“I’d turn back if I were you.”
There are times in life when the path ahead is shrouded in darkness. Even the next baby step seems covered in grey mist. Or, we may be able to see the next step or next few steps on the path ahead but it offers little comfort when it appears that the path we’re on is leading us deep into the woods; a place that is even less certain than the dark place we are in right now.
Do you remember the scene in the movie, “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy and her companions “follow the yellow brick road” as it leads them into the Haunted Woods? They know they are on the right path that will eventually get them where they need to go, but as they step into the creepy forest, they see a sign that says, “I’d turn back if I were you!!!” Isn’t that exactly what we’d like to do when it looks as if the path God has us on is leading us into the dark unknown? As tempting as it is to heed the advice of that sign warning us to turn around and hide, God’s voice says something completely opposite.
“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 NIV
Our challenge is to continue to listen for God’s voice in the midst of the uncertainty. This is challenging on so many levels.
We have to silence the clamor of all the other voices that in essence are telling us to “turn back” or “go this way”. Listening to these voices has a devastating effect; we become immobilized, unable to move forward or we start down a path that leads us away from God’s best. Instead, we have to be “tuned in” to hear God’s voice above the noise of our past, our fears, the doubting voices of others, and the deafening shrieks of the enemy.
We also have to put ourselves in a position to be able to recognize when God is speaking and where He is leading. There are no “shortcuts” in listening to God’s voice; it takes time and persistence. This is so contrary to what we’ve been taught living in the world. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” No, we have to make time. Being able to discern where God is guiding requires that we carve out real time to spend in the Word and in prayer. The bible is the road map, showing where different paths lead and prayer (listening to God’s voice give direction) is the GPS. God is faithful to speak, but it’s according His time table. Our job is to be persistent; to quiet our hearts and go back to the Word and prayer, repeatedly. This takes real discipline and patience, but is never a waste of time. We may feel unproductive, but this is the work of the journey. Sometimes He is asking us to work through a struggle deep in our heart or He may be weaning us away from the need for approval from others. Any time we spend in prayer or in the Word is preparing and equipping us to take the next step.
We also have to make the choice to walk in obedience. God tells us walk by faith not by sight.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV
It takes a sheer act of our will to obey and take that next step, even though we are CLUELESS! Sometimes that means just doing the “next right thing”. It may be that the next right thing is making a phone call, going to work, or just getting up in the morning and getting down on our knees to pray. We can’t know the whole plan but God is always faithful to show us just the next step, even if it’s a baby step. Wow! You talk about blowing the minds of control freaks! This can actually be physically painful but oh so necessary if we are to walk in obedience. We walk in step with God. He is faithful and we step out in faith. We can’t do everything but we can do the “next right thing.”
As we continue down the path, though it’s one tiny step, we can trust God even if it looks like He’s leading us into the unknown. God has already gone before us and has given us fellow trail trekkers as traveling companions and has given us songs to sing along the way. This community of worshippers remind us that we’re not alone and make the journey so much easier. Once you’ve been down the path of the great unknown you can be an encouragement to a hiker that is at the begininng of the trail head.
The unchanging, all-loving, all-knowing nature of God allows me to walk the path that He reveals step by step, in complete confidence, not because I see where the path is leading, but because I trust the Trail Blazer. Whether the path may turn to the right or to the left or appear that it is leading me deeper into the woods, I will listen for the voice of my Heavenly Father and keeping walking!
“He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as He has promised.” Psalm 23:3 GNT
- What can you do to silence the distracting voices so you can hear God’s voice?
- What “next step” is God asking you take today?
- How are you practicing obedience in the baby steps so you will be ready to take a leap of faith?