When All Signs Point to "I Have To"
I have a terrible internal compass. What I mean by that is I can barely figure out right from left, never mind north from south and east from west. I am that person who, when asked which way to turn, has to (stealthily) glance down at my hands and pretend I’m holding a pen to be reminded which hand is which. Then, and only then, can I confidently pronounce, “It’s a left at such and such street.” It’s a little embarrassing.
To combat my poor sense of direction, I’ve learned to identify certain landmarks to determine my location. For example, I can’t tell you the name of my best friend’s street, but what I can tell you is there is a fire hydrant directly before you have to turn right. If I can even in fact decipher in that moment which way is right!
I frequently get lost at the Phoenix airport. I can get around inside with few issues, but picking up and dropping people off is my nightmare. It’s a lot like the Bermuda Triangle for me. I can get in, but I can’t get out. My husband always says, “Just follow the signs. All you need to do is look for the sign marked I-10 West, and you are set.” For me, that’s far easier said than done. I have found myself halfway to Tucson more than a few times before I can trace my initial blunder back to that sharp right turn I missed attempting to exit the airport.
This is why we need signs. And if you’re me, not just one or two, but about ten, strategically placed along the route to ensure safe arrival at the end destination.
Can you identify?
It’s this way with life too, isn’t it? We need a lot of signposts if we are ever going to get where we want to go.
I took my four-year-old to a friend’s house the other day. We had never been there before, so everything was unfamiliar and therefore a bit intimidating for him. He had to go to the bathroom; what else is new? He bounded out in front of me headed to the facilities, but he only took a few steps before he paused, glanced over his shoulder, and asked, “This way?”
“Yes.” I pointed straight ahead.
His little feet took a few more steps and then, again: ”This way, right?”
“Yep,” I said, while thinking, Buddy, it’s only been a few more feet. Did you really think anything had changed?
Of course, I do that too.
“This way, right, Lord?”
“You did say I should quit this job and apply for another one, yes?”
“I know we just had this conversation about ten minutes ago, but could you just give me one more sign that this is the man I’m supposed to marry?”
When it comes to big and often daunting decisions, we often need not just one or two signs, we need ten, eleven . . . or fifty.
If only signs from God were as simple and straightforward as road signs. “Caution”: that relationship my cause more harm than good. “Watch for Children”: you are about to get pregnant. “Exit 183 [in] 1/4 mile”: there’s a new path to be traveled and it begins here.
It’s not always easy to decipher the voice of God in our lives. We don’t always understand our next steps with crystal clarity. So how can we know what we are supposed to do and where we are supposed to go? We desperately want to walk the right path, but what’s the right path?
This week, I want to examine some stories from the Scriptures that will give us insight. Of course, there is no one road map that will work for everyone. There are no hard and fast formulas. If there were, that would mean we are all robots under the control of a God operating by manipulation and not love.
The cliché-riddled statement is true: “hindsight is always twenty-twenty.” We may not always see our future with perfect focus. But we will be able to look back and clearly see the hand of God at work in our lives. And we can be absolutely sure of one thing: wherever God will lead us, it will be good.
The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree” (Psalm 19:7-9, MSG, emphasis mine).
I want a life pulled together by God, moving along the right road and headed toward joy. So let’s spend the next week trying to figure out how to do that.