When we look at successful people we often mistakenly assume that their ascent to the top was a straight line forever going in the direction they planned. In reality we know there was probably a lot of doubts, questions, twists, turns, backsliding, etc. Rarely, if ever, do we see a direct shot from Point A to Point B in anything. But in our fantasy world, sometimes things just go exactly according to the plans we made. I'm quite sure this logic makes God face palm a lot.
When I read Psalm 5 yesterday, the last segment of verse 8 sounded similar to Proverbs 3:6 because both talk about straight paths. In our minds, I think we assume that a straight path is like a direct shot. Nothing more than a distinct, clearly defined starting and ending point with no obstacles, no detours, and no distractions.
However, if we look at the Israelites in the desert, we can easily see that our logic is pretty faulty. The Lord was most definitely directing their path but it was far from straight. As a matter of fact, He took the long way home.
And I think this trips us up. If we don't get to our intended destination, we assume we must have heard incorrectly, then we doubt God's leadership, we begin to question His logic, and then figure we must recalculate our route just like the GPS does when we miss a turn.
But experience has taught me something different. Sometimes what seems like an error on my part or an inability to follow directions, is like an extended stay at a rest stop. Sometimes there's something we need to get for the rest of the journey in order to arrive safely at our destination because something is on the road ahead that we aren't quite prepared for yet.
This is what makes the beginning of this Psalms so fitting.
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to You
and watch expectantly.
The question is, are we expecting God to move and direct the way, or are we expecting Him to do what we think He should?
A little while ago I shared my thoughts on James words about faith without action being dead. (You can read that post here.) And I wonder if there is even more to it.
A lot of times I think I pray to God knowing He hears my voice and then figure I am watching expectantly for Him to move. Except I'm really not. It's more like I talk to Him about it, pray minimally, do the best I can, and then wish, not hope, He comes in with 'the more, the extra, the overflow'.
I agree that faith without action is dead because it is rooted in fear and a lack of trust. But I also wonder if faith without the action of waiting and being still is also dead because it shows a lack of trust and belief that God will move on our behalf. I can't help but wonder if a straight path doesn't necessarily mean constant motion but rather movement always going towards God's purpose.
The reality is it's hard to know with absolute 100% certainty that we are doing the right thing. Not because we can't hear God's voice but because He doesn't ever seem to want to give us His blueprint. And while that might be really frustrating to us control freaks, I think He does it because He wants to build our faith, our confidence in Him, and because He likes to wow us with the things we can't even imagine.
As tempting as it is to believe straight non-stop paths exist, we really wouldn't want them if we had them because they'd be predictable and boring. But, even if we don't get them in the journey that God has laid out for us, we can be assured that all the twists and turns are still leading us to the safest place we'll ever know: His hands.