Have you ever halted before two paths and pondered which one to take?
The steady, defined road you have been traversing suddenly diverges into two separate paths.
You hesitate, your sweaty hand gripping the map. The directions blur into nothing but slashes and faded pencil marks. You strain your eyes to read the faint hieroglyphics that are obviously written for aliens. Fear squeezes your heart. You shiver as tree branches creak and groan and unidentifiable sounds (is that a bear?) fill the air.
All of the advice you have heard about paths and trails and roads surfaces. The famous lines by Robert Frost echo in your head . . .
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
Too trite. Too stale. You search for something else.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Apparently, you are to simply make up a path and follow where it leads. Although this might work at some point, today it is not helpful. You have only two options at this point.
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. –Lewis Carroll
A plan is good. You need a plan. But this time you do not know what the plan should be. Did anybody anticipate your coming this way? Perhaps you can figure this out if you try hard enough.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. –Gautama Buddha
Good old Buddha. Too bad he did not know that Someone is ready to save us. And he did not answer the question: which path must you take? Pithy sayings, but no weight behind them.
As a child, I remember my mom quoting a verse from Proverbs. She told my siblings and me that this was a passage her father had shared with her years before. The verses were Proverbs 3:5-6.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Over the years, I have watched my mom face challenges when a road before her turned into two paths. The decisions of life came often, and again and again she had to turn back to this passage.
Recently, I have been feeling somewhat like you may feel, with choices laid before me. By nature, I hate choices and decisions. Just tell me what to do and I will forever follow you.
But God is not letting me off easy. He never has. He stands before me, and His voice rises above other thoughts and impressions.
- Trust Me. Trust means an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. I find it easy to trust that God created the world in 7 days. That He holds every part of it in His mighty hand. But to trust Him for this path, this decision, this life? Can He really know me, love me that much? His voice calls to me and I must acquiesce. His strength, character, and ability are more than enough for me. I fearfully take one step toward His voice.
- Lean on Me. Understanding means a mental grasp or the power of comprehending. My understanding is finite. Although I can grasp the pros and cons of certain decisions, only He knows the ultimate result of making those decisions. I am not to lean on my own mental grasp of the situation before me. I am to lean on His all-powerful knowledge and wisdom of my past, present, and future. Leaning on Him means I can rest. I take one more step.
- Acknowledge Me. Acknowledge means to recognize the rights, authority, or status of. When I acknowledge His authority and rights over me, I outwardly show the inward honor I have for Him. The esteem for His position over my life. If I fail to acknowledge Him and make plans on my own, I am missing the third key to finding direction. The other steps are important but not complete without this final step. I breathe deeply and move once more.
And then I see that the promise follows.
He shall direct thy paths.
Direct means to show or point out the way for someone else. The word can also mean to prescribe or determine a course or procedure. I take my first steps down the path. My Guide is leading, and I walk with confidence behind Him.
Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate. –J. R. R. Tolkien
More intersections and crossings and roads will appear on the journey ahead. But if I trust, lean on, and acknowledge Him, He will guide me on every path.