Journey Toward A Destination Unknown

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A difficult part of following Christ is that we do not know the path upon which His plan will take us. Most frequently we get only one step at a time revealed to us. Then, all is quiet until we take that step. Lacking trust we say, “I just want to know how this will turn out. I want to know the way”.

None of us know the path our life will take, least of all a follower of Jesus Christ. There in lies the intrigue, the anguish, and the excitement of a walk of faith.

I can’t help but think, “if we were closer to the Lord we would more clearly see our future”. He is after all the author and finisher of our faith. We know He could see His path, He who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

Not so with us. Not so with Jacob. Jacob is known as the father of the 12 tribes of Israel but his early life would not indicate this final, victorious outcome. Consider his life. Jacob ran away from his home, friends, and family. He left the country and was pursued by his brother Esau. He was taken in by a nomadic family then tricked by its patriarch into serving seven years labor for a wife whose hand he did not ask for. In the middle of those desert years did Jacob know this path would lead him to the intended victorious end? It is unlikely. Rather, it is likely he thought he would be a refugee for the rest of his life.

But, the end of His life was different than he expected. He returned home with family and wealth surrounding him. He would be the patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel, not Esau the elder brother who remained at home. And though he would migrate to Egypt to escape famine (saved by the Lord moving through his son Joseph), he would die with his amazing, growing family around him. His family would become a nation, Israel. It was a great end that neither he nor his family could have known in the middle of his life.

Such is the limitation of a walk of faith. We cannot see where our faith in the Lord is taking us. But our end will be great. If your life is not what you hope for today know that as you continue to follow Jesus he will bring you to a great place and purpose.

If you are standing in faith today but do not know the path to your end it is ok, neither did Jacob. If you do not know where you may live, earn a living, serve the Lord, or minister to others in the future, but instead are heading in the general direction Christ has laid out for you, it is ok. You are on journey to a destination unknown. If you place your faith in Him He will order your steps:

The steps of a good man are ordered by The Lord and He delights in His steps (Psalm 37:23)

Steps of obedience are what He asked of us, not plans. But when we look far in the future and plan our way we begin to trouble ourselves. Perhaps by planning we cross a line returning to life lived as before we knew Him. Perhaps excessive planning is evidence we are trying to become our own God, the master of our own life, rather than serving the Master with our life. Consider these two verses:

There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

The Lord brings the counsel of nations to nothing. He makes the plans of the people of no effect (Psalm 33:10).

The scriptures teach us that our steps are for obedience and plans are the Lords.

He doesn’t reveal too much to us, or does He? If we ask the Lord His plan, it may be different. The Lord gave overwhelming detail of His plans to David to build the sanctuary. The design he downloaded to David included dimensions, material list, design patterns, everything right down to the gold forks and basins. In 1 Chronicles 28:19 David said to Solomon,

“All this The Lord made me understand, in writing, all the works of these plans.”

He also reveled to David that Solomon would build the temple, not David. That was not David’s plan!

It brings us back to a fundamental truth. We are to pursue not our plans, but His, step by step. We are not to confuse His plan by trying to insert our plan into it.

Not everything has gone according to plan in my life. I am certain of that. I’ve missed many steps. But along the journey I feel the Lord patiently pulling me back onto His plan. It’s a plan toward a destination unknown to me. A funny thing has happened along the way. As I have followed Him I have been able to be a part of a small story in His Plan. Melanie and I felt directed to go to Florida to open a business office five years ago. While in Florida we were given an opportunity to be apart of His plan to launch a new campus church. It was an opportunity that came to us in one day without any plan on my part. It is a reminder to me that our life is to be about taking steps of obedience to follow His plan, not ours.

GPS for Your Journey – 3 Habits to Keep you on Route

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Listen rather than look for direction in your journey

The chain saw ripped another scrub tree as we cleared the north Florida site for construction. VVVMMM!. Cell phone. “Not now”, I thought. “Answer that”, said something within me. Chain saw still buzzing. Ear plugs in. I could feel that direction more than hear it. I choked off the saw and walked around a building to cut the noise of the dozer. I thought, “If this phone call leads to something signficant I will not forget it”. I found a quiet place.

Work Interrupted

“David Winter?”, It was a teaming partner. “Yes, can I help you? I said”. “David, there is an opportunity coming out of the Air Force Reserve I think we need to look at. But it is due in three weeks and you’ll have to come to Washington DC in a few days and help write it”. I had site work to do. Leaving could delay the project. But I had been praying for an open door to grow federal contract work. Should I leave existing work and chase this?

I have worked for years in mundane workplaces. Years where my desk was the only terrain I’d see. It was my own choosing. A life of comfort is easier than a life of faith. But moving to Florida from Wisconsin did not allow complacency. I had an office to build, staff to hire, and clients to gain. I needed help to create a backlog of projects from nothing.

Created to Follow

The Lord whispers in Jeremiah 10:23 an ability we do not have:

I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man to direct his steps.

But if it’s not within us to know direction do we give up and go back to complacency? No, although it would be easier. He promises instead to be our guide as we follow Him. If we follow what we cannot see then we have faith. Then doors are opened for us. Doors we cannot see. In this story above, I did leave the job site, go to Washington, and write the proposal. After 6 months we were notified that a new door was opened; we won a $25M contract. It was the first large design-build contract win for me. But most meaningful was the way in which the Lord directed me to it. The opportunity was just not on my radar.

3 Steps to Clearly Hear

Our hearing can be seasonal. Great instruction followed by silence. What happens if you are off route? Turn and believe. When I need to hear clearly again I do these things:

  1. Pray Every Morning: a friend once said this to me, “You will never hear and follow the rhythm of the Holy Spirit in your life unless you pray regularly”.
  2. Read the Word Every Morning: reading the Bible cleans our spirit and mind and prepares them to receive.
  3. Talk with Him Every Day: speak and meditate to the Lord. He likes to jump into these conversations.

Have fun this week hearing from the Lord, you may just see His smile as you follow Him.

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