavel quoted in I.D.E. Thomas, A Golden Puritan Treasury, 132.