“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
If you haven’t learned this about God yet, I will tell you that He seems to operate on a “need-to-know” basis. In other words, He can be pretty sparing with the details. As believers, we are to obey and follow Him, even when we cannot see how it will all work out. The reason for this is that we are called to walk by faith, and a “faith” that can see everything and know every outcome in advance is no faith at all, for faith deals with that which we cannot see and do not yet possess.
A great example of this is the life of Abraham. The Bible says of him: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). It would seem that God just kind of pointed and said, “That-a-way” and Abraham picked up everything and went. As it turns out, Abraham’s obedience not only served him well, as his faith “was accounted to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6), but it also blessed generations to come. His legacy of faith began what is now the nation of Israel from which came the Messiah. There was no way Abraham could have known all this from the outset. He simply trusted in God and walked in the light he had.
God has a plan for each and every life. However, to realize the fullness of His plan for our lives, we too, like Abraham, must walk by faith (see 2 Corinthians 5:7). We will not always understand God’s direction or plan, because we cannot see what He sees. Often the temptation will arise to improvise and insert our “great idea” into the mix. Even Abraham did this. When God’s promise of a child seemed past its due date, Abraham and Sarah, his wife, contrived a way in which they could “help God out.” At her insistence, Abraham took Sarah’s maid, Hagar, and had a child with her. This would be the quick and dirty, man-made version of God’s promise fulfilled. Not only did this not turn out well for Abraham and Sarah, but Hagar and her son became the victims of their foolish attempt to play God as well. So it is with us, that when we fail to trust God and choose to walk instead in our own wisdom, both we those around us may suffer.
As we read the scriptures, we often see that God works over the course of one’s life. He does not necessarily operate on our ideal timetable. Thus, we may feel that little is happening and that God has forgotten about us, when in reality, He is oftentimes working into us the necessary character to become who we need to be so that we can do what He has ultimately called us to do. Moses was another of God’s servants who obviously felt God was not moving quickly enough. Called to be the deliverer of God’s people from their Egyptian bondage, Moses took matters into his own hands and slew an Egyptian who was abusing one of his fellow Hebrews. As a result, Moses became a fugitive and fled to the backside of the desert where he tended sheep for forty years. It’s hard not to imagine that Moses had long abandoned any idea of stepping into the calling he had once perceived on his life. Yet those years away from the spotlight were not wasted years, as God worked such humility into Moses that it could be said of him that he “was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). That humility was the necessary key that Moses lacked as the fiery young prince of Egypt who would try to deliver the children of Israel by his own hand. Instead, he served as a humble instrument in the hand of God and was used in a fashion virtually unparalleled in Israel’s history. By his hand God wrought such wonders as to bring a superpower to its knees and deliver His people into their inheritance.
None of these stories seemed so epic when they were being lived out in real time from one day to the next by the characters involved. It takes time and some perspective to see them in their fullness. Likewise, our journey with God begins with daily acts of obedience to His Word which serves as the light that illumines our path. If we cannot act in obedience to what He has already revealed to us in His Word, why would He give us even more direction? We don’t need a burning bush or a Damascus Road experience to tell us how to live for God. If He has such additional direction for us, He is more than capable of revealing it when necessary, but more often than not, God’s direction will come to our hearts as we are faithfully walking in the light we already have. In my own life, I have on a few occasions received guidance in what could be called a more spectacular fashion, but as a usual thing God has simply led me by the witness of His Spirit to my own heart while engaged in what I knew to do at the time.
God has promised to lead us, and there are times He will stir us up to seek Him for specific direction when a change of season is coming to our lives. However, such course changes do not occur every day, and we can spend a lot of unnecessary energy trying to see around the corner to the next thing God has for us when in fact He has given us light enough to walk in His will for our lives right where we are. If there are areas where we know we’re not walking in the light of truth, we must be honest enough with ourselves and with God to acknowledge it, and He will forgive us and direct our steps into His best for us.
Lastly, we all need a community of faith in which to grow. We are not meant to do this on our own. As members of His body, we each supply to one another the necessary encouragement to run this race that is set before us (see Hebrews 10:24-25). None of us are a solo act. We are “members of one another” (Romans 12:5), and it is in that local church context that the gifts God has given us will find expression as we discover our purpose, walking in the light He gives.