To make the road obvious

I have no sense of direction on road trips or in buildings or anywhere. Even if the sun is visible and someone tells me which direction I’m going, I can’t tell you which way I’m heading without careful contemplation. So as you can imagine, Google Maps is my friend, and that has special meaning this morning.

As you’re reading this, I’m driving by myself to Estes Park. My best friend got married this past weekend, and now I’m heading out on a week-long sabbatical of sorts. I’ve been this way before, though, so there’s not much chance that I’ll get lost.

I’m stepping back from normal life for a little while, taking a road trip with Jesus, because it’s time for me to take a good, long look at life, the universe, and everything.

At some points in our lives, I think it’s a good idea to reevaluate the decisions we’ve made, to make sure that we’re still heading in the direction God wants. It’s the same reason you carry a compass when you go hiking.

God asks us to follow Him, but if we don’t stop sometimes to make sure we’re still on the right path, we run the risk of wandering off.

My life verse has always been Proverbs 3:5-6, and I’ve always found it to be true. I can make my own plans as much as I want, but ultimately God is the one in control of my life. How foolish would I be if I tried to do things my own way?

But I do. Often.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6That’s why I have my compass, Proverbs 3:5-6 — Trust God, even when life doesn’t make sense, and He’ll make your path obvious.

A few other versions of the Bible translate verse 6 to be: “he will make your paths straight.”

But I think I love the Amplified version the best:

In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

How awesome is that?

That’s the kind of awesome I need in my crazy, confused, stressful life, to know for sure that the direction I’m walking is the one God wants for me. That’s the sweet spot, where I want to live.

So that’s what this week is about. Refocusing. Getting centered on God’s Word again. Making sure that I’m following Jesus’ road the way I’m supposed to, not trusting my own interpretation of life, but instead trusting His.

That’s the hard part, because I like to make sense of life. I like to fit the scattered pieces of life into a neat portrait, like a jigsaw puzzle coming together. But life can’t make sense without Jesus. It’s hard enough to make sense of it with Him, I wouldn’t even want to try without Him.

Life can't make sense without Jesus. - A.C. WilliamsSo in those moments where you need to check your directions, remember your compass. Remember that trusting your own understanding won’t help you conquer the trouble life throws at you. Instead, trust what God says. Do what God says. And keep your eyes peeled for the road God wants you on, because as long as you’re relying on His directions, the road you’re supposed to be walking will become obvious.

That’s a promise.

Trust that God is in control of your future

Whenever I face major decisions in my life, I always end up dealing with some level of discouragement. Am I making the right call? Am I making the wrong call? Am I choosing this path because I’m frustrated? If I make this decision, will God be angry with me? Will He refuse to bless me if I do what I think is right?

Good questions. And they’re good questions to ask yourself, especially when you are teetering on the edge of a life-changing decision. What college will you attend? What job will you accept? What city will you live in? What house will you buy?

I’ve got a pretty big decision coming up here soon. Can’t talk about it quite yet. But it’s a doozy. And my anxieties are taking me for a wild ride. And as I was sitting in my desk chair at my office yesterday, stressed out and worrying, I looked up and asked God to show me I was doing the right thing. I felt stupid asking, honestly. Because only people in books or movies do that. And God’s not bound to giving me signs when I ask for it. But I was putting myself in knots.

And not five minutes later, God dropped a massive bag of encouragement right on my big, stupid face. It was like He was telling me, Stop worrying already! What do I have to do? And it even came from the person I least expected. God used somebody I didn’t even think liked me to encourage me and remind me that He’s in control, and He is the one who determines success. Not me.

tightropeToday’s verses are Proverbs 3:5-6.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

This is my life verse. If you don’t know what that is, some Christians pick verses out of the Bible because they represent the kind of life they want to live. I chose this verse when I was a freshman in high school.

That doesn’t mean I always listen to it, though. No, I actually chose this verse because it’s something I strive to do on a daily basis. I don’t always listen to God. I don’t always trust Him. I mostly lean on my own understanding, take credit for His actions, and follow my own rules.

