For me, following Jesus means that I work a day job, (for which I am very thankful). My morning and evening commutes, however, are the most challenging 25 to 60 minutes of my day. This week I set up a phone application that checks the current traffic. I press a button, and a kind machine voice selects the best route, assuring me, “You are on the quickest possible path to your destination.”
We love maps. We know our destination and most times, we have a good idea of our present location. Nevertheless, there’s a satisfaction and a sense of security knowing the “next step” in our itinerary. We want to know that we’re traveling on the best possible path. God’s will is no exception.
Our Path in God’s Plan
As Christians, we know where we are. Though we are not of the world, Jesus has purposely sent us into this world with His testimony, (John 17:14-18 NASB). We know where we’re going. Our destination is heaven, “a city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God,” (Hebrews 11:10 NASB). But what about the route between the two? Where is the pleasant voice that’s telling us God’s plan and informing us of the path of least resistance?
We want a map.
As a young Christian, I prayed, and often fasted, to know God’s “big plan.” I wanted to know the path God had planned for me. That way, I could avoid mistakes and help Him make the most of my time. [Pause here, for uproarious laughter.] In contrast, Jesus said, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NASB).
Looking back, who could have known the path each of us was to walk with God? Recently, I caught myself telling stories to my adult son and his wife. Listening to my own words, I was amazed at all the goodness of God I’d witnessed. How many of these miracles of God would have occurred if I’d known of them in advance? Likely, none. I’ve learned never to underestimate my ability to interrupt God. And my many mistakes? Like splinters from rough-hewn wood, God has used my errors to pierce my arrogance, irritating me until I allow Him to change my attitude and remove my sin.
Jesus walked the gentle hills of Galilee, rising early and staying up late to seek the will of the Father. At Capernaum, His disciples were amazed to see growing numbers of followers. It was still dark when Simon and his companions interrupted Jesus’ early morning prayers. Simon chided Jesus, “Everyone is looking for you,” (Mark 1:37 NASB), as if Jesus should be concerned with self-promotion. Jesus answered, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” (Mark 1:38 NASB). Christ walked by a heavenly itinerary.
Jesus sent out twelve disciples, “giving them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases,” (Luke 9:1 NASB). He allowed them to take nothing for the journey. He told them how to find a place to stay, how to enter a house and the way they should leave a rebellious city. And one more thing,
Later, He sent out the seventy, telling them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” (Luke 10:2 NASB). They were instructed to “Carry no purse, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way.” (Luke 10:4 NASB). On the way where? You guessed it… He gave them no maps.
We wander for God. A long time ago, God promised Joshua and the children of Israel that, “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.” (Joshua 1:3 NASB). I believe that promise still stands. It’s easy to get caught up worrying about whether to go this way or that way. Just pray and go. If God has something different in mind, He’ll let you know, so long as you’re checking in with Him regularly.
I look at my phone. I do not hear a mechanical voice telling me I am on the quickest or the shortest path to my heavenly destination. Nonetheless, God gives grace for each day as it comes. There is a profound peace not knowing where each day takes us. After all, we don’t need a map to get where we’re going.
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