Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths! [Psalm 81:13 (NLT)]
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” [John 8:12 (NLT)]
While waiting in faith for God’s direction is a wise move, some choices require walking in faith. Wanting to make the right decision, we ask God for wisdom and guidance and ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” We analyze the situation, list the pros and cons, look to God’s word and wait for His direction. In spite of doing all that, we’re often left with more than one good option. Do we continue to wait in faith for a neon sign or do we start walking?
Whenever I stroll along the walking path in our subdivision I have to make a choice when the trail splits in two; one path leads into the woods and the other runs alongside the woods. There’s no need for me to mull over whether I go left or right but, for the moment, let’s pretend that those two paths represent two good options in an important decision about which God has remained silent. Which is the best path to take? The trail through the woods meanders up and down hills and offers a better opportunity to see woodland wildflowers. The other trail is shorter, better maintained, and easier to traverse. While I’m not as likely to see a bunny or butterfly on it, I am more likely to meet a neighbor and get waylaid in conversation. The wooded trail is shady and prettier but has more mosquitos; the open trail offers sunshine but can be brutally hot on a sunny summer day. Both trails meet again and end up in the same place. One trail is longer and harder, the other shorter and easier; they each have pluses and minuses. Which trail is the best choice? Neither and both. Each trail gets me where I’m going, just in slightly different ways.
When God says, “Follow me!” it’s easy to know where to go and which path to take. There are, however, many times that His guidance isn’t specific and signs haven’t been posted to mark the best way. Wanting to follow God’s plan but unable to discern it, we’re in a quandary as to what it is and which way to go. If we don’t see Him ahead of us, how can we follow Him? Yet, if we always wait for specific directions or a neon sign to guide us, we’ll make little progress in our life’s journey. When we can’t see God in front of us, we must trust that He is beside (and even behind) us and just start walking. Secure in His presence and always listening for His voice, we can walk confidently wherever we go. When we step out in faith, with Him as our guide, either path we choose will eventually become the best one.
God’s guidance is almost always step-by-step; He does not show us our life’s plan all at once. Sometimes our anxiousness to know the will of God comes from a desire to peer over God’s shoulder to see what His plan is. What we need to do is learn to trust Him to guide us. [Jerry Bridges]