In 1893, a teenager named William Shotton became an apprentice aboard the Trafalgar. Shotton wanted to see the world, and he relished the thought of sailing the high seas. His captain noticed he was a dependable young man, and Shotton was promoted to second mate.

But in Java, the crew contracted fever, resulting in the death of the ship’s captain. The Trafalgar sailed out of Java on October 29, 1893, under the command of the first mate, but several sailors died. When the first mate died soon after, William Shotton, 18, found himself in the role of captain. He, too, was ill, and his surviving crew was mutinous. Somehow, Shotton maintained control of the ship, telling his men, “We are bound for Melbourne, and to Melbourne I mean to take the ship.”

Shotton knew enough to steer the vessel toward its desired port, 1,500 miles away. And on December 16, someone spotted the entrance to Melbourne Harbor, where the ship docked safely the next day. To Shotton’s amazement, the crew cheered him heartily for guiding them safely over the treacherous seas. William Shotton eventually said, “I only did my duty.”1

Today we’re going through tumultuous seas. We’re living in a society that has rejected its Creator, bankrupted its values, coarsened its culture, and disparaged its churches. Our world has never needed leadership more, and we’ve seldom had less confidence in the global leaders occupying the world’s capitals.

            Psalm 146:3-5 says, “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord.”

Happy are those who have a divine Navigator for the voyage, a Good Shepherd for the trails, a guiding Light for the pathways, and a Leader who knows the way from here to eternity. When God navigates us, we can trust His guidance. Psalm 48:14 says, “For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”


Why God Guides Us

God guides us because He loves us and infuses our life with purpose. Indeed, He has a specific plan for each of His children. The Bible says, “In Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me” (Psalm 139:16). Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you . . . to give you a future and a hope.” He guides us so that His will for our life comes to pass.


How He Guides Us

            If God has a plan for our life and if each day is already recorded in His book, how do we determine what He wants us to do? How do we decide the best way to allocate our time and resources, making sure we’re following the Lord’s guidance completely?

Whenever we plan to make a decision, we need to spend time in His Word. We need to look at the circumstances, and think through each decision prayerfully. If we miss the way, the Lord knows how to get us back on track. We should also listen to the advice of Solomon: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).


Where He Guides Us

God guides us to those needing His message. Remember: We aren’t citizens of earth traveling to heaven; we are citizens of heaven traveling through earth. And if we’re going to follow the Lord we must go where He’s going—to the ends of the earth. He doesn’t lead us so we’ll have a good time, but so we’ll produce good fruit.

“To go as I am led, to go when I am led, to go where I am led . . . it is that which has been . . . the one prayer of my life,” said Dr. A. T. Pierson.2

We can’t always trust our leaders. But God is our Guide through life, death, and beyond; we’re bound for heaven. You can trust Him to lead you with an unfailing hand on the wheel.


David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and the founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information about Dr. Jeremiah or Turning Point, visit

1 Captain Frank Knight, Stories of Famous Sea Adventures (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1966), chapter 11.

2 Arthur T. Pierson, The Gospel, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), 8.