During a walk on a frosty day, an unusual sight was seen. The pond was almost frozen over. Ice started around the shoreline and was reaching towards the centre. There, huddled together in the small area of remaining water, swam a few geese.
“Why hadn’t they flown south yet?” I wondered. It was only a matter of days before the ice would completely cover the pond. They were certainly leaving things until the last moment.
The scene made me think of the number of times I’ve acted like a silly goose. Signs of an impending freeze in my life have been ignored. If I don’t acknowledge what’s happening around me, maybe the trouble won’t materialize. After all, there’s no immediate danger so I may not have to take action.
This type of attitude has not served me well. Often the reason I put off making a decision is that I’m not sure which direction to take. What if I make the wrong choice? I fail to realize that making no decision is still making a decision!
I don’t know what the future holds but I do have a personal relationship with the One who does. God has promised to teach us what to do. I just need to call out to him in prayer and listen carefully for his response.
With this kind of power available to me, not to seek his guidance would make me as silly as those geese.
The Lord says, “I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8 GWT)
My husband and I recently attended a performance in an outdoor amphitheatre. We were searching for our seats when a helpful usher said, “Do you know where you’re going? Can I help?”
I thought we were close to our seats so wasn’t sure we needed assistance. Her guidance, however, proved to be very helpful.
We were seated close to the main walkway and observed this scene repeated numerous times as other struggled to figure out the seating arrangement.
Many patrons gratefully accepted assistance. A few surprised me by snapping, “I’ve got no idea.” as they carried on, not stopping to receive directions. Help was there and they refused it, preferring to keep walking in frustration.
I wondered how often foolish pride has kept me from accepting help when I needed it. Sometimes I just need to be pointed in the right direction. Other times I require more guidance. Either way, I won’t get the help I need unless I stop and ask.
There is one who always knows in which direction I should be headed. Not only does God know where I’m going, he is willing to show me the best way to get there. Sometimes he does this by sending someone to walk beside me. Other times he gives me the wisdom needed to find my way.
All I need to do is pray and then stop long enough to listen to the answer.
Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21 NLT)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5 NIV)
I don’t want to walk.” the little girl said. “Carry me.”
“I’ll carry you this time, but next time you need to walk.” replied the grandma.
The little girl looked into her grandma’s eyes and said, “But I like it when you carry me.”
The grandma lovingly replied, “I like it when I carry you, too, but you’re a big girl now and have to learn to walk on your own.”
As I watched this scene unfold, my relationship with God came to mind. When I am weary he carries me until I can regain my strength. In his loving arms, I feel safe and cared for.
Then comes the time he encourages me to walk on my own. I don’t feel ready; can’t you just keep carrying me? He lovingly tells me, “You’re a big girl now. You can do this.”
It can be scary but the support and guidance of God will give me strength and confidence. It’s time to trust him and take those steps. I am confident he will be there to pick me up if need be. How can I be certain of this? That’s the way God treats all of his precious children.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1 NIV)
“I feel like I’m doing something wrong when I step on the other side of this line.” I said to my husband.
We were walking along a grassy path and the sun was hitting a tall chain link fence at just the right angle to create a duplicate fence shadow.
The line I was walking beside represented the top of the fence. Unsure which side to walk along, I was, in effect, straddling the fence!
“What a good example of life” I said. Metaphorically I sit on the fence, to keep from making decisions. I wouldn’t want to come down on the wrong side and offend anyone. It would be embarrassing to make a mistake by choosing the wrong side.
When I walked above the fence line it didn’t seem right. Unconsciously I adjusted my pace to follow the line. To do this I had to look down, to watch my steps. This meant I wasn’t looking up at what was around me.
Did it make a difference which side of this line my feet fell on? Not at all.
I was doing what I’ve always done, not veering off of the straight line before me. By watching my feet and not looking up I was trusting in my own limited knowledge and not looking up to the Lord for guidance.
The Lord has promised to instruct and teach me in the way I should go. My focus needs to be up and on him. His counsel will always direct me to the line he wants me to walk.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8 NIV)
The wise counsel GOD gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. Day and night I’ll stick with GOD; I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go. Psalm 16:7-8 (The Message)
“Look at all the little fish,” my husband said. The long narrow tide pool was teaming with streaks of silver about the length of my little finger.
As we walked farther we could see the water get shallower until it dried up completely. Now we understood why all of these fish were heading in the opposite direction. They needed to find their way back to the safety of deeper water.
On our return we discovered that most of the fish had stopped in the middle of the tide pool where the water was deepest. Only a few seemed to be determined to get back to the sea.
I thought of the times I have only done enough to get out of immediate danger. No thought was given to the future if everything was comfortable at the present moment.
I watched fish turn back as the depth of water decreased slightly. It was still deep enough to continue but the level had changed. I wanted to cheer them on and let them know how close they were to the spot where the tide pool joined with the sea.
When left to my own devices I wonder how often I have turned back just before I reached my goal. I am unable to see what is in store for me ahead. That is why I trust Jesus to guide me. He is the one who sees the beginning from the end.
