Last month I was visiting friends at their property in the country. I’d been several times before, so I’d developed a sense of the layout. I’d been on several walks, but never on my own. My friends were working on a project where I was of no particular use, so I decided a walk through the woods would be nice before I set out on my way back to Houston.
There were numerous managed (i.e. mowed) trails to choose from – I chose the one I thought would take the longest – off I went with Buddy (their dog) leading the way!
In no time at all, we came to the end of the mowed path…the path ahead was still there…it just wasn’t clearly marked. Buddy appeared confident in the direction we were headed and so I followed.
It’s no secret women have a tendency to identify their course with landmarks…since the territory felt different, my eyes constantly searched for familiar signs. As I surveyed the area, it became clear we were on another path…a path that would not lead home. As I turned around, it seemed as though the original mowed path vanished! Logistically, I had an idea where I was on the property, but I couldn’t tell how far I’d veered off course…as I started in another direction, I counted my steps in case I needed to backtrack. Scanning my surroundings, I finally spotted a fence marker – I was WAY off course! I knew where I was, but still had NO IDEA how to get back on track.
Praise God for cell phones and good reception! A few minutes on the phone and my friend located me – as it turns out I was maybe 50 yards off the original path – it might as well have been 50 miles! You see, I felt lost…I had the overwhelming sensation and realization I’d drifted off course and wasn’t prepared – I didn’t possess the skills to redirect effectively.
My/Our walk with God is very much the same. If we are following anything/anyone other than Christ, it is sooooooooooo easy to turn around and find ourselves off course…what may have appeared to be a continuation of the path before us can easily lead us astray. Whether it’s a person, a group, or an idea in pursuit of something, it is incredibly easy to lose our way…I’ve circled that mountain countless times!
And the thing is, until we realize we’re lost, and actively seek Him to guide us back on course, we can spend tremendous amounts of time trying to find the right path on our own. When I called my friend, she could have said, “find your own way” but no, I called and she came to me and showed me the way.
As I was researching scripture, I stumbled across an article entitled, DIVINE DIRECTION by Jemima Rayan. In the article, Ms Rayan discusses how our steps are ordered and draws the following analogy to Psalm 37:23
“The word that is mentioned in the Bible is ‘ordered’ just like the way you order your food in a restaurant. You order as much as you can eat. In the same way, God orders our steps and steps that we are able to take.”
An interesting (and new) analogy to me, but it makes so much sense! Often my eagerness (translation: lack of patience) gets the best of me – I want to see the picture before I move…and yes, that translates to not trusting God to unfold the picture as I’m ready to receive it. If I shift my way of thinking…from wanting the entire buffet on one plate…to one course at a time…I move forward still being full, but not overly stuffed…allowing time for my food – God’s Word –to digest effectively.
The article goes on to discuss how to know God’s direction and offers this insight:
1. Through prayer we should take God at His Word
“Show me your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths” (Ps 25:4)
“Direct my steps by Your Word” (Ps 119:136)
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye” (Ps 32:8)
2. Through His Word we can expect progressive revelation
“God’s word is the lamp unto your feet and a light to your path” (Ps 119:105)
3. Through active listening we can fine tune our spiritual ears to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ “ (Isaiah 30:21)
Once we call out and earnestly seek God’s guidance, we discover He’s been RIGHT there all along to lead us home. The path may not be clear to us, but He will direct our steps. And although it may seem unfortunate at the time to find ourselves lost in the woods, God utilizes each detour in an unexpected way to draw us closer to a new Beth-el in our journey with Him.