We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Hedge of Thorns

Sometimes discerning God’s will is no easy task. There have been times when it has taken several years to discern whether to move on what appeared to be His leading. Sometimes God puts up roadblocks and detours to help us reach our final destination. I found that to be the case when I was trying to decide which seminary to attend. I was a young Christian and had my heart set on either Master’s Seminary with John MacArthur, Dallas Seminary with many reputable theologians, or Grace in Indiana, where Larry Crab taught. During this decision-making time, roadblocks and unexpected alternatives helped the process of elimination. That same week I received a letter from John MacArthur titled, “How to Discern God’s Will.” I smiled, thinking God was nudging me in this direction. The one decision I was certain about was where I would to Baptist Bible Theological Seminary. Having been spiritually nurtured in a Baptist church, I felt I needed a little more diversity in my training. So at least that was settled. After receiving the letter and listening to John MacArthur on discerning God’s will, plans began for our big move to CA. Certainly God was opening doors. My wife and I visited Grace church and one of the elders and his wife took us under their wing. It all looked like a go. Then I received a phone call. “Hello Mark, this is Dr. Richard Engle from Baptist Bible Seminary.” He began to explain why I should consider attending his seminary. His daughter had been a student teacher under my administration, which had given him the connection to call me. Dr. Engle is a very gentle and godly man one whom I admire. But I thanked him and told him that Baptist Bible Seminary was not a possibility. He asked if I would be willing to pray about it (I hate when they do that!). I said I would, and I did. Through a series of what I call “hedges,” God began to show me why moving to Dallas or CA just wasn’t responsible or reasonable with my young family, three preschool children and a wife who needed family support. Baptist Bible Seminary was only three and a half hours from home, so if we needed to see family they would not be far away. So, to Baptist Bible Seminary we came. As I look back I realize it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. What an incredible theological education I had, and what a great place to raise my family. There is a significant story that has been most helpful in discerning God’s will for my life, titled The Hedge of Thorns. This story has taught me that God might use a hedge of thorns to keep me on the right path. When I push to have my way, or as in the case of this story, push through the hedge of thorns, I can bring harm to myself or those I love. When I draw back and wait patiently, the hedge acts as my safety net of protection. It is when I allow the hedges to actually guide me, even if not in the direction I preferred, that I experience unexpected blessings. In the book of Hosea God teaches that he uses a hedge of thorns to keep a wayward wife from finding her desired path of lust and luxury. Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. Discerning the hedges in our lives will keep us from path of sin and the memories of regret. When we flee from the fleeting pleasures of sin, we will find the reward that lies on the other side of the hedge.

Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment