“Nathanael asked Jesus, ‘Where did you come to know me?’
Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree …’”
In the Gospel, Nathaniel is looking for guidance.
It’s likely that Nathaniel was reading the Scriptures and praying when Jesus called him ‘a true son of Israel’. Now Israel’s other name was Jacob and when Jacob prayed for guidance, he had a dream of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels taking prayers up and bringing guidance down. Jacob said, ‘This is the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ The place where he prayed for guidance was where he met God.
So Nathaniel sought guidance under the fig-tree. Then he met God, in the person of Jesus. So Jesus said to him, ‘You’ll see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’ Jesus is Nathaniel’s ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.
Wherever you pray for guidance, you’ll find it in the person of Jesus.
Here are half a dozen ways in which we might receive guidance. The first 3 are an Anglican standard for our faith – often referred to as The Three Legged Stool: Scripture, tradition and Reason.
· First SCRIPTURE. Look in the Bible. Look for appropriate helpful passages where the Bible is relevant to what’s worrying you. Ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do if he were in my shoes?’ The Bible still sheds light on how we should act.
· Second TRADITION. Read other things that have been written on the subject, or seek advice for ‘experts’ for help and interpretation …
· Third REASON. Use your own brain – think. Make a list of points for and against the various courses of action and different options you might choose. God seldom guides us to do anything unreasonable.
And here are a further 3 considerations
· Fourth seek ADVICE. From family, friends, a priest. You don’t have to take it, but talking it over may help you form aa clearer decision for your action.
· Fifth CONSCIENCE. Individual conscience isn’t an infallible guide. Sometimes we can delude ourselves that our conscience is telling us to do something when it is only wishful thinking. But, if you have a gut feeling that you’ll feel guilty if you took one of the options, you probably ought not to do it.
· Sixth, turn to PRAYER. It won’t work until you’ve sought guidance from the other five points first. But then, God speaks to us in different ways.
Whatever we do, God can bring good out of it.