This verse is a reminder for me. No, it’s more than a reminder. It’s a 2×4, and I need to use it more often.

God says Trust! So I need to choose to trust Him regardless of my circumstances. If He has pointed me in a specific direction, I need to follow that road until it ends. And it shouldn’t be a half-hearted trust where I tiptoe ahead, terrified of what’s in front of me. No, it should be a bold, confident stride. Humble still, yes, but not afraid.
God says not to rely on my own perspective of life. That’s hard. But we can’t see life and living the way the world does and expect to be successful in what God has called us to do. You can’t serve the world and God at the same time. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t walk two roads. It just doesn’t work. You’ll fail both.

We like to make the idea of seeking God’s will complicated, but it’s not. That just means to do what God says is right. Maybe He doesn’t have specific directions like “Don’t buy a house that costs $1 million” or “Stop eating Big Macs.” But God does tell us to be responsible with our finances and to take care of our bodies, and that may look different for each person. God has told us what is right. We just have to do it.

And if you do those things, God will show you what direction you’re supposed to go. Trust Him, see life as He sees it, and value what He values—and you’ll know what you’re supposed to do.

And in those moments where you just feel discouraged, look up. God’s not too busy to reassure you. And you might be surprised how He does it and who He uses.

Tracks through a wheat field

Asking for directions to a straight path

I’m terrible with directions. I admit it. I can’t tell north, east, south or west without a compass. I mean, I know which direction I’m facing when I’m at home, some of the time. But I can’t remember what way roads run, and I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head which direction I’m going. As far as I’m concerned, the hood of the car always points north. I even have trouble with left and right sometimes.
Yet, even in my admitted weaknesses, I refuse to ask for directions. I hate asking for help in Wal-mart or Dillons while I’m shopping. I hate asking for directions to a place I’ve never been before; I’d much rather Google it or look it up on MapQuest.
So as a result, I often end up taking circuitous routes that take longer and use more gas to reach. And much of that could have been avoided if I had just swallowed my pride and asked someone how to get there.
It’s the same with life. If we don’t ask for directions on how to live, we get all confused and turned around. If we rely on our own strength and power to understand how life works, we’ll just end up depressed because the moment we think we understand, something will change. And we’ll discover that we don’t understand anything. And there’s nothing like having the rug pulled out from under you when you aren’t expecting it.
Tracks through a wheat field
Tracks through a wheat field – Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 3:5-6, my life verse.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
      do not depend on your own understanding.
 6 Seek his will in all you do,
      and he will show you which path to take.
There’s another translation of this passage that says, “In all your ways, submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
That sounds pretty good to me. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my crazy, busy, sometimes out-of-control life, I could use some straight paths.
Okay? So how do we find a straight path? Well, in a manner of speaking, you have to ask directions how to get there. If we want God to reveal and direct and “make plain” the straight path, we have to seek His will, according to this passage. And not just in a few things, we have to seek His will in everything we do. Not just Sunday. Not just at church. Not just at home. Every moment of every day needs to be devoted to seeking His will.
Well, what is His will? I talked about this yesterday and many other times: we can’t know God’s will for our lives because it’s too big for us, but we can know His will for us today. And today, He wants us to trust what He says in His Word.
Trust what God says. Don’t rely on your own interpretation of events. Read the Bible. Know the Bible. After all, it’s a roadmap to life. God gave it to us so we wouldn’t get lost and confused and depressed as we live our hectic lives on this crazy ball of dirt.
I’m bad at this because I want to trust my own judgment and my own sense of direction when it comes to living. I want to make sense of life so I can control it. Well, life doesn’t work that way. Life is too big for me. But it’s not too big for God, and if I want to find my place in life, I have to ask God to show me where I fit in.
Seeking God’s will to me is more like seeking His heart. Once you understand God’s heart, living His will is a lot easier. And if you ask Him and read the Bible, truly seeking to know what He asks from us, pretty soon your paths will start to straighten out. And even if they look curvy and treacherous to other people, God will straighten them out for you. Because that’s what He does.