You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence. (Acts 2:28 NLT)
While driving the long, flat roads of the Canadian Prairies I frequently saw tumbleweeds rolling across the road. Some would make it into a neighbouring field but many others got caught on the barbed wire fences that bordered the highway.
Wikipedia describes tumbleweeds as a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of a number of species of plants. Once the plant is mature and dry it detaches from its root or stem, and tumbles away in the wind.
This made me think of times in life I have detached from my roots and tumbled along aimlessly. With nothing to hold me down I was free to go where the wind might take me. It also meant I had no direction and could end up stuck in places I hadn’t wanted to be.
A better choice is to keep my roots firmly anchored in The Lord. When I mature in my relationship with him, I will not become dry and detached. He promises to guide me and satisfy my needs like a well-watered garden. No longer will I be like a tumbleweed.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:11 NIV)
I was being careful of my footing that morning. The tide was in, forcing us higher up the beach than normal. My eyes were focused on where to safely place my next step to avoid slipping. As I picked my way over rocks, shells and sandbags.
Ahead of me I realized my husband had come to a stop. When I started to look up to see why, a shadow just above caused me to duck. My head narrowly missed the base of an overhanging deck. I had been aware of the wall beside me but not the danger looming slightly higher.
This was a vivid reminder of what can happen when I focus only on my next step. I become so self absorbed that I am unaware of dangers that are right in front of me.
By starting each day in prayer, asking for God to lead me, I am looking up for direction. He knows the difficulties I will encounter and will guide me accordingly.
Sometimes he will enable me to avoid them and in other situations will walk with me through them. In either case, my life improves when I practice looking up to the one who has promised to take hold of my hand and help me.
I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand and say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid; I will help you.’ Isaiah 41:13 GWT
One of my volunteer roles at a recent seminar was to open the doors at the start of each session to allow the participants to enter. As strange as it seems, this simple task pointed out some life lessons to me.
There were two main sets of doors to enter the training room. Line-ups formed at the closest set of doors, while the other set, just steps away, had few people using them. I realized that the majority of people follow the crowd. The ones that bypassed the line-up and walked to the second set of doors shook their heads in disbelief that so few thought to do this.
The metaphor was not lost on me. I wondered how often in life I have waited in line, following the crowd, when I could have moved ahead quickly if I’d taken the time to look for another open door.
The second thing I realized is that there is usually a reason for closed doors. In this case it was because there were preparations for the next session going on behind those doors. That’s why participants were asked not to enter until the doors were opened for them.
I thought of the many times in my life I’ve been frustrated because the door I wanted to walk through was closed. Perhaps the closed doors were there because I had more to learn before I would be ready to go through them. Maybe I was trying to do too much in my own strength rather than waiting for guidance from God.
All I know for sure is that the plan is not my own. My job is to be aware of the doors before me and learn from both the open and closed ones. I have faith that God will open the right doors for me as I walk closely with him and pay attention to his leading.
The Lord isn’t slow to do what he promised, as some people think. Rather, he is patient for your sake. He doesn’t want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act.( 2 Peter 3:9 GWT)
The pool in my city was to be closed for three months while maintenance and upgrades were done on the facility. This meant that I would need to find a replacement for my aquafit class.
As I put my membership on hold, I thought of all of the other forms of exercise I could do. It shouldn’t be a problem to keep myself motivated to exercise on my own.
That’s where I was wrong! My intentions were good, but the follow through was not.
The pool reopened this week. I was pleased with my progress as I worked through the class. Thinking the hour was almost up I glanced at the clock on the wall to see we weren’t even half way through!
The next class caused a few muscles to scream in protest. It was then I realized that I achieve better results with guidance from an instructor than I do on my own.
This applies to more than exercise. There have been many times I’ve thought I could do something on my own instead of enlisting the help of others. It may have been my pride, not willing to ask for help. Maybe I was trying to prove something to myself.
What I do know is that I have often decided to do things on my own instead of taking them to God for his guidance. This doesn’t usually end well. God knows the plan for my life and what needs to be done to accomplish it. His ways are far better than mine. With him guiding my life, I never have to do it on my own.
Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. (Psalm 73:23-24 NLT)
Have you ever been caught in a situation that took you by surprise and left you wondering what happened?
That was my experience recently. The situation itself is not important, how I dealt with it is what I need to focus on.
I sought a neutral party for guidance in how to proceed. After listening attentively to my story, I was asked how I was doing. My immediate response was, “I’m alright.” After assurance that this really was the case, we moved on.
The truth was that although I knew I would be alright, at that moment I was hurting. The person I was speaking to was in demand from other sources so I decided it was better not to add to her burden.
When I examined this the next day, I realized that this was a self-defeating behavior. By not acknowledging my feelings, I didn’t allow the other person the opportunity to comfort and reassure me. It was not my place to decide that for someone else.
Deep in my subconscious was the lie that I didn’t deserve the time and attention another was freely offering. I was suddenly struck by the thought that it’s not only other people I do this with. I have done the same with God.
Frequently I feel that my little issues are not worth taking to him. He has much more important things to take care of. That, however, is not the way God works. He cares about every aspect of my life and is always willing to give me the comfort and guidance I need. All I need to do is ask.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:23NIV)