The other night, I had to drive through fog down unfamiliar, windy, dark roads. Talk about a frightening experience! I started out with my hands gripped tightly to the steering wheel (both hands, of course), sitting straight up instead of relaxing into the back of my chair, and my eyes squinting to see as far ahead as possible. My whole body was tensely focused on seeing ahead, and I was inevitably frustrated and somewhat anxious because there wasn’t really that much I could see. It was just haze and darkness.
But, I learned something that night. Things were a whole lot easier when I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t see and redirected my attention to what I could see. I slowed down and stopped squinting to see what was ahead. It wasn’t easy to retrain my eyes, but I shifted my gaze to the point right ahead of my car, where my lights shone, and not the distant darkness.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like my life is a foggy night and I’m trying to navigate a windy and unfamiliar path. This frustrates me because I like to have the whole plan when I undertake something. I’m also a question asker. When I start a project, I want to know: What exactly is the final product supposed to look like? What are the steps I need to go through to get there? How long is this going to take? What are the pitfalls? What happens when it’s over? Has anyone else done this before? Will I get a blessing at the end of all this?
I’m no Abraham who, “when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8, NIV).
Oh no, I’m more of the “God, I’ll go when you tell me where, when, what, how, and why” kind of person. That makes the faith walk hard for me.
I’m always straining and squinting to see what’s ahead in the darkness.
I’m so focused on what I can’t see that I miss out on what’s visible right now.
I’m paralyzed and unable to move forward because the unknown seems so treacherous.
In my quiet times this week, I came across this verse,“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed” (Proverbs 29:18, MSG).
This is one of those verses that steps on my toes a bit and calls me to account. It asks me to put aside how I naturally react to things and make some tough changes so I can become more like Christ. It cuts deep into my heart and reveals some of my hidden doubts and fears.
I wrote in my journal, “God, this is so true of me. I feel like I need to be ‘in on’ what You’re doing in order to be encouraged and sure-footed. Please help me to attend to what you reveal and not worry about what You’re doing that I can’t see.”
It’s hard to be content with just what He has revealed. I’m easily discouraged because I don’t see the results of my obedience and all the effort I’m making in the here and now seems useless and unrewarded. When I don’t know what’s ahead of me, I so quickly begin to worry about the details of the future. What if there’s an obstacle I haven’t considered? What if there’s a curve in the road that I can’t see?
It makes me think of Paul, who stood before King Agrippa and gave an account of his life and ministry. In that testimony, Paul says, “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven” (Acts 26:19, NIV). When Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus years earlier, he didn’t give Paul a detailed outline of his future life of ministry. God didn’t describe the shipwrecks, beatings and imprisonments Paul would endure, but He also didn’t tell him about the salvations, the travels to faraway lands where no one had ever taken the gospel, or how many of his letters would end up in the Bible.
Instead, God’s initial call for the apostle was so basic, so simple, and so lacking in details. God told him, “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6, NIV). At this point, Paul (at that point still called Saul) was literally and figuratively blind! He couldn’t focus on the unknown. All he could do was obey the next step, what God had revealed just for that moment, and towards the end of the life he could say with confidence that he obeyed “the vision from heaven.”
Years from now, will I be able to say that I obeyed God’s call? Or will I wait so long for the details and assurances of success that I never step out in faith and obedience? Will I give up on what God has called me to do because I don’t see results and reward? Or will I remain obedient to the vision and refuse to give up when the future seems hazy and dark?
It is a matter of focus. When I worry about the many things I don’t know, I stumble all over myself and get lost in the fog. But when I “attend to what He reveals,” focusing only on what God has told me to do right now in this moment, I will be “most blessed.”
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King