You have it all figured out, God puts a fork in the road. One side is open, maybe not the most inviting looking, maybe beautiful. The way is open and clear to step on. The other side may have all the makings of an exciting adventure. you have been thinking about this side of the fork for a long time. Or maybe you just discovered it. You really want to travel this path. See where it leads. Enjoy the journey.
But the way is blocked.
You stand there and stare awhile. You know you should take the open path even if it doesn't look anything like what you had planned to journey down.
But you really want to take that other path. Just figure out a way around, over or through that thing that is keeping that path closed.
So you think about it some. Then some more. You plan how you will get to that path. You look at the open path but it just doesn't seem as interesting.
So you plan some more. Push around the edges of the obstacle blocking the way. Poke at it, maybe even start to climb over it.
But something cuts your hand.
You try again. Scraping your leg, you fall back down.
It is really hard to find your way, even though you thought you had it worked out in your head.
You try to get around the side but something trips you. You land on your hands and knees in the dirt. You back away and look at the damage to yourself.
You are bloody, bruised, dirty and frustrated.
That's when you look at the other path again.
No, it's not necessarily the path you want to take, but it is clearly the way you are meant to go. But you stand there still. Looking back and forth between the two. Wanting one, knowing the other is the one meant for you.
And you are going nowhere.
And you stand there, wanting the one that is hurting you, that is getting you no where, that is causing you to become stuck in the place you are instead of striding out along the path that is meant for you to journey down.
Why do we do it? Why do we keep fighting for what is not for us to have? Why do we keep trying to make a way where there will never be one? And worse, if we stand there long enough, we may just decide if we can't journey down the path we choose, then we just won't journey at all.
Anyone feeling me on this one?
It's easy to trust God when we are getting our way. It's even easy to trust him in the middle of the journey where we can see him all around, when there isn't really any choice at all.
But when it comes to giving up what we want, what we feel we deserve, what we have decided is best for us, why do we dig in our heels, refuse to obey the directions he gives, and fight to make our own choices?
That always ends with us being bloody, bruised, dirty and frustrated.
And if we are bloody, bruised, dirty and frustrated long enough, we become infected, bitter, angry and unhealed. And he will allow it. Because it will teach us, grow us, and deepen us. If we will only eventually figure it out and trust God, not our self.
Many times I have heard (and even said) that faith is believing that God will never put us in a situation that we are unprepared for. But I have come to realize that isn't true. God will put us in situations where we have to take that step purely on blind faith in Him before he will put the right tool or direction in our hand. It's not about him preparing us first, it's about trusting him to equip us as we go.
So yes, by all means, keep trying to take that path you want, even though it is closed to you. But know that there will not be equipping on the other side of that road block once you figure out a way around it. There will be no tender mercy, no healing and no clear path. And when you figure all that out and turn around, you will have a long journey back.
But God will be waiting.
At the fork in the road where you left Him. Ready to clean you up, bandage your hurts, heal your pains and give you a loving push onto the path He chose for you. And no, He may not seem close, or even as if He is there at all on some parts of that journey. Your path may get dark, go deep into a valley, or be filled with twists and turns and potholes and debris, but just keep walking.
As you need direction, He will be there.
As you need light, He will be there.
As you need picking up when you stumble, He will be there.
As you feel lost and alone, He will be there.
And as you finally take the last step and the journey ends (or changes again), He will be there.
"He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.4
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;"
Psalm 23:3-4 (NIV)