We find ourselves at the evaluation stage, halfway between what was and what is to come. Life, of course, is this very issue. We are born, in between we live, then we die. We live at the junction between life and death. At this midway-point, we make our decisions day to day, year to year. Our lives have been shaped by our past; are continuously moulded in the present for what we will become in our future.The process of decision making is not always easy. There are days, of course, when things are clear: We know exactly what to do, what to say, how to ‘be’ with hardly a thought about an issue or its ramifications. Other times we are intensely focussed on a high value event—although the truth is all events are high value. Should I marry? Whom should I marry? Shall we move? Where shall we move? Is this job right for me? Should I change professions? Is it the right time to continue my studies? Should I stay home and care for the children or put them in crèche or day-care? Should I support my child studying abroad? Or should I insist s/he stay nearby? Should I put my parents in a care home? Should I care for them in my home? Should we retire here? Or continue the retirement dream abroad?
Sometimes these questions are easy, the way very clear and may demand little thought. But if you wrestle with these questions and find them difficult, you are not alone. We have, however, wonderful promises in Scripture, whether life comes easy or not to us. The promise that “our steps are ordered” is one such gift.
Proverbs 3:24 highlights this issue stating we are to “trust in the Lord” with all our heart; to not lean to our own understanding. In acknowledging him, he will direct our paths; he will “make them straight”. The author states further in Proverbs 4: 26 that we should “look straight ahead; fix [our] gaze directly in front of [us]”. We can all relate to those less than straight paths we’ve taken; the times we have turned our gaze and missed the goal
What should our response be to these issues? Clearly, we are encouraged to trust that God has our best interests at heart. In our partnership with Him, our way is directed. Having done our part, He will bring things to pass as we focus, trust and pray. What a wonderful assurance in times of difficulty and stress. Sometimes we are breathless with anxiety, feeling hopeless about the future. That the ‘sure thing’—that necessary event—that ‘must have- must do’ action—is dead in the water. We failed. Things fell through. Now what? The key in such moments is TRUST!
We may never know why the action failed. Or we may eventually see how God has directed us without our even knowing it. We are human and often transfer the modelling of our early years to our God beliefs. This is where believing in the ‘truth of Scripture’ can be so healing, so rewarding. God is not ‘withholding’ that thing because ‘you’ve been bad and don’t deserve it’. His timing and direction are true.
When I took up a post in Arizona in the United States, awaiting word from a University in Belgium to continue my theological studies, I thought I’d totally missed the mark—especially when the letter of acceptance followed me from my parental home to the desert! I felt I’d failed; that I’d totally missed what I understood was the ‘mind and direction of God’. Over the next two years, I tried to get back to Belgium for a study I would have to finance; to a department that had accepted me with qualification. The trek in Arizona was not an easy one. But I continued to pray.
In the third year, a new exchange program to the University of Tübingen was looking for students. I applied and received a complete scholarsip for my area of study, with some of the finest theologians of the era. As I spoke German as a second language, had married in Germany and lived there intermittently since a teenager, going to Germany made perfect sense! And to add just one more blessing, Samuel (my husband) stopped by the University Computer centre to introduce himself and strode away with an assistantship! God had a better plan. I had to wait for His timing. And His way was ‘above all that I could ask or think’.
This is just one example of God’s direction. Take a moment and examine your own experience in God. How has He led you? Where are you now because of His timing and guidance? Even when you despaired that you’d ‘made a mistake’ or ‘had not heard His voice’, yet He was guiding and leading as you trusted Him.
No matter our stage in life, He will lead and guide us: We need only Trust!
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1984, by International Bible Society. Used by permission of International Bible Society.