I recently had to stop in the road because two little dogs had dashed into the street. One crossed the road, but the other got confused and was wandering. I prayed for the poor things, but then I realized what they’d been after and was floored.
A large dog was jogging beside a woman. He stayed right at her side, never seeming to even notice the little yapper that was chasing after him. He never broke stride, never looked away. He was doing EXACTLY what he’d been trained to do.
And he was carrying his own leash. Literally. He held it in his mouth as he jogged down the sidewalk beside a woman who obviously had total trust in him. And the two made me think.
In a sense, we’re all like that dog. God calls us to run along beside Him, but though He gives us a guide (the Word and the Spirit) that He could use as a leash to control us, He ultimately leaves the decisions up to us. What do we do? What do I do? Do I actively choose to walk faithfully beside Him, not turning to the right or left?
We all face mountains. The question is, how do we face them? One man starts up the mountain without worrying about its height or terrain, trusting God to lead him every step of the way. Eventually, he pauses to glance around and sees he’s made it halfway up without even realizing it.
Another man stands on the dark side of the mountain, with no light to reveal its features or face. It is fearsome and he shivers at its base in terror, not daring to put one foot in front of the other. Yet if he waits for the sun the truth of the mountain will be revealed and his path become clear.
It is not the mountain itself that matters, but how we face it. If we trust in God with all our hearts and refuse to rely on our own, faulty logic, if we turn to Him for direction at every step, He will show us the right path to take.
For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace…
Here, in five words, is a principal I was taught years ago – follow peace.
It is the rule I adhere to when making any important decision. Yes, I follow forms of reason and logic as well, but peace has the final say because I have learned that God speaks through peace – and the devil cannot.
Recognize this – for it is foundational. Over and over Jesus, the Prince of Peace, promises us His peace. We are assured that while our minds are stayed on Him we will be in perfect peace (I’ve experienced this while touring the inside of the fiery furnace!). On the other hand, confusion and doubt, worry and fear – these come only from Satan.
So, in the end, finding the path is a fairly simple thing. When faced with a decision, needing to choose between two things and failing to recognize the obviously right option, I choose both – one at a time.
My doctor told me I was pregnant and immediately informed me that he didn’t deliver babies anymore. I was instantly thrown into turmoil, not knowing who to go to, who I should trust with the delivery of my child. I began researching my options, which I had recently learned included midwifery, and writing out the pros and cons of each. Even so, I was still unable to make a decision. Then I remembered what I had been taught – “Be led by peace” – and decided to decide, and in deciding to see where peace might be found.
I decided to go with a doctor. Almost before the decision was fully made, my insides were churning. To say there was no peace would be to make a gross understatement.
So I decided again – this time to make an appointment with the midwife I’d been hearing about. Peace flooded my soul in that very moment.
I will not say the decision is always as clear. Sometimes both options bring peace. Since God authors peace and the devil cannot, I take this as a sign that both options are equally acceptable to God and the choice really is my own. Sometimes neither option brings peace. When this occurs, I start looking around for a third option, one I’d either not considered or had cast aside earlier. If there truly is no third option I look to myself, seeking out anything in me that might be blocking the peace God sends my way.
What I find could be fear, unforgiveness…any number of things, but put simply it is sin. Once I’ve dealt with the sin and go back to the options, sincerely choosing each in turn, one will almost always inspire peace, making itself clear as God’s choice.
I’m an organizer – a list person. I love researching my options and listing the pros and cons of them all, organizing my thoughts to the tiniest detail, but when the rubber meets the road and the decision must be made I would much rather let He Who Knows All make it for me, and then lead me forth in peace.
Visit my Pintrest board and you’ll find a collection of pathways. I don’t even know how many I’ve pinned. I know only that I could easily pin hundreds more if I had time to sit and peruse the options.
Paths have always fascinated me. I look at a picture of a pathway that wanders off into the distance and the fairy tale loving part of me wonders, “What’s beyond that curve? What would I reach if I could follow it to the end?” I have this absurd sense that I, like Alice, could step through the frame and see.
It’s not just any paths I love, though. I appreciate well-manicured paths and paths that have been laid with stones or even railroad ties, but the ones I love best are truly natural paths, paths that speak of hundreds of footsteps (or hoof steps!) wearing down the grass over a period of time, paths that indicate something worth pursing, something that inexorably draws one forward to…
To the future, in a sense. To the unknown country that lies before us. I’ve never been one to settle for the here and now alone. No…I dream of what’s to come. I always have. Not that I let those dreams interfere with today, of course – usually – but rather that they drive me today in hopes of being ready to experience the best of tomorrow…and next week…and…
So, now that I think about it, I AM on one of those paths, and the photos I so delightedly collect also represent the various faces of the path I’m on. Interesting, how your thoughts can ramble in unexpected directions and you can see one thing in yourself while speaking of others.
What was it Bilbo said? “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
May your eyes be opened to your path, and may you be swept off your feet today.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6
Trust seems so simple – until God asks us to take a step we don’t understand. We naturally want to see the path ahead, but God doesn’t want us to walk naturally; he wants us to walk supernaturally.
One day, when I was grumbling about not being able to see the path ahead, God taught me a shin-banging lesson. He told me to close my eyes and walk from where I was to a specific spot. I tried, and of course I swerved off course and bumped into something. Then He took me back to the beginning, had me close my eyes again, and told me exactly how to place my foot with each step. It was awkward. It felt all wrong. I was hoping no one would walk in because I knew I looked stupid. But…thanks to His detailed directions, I ended up exactly where He told me to go.
God did exactly the same thing for Gideon in Judges six and seven. From the point at which He had Gideon’s attention and willing obedience, God gave him specific instructions for each step he would take. In Judg 6:25-26, God didn’t merely say, “Sacrifice a bull.” Instead, He told Gideon exactly which bull, precisely how to pull down his father’s altar, and in detail how to sacrifice the bull.
This was only the beginning, of course. God continued to give Gideon detailed directions. Had Gideon chosen to bypass any of them, or fudge on even one, the outcome would not have been the same. Israel may not have received her deliverance.
Nothing great in our Christian walk, outside of a supernatural move of God, comes of itself. It comes as a result of the individual starting out on the right path and taking each and every step along the way exactly as God commands.