A lamp post at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Uncharted territory is rarely predictable

The beginning of a new year is always an interesting time because everyone is thinking about the future. Everyone is making plans for how this year will be different than last year or how they’re going to improve themselves or their lives. And it’s absolutely a good thing for people to look into how to better themselves. Resolutions are great things, especially if you can keep them. But have you ever been in a position where God is leading you to do something you’ve never done before?

We all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a new year, the making of resolutions, the struggle to keep our resolutions, the disappointment when we drop our resolutions. Everyone has experienced that. But what about God? Not that God makes new year’s resolutions, but if He did, what would they look like?

A lamp post at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

A lamp post at Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Today’s verse is Isaiah 43:19.

For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

One thing I love about God is that He’s always up to something. He’s always got something going on. Life with God is never ever boring, and those of us who truly follow Christ understand what the Bible means when Jesus tells us that He came to bring us life more abundant. Life following Christ is always exciting.

What God is referencing in this verse through the Prophet Isaiah is the coming of Christ to save His people. That was something that had never happened before. That was something people had never seen before. And the way He promised to send Christ was impossible, but He explained how it was going to happen centuries and centuries before Christ was born. He gave people a head’s up so they could get on board with what God had planned before it happened.

I think God does that for us today. I think sometimes He hollers down at us and is just waiting for someone to pay attention long enough to see Him waving. God has plans. He has lots and lots of plans, and He’s just looking for someone to step up and offer to do what needs doing. His plans don’t always make sense to us, and even when He makes “paths in the wilderness” for us to follow, they don’t always seem like they go anywhere. But if you’re one of the people who agreed to do what God asked and you find yourself feeling lost, remember that God may be doing something new in your life.

What does it mean to do something new? It means that it’s nothing anyone has ever seen before. So if it’s nothing anyone has ever seen, if it’s a path that no one has ever traveled before, why do you expect to know where you’re going? How can you think you will know what to expect? It’s uncharted territory. The only person who really knows what’s coming is God. He’s the map maker, after all.

So if you’re one of those people who has decided to chase after God wholeheartedly, to live for Him, to “sacrifice” everything else you could be doing with your life, remember in the dark moments that you’re not going to be able to see the end of your road all the time. Navigating God’s plan isn’t like navigating in Kansas, where you can see 20 miles in front of you. It’s more like trying to get around in London or Edinburgh or one of those ancient cities where you’re fortunate to be able to see your next step because the roads are so narrow and the buildings are so close. And because you can’t always see where you’re going, that just means you have to trust your navigation system.

What’s great about God is that He doesn’t leave us to navigate alone. We have the Bible. We have the Holy Spirit. And if you’ve decided to follow the path God has marked out for you, you have everything you need to find your way. You may not be able to see where you’re going, but sight has never been essential when it comes to following God.

It’s not that far into 2014 yet, and some people may already be ready to give up on their resolutions because change feels impossible or too uncontrollable. Be encouraged this morning. Don’t give up, especially if it’s something you know God has called you to do. You won’t always be able to see your next step, but if it’s something God has called you to do, He won’t let you fall.

Stones of Hadrian's Wall, North England, United Kingdom

Doing God’s will instead of just finding it

The concept of following God’s will for your life is something you’ll hear in churchy circles on a regular basis. Everyone wants to know God’s will. Who wouldn’t? It would be so much easier if God would just thump us on the head with a neon sign explaining exactly what we’re supposed to go do with ourselves, but He doesn’t really work that way.

That all-important question drives so many people: What is God’s will? We treat it like a holy question, like it’s some camouflaged animal crouching in the brush too scared to reveal itself. But I don’t think God’s will is like that. I don’t think we have to tiptoe around God’s will in our lives like it will disappear if we step too hard. I don’t even think God’s will is difficult to discern. What’s difficult about God’s will is obedience.

Stones of Hadrian's Wall, North England, United Kingdom

Stones of Hadrian’s Wall, North England, United Kingdom

Today’s verse is 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.

Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

I think we get caught up in finding God’s will for our life, when we really need to find God’s will for today. We don’t understand our lives anyway, so trying to find the answer to sum up the purpose for our life in one word isn’t a very good idea. I don’t think we can do it.

But finding God’s will for today? What does the Bible say? What is right in front of you today? Do you need to go to work? Do you need to go to school? Do you need to take care of someone else? I love this passage because it’s talking about a group of people who made a real difference. The churches of Macedonia didn’t have much, but because God told them to give, they gave. And God blessed their obedience through Paul. Can you imagine being a supporting church for the Apostle Paul? Yikes.

Whatever God has put in your path today is what you need to focus on right now, and you need to do that according to how God says to live in the Bible. That’s why it’s so important to know what the Bible says. But what about tomorrow? Just being honest here, I’m facing some pretty big decisions in 2014, one of which just popped up a few days ago and seems to be taking on a life of its own. It’s exciting and terrifying and wonderful and so much bigger than me, and the first question I had was: “Is this God’s will?” Because I don’t want this to be just some wild hare that popped up in my random brain.

But if I take it and examine it according to the Bible, it’s not. Making this decision wouldn’t contradict anything in Scripture. On the contrary, it would actually help spread God’s word to other people. Plus, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of, and it’s something people need. It’s something that God can use to really make a difference in people’s lives.

Everything is in place just about. God has opened many doors, especially in the last few days, that demonstrate that this idea isn’t from me. It’s from Him. So why do I hesitate? Why am I still stuck in the “searching for God’s will” phase?

Honestly? I’m terrified. This is a huge step. It’s a massive decision. It’s not the decision I ever anticipated making, and it scares me because it’s unknown. And that’s where we get to the obedience part.

If God has told you to do something, do it. Don’t hesitate. Don’t speculate. Don’t worry. Just jump. Dive in head first and trust that God will catch you. If you’re living your life for Him, if you’re seeking Him first in every decision you make, if your purpose in life is to give Him glory, you can’t make a wrong move. The decisions and choices you make, if they are dedicated to Him, will be successful. Maybe not in how you define success but it’s more important to be successful in God’s perspective anyway.

So here’s to 2014, a year of change and transition! I’ve mentioned a few times how awful 2013 was, and it really was. It was a tough year. A hard year. A frustrating year. But one of the many blessings that came out of 2013 was me learning how to trust God all over again. I’ve always trusted Him but never like this. I saw God do miracles last year. I saw God take situations that could have no resolution and tie everything up with a beautiful bow. And if God can do that with all the craziness of last year, I know He can do miracles this year too.

So I’m going to trust Him. If He says jump, I’m going to ask: “How high?” He knows what He’s doing, and He never asks us to do something that He won’t equip us for. That doesn’t mean the process will be easy. It rarely is. But as long as He’s there, it won’t fail. Not in the areas where it matters.

So what is God telling you to do today?