I'm at a crossroad in my life. Well, not so much a crossroad as a fork in the road. Down one path I can travel along, sure of my way cause the road is clear. Down the other – the narrower, dimly lit, twisting trail – I have to step forth, hoping I don't trip over the undergrowth or fall down a pot hole. And I'm pretty sure God is pointing me toward the latter. Yet, as much as I long to obey, my head and my heart are riddled with fear.
I had prayed, “Lord, show me Your will. I will obey.” And now, when I'm being shown the direction I should take, I don't want to obey anymore. I'm crying, because this road is going to be harder and so much more difficult than I had ever bargained for. I'm resisting, because suddenly God's will doesn't seem so good anymore. And I'm desperately looking for a loophole, because I'm afraid that the future is going to be a constant battlefield.
Have you ever been there – staring at the path diverging in front of you, considering your options and realising, with a sinking heart, that the adventure you were so longing for as a teenager, has finally come knocking and you aren't mentally, emotionally, physically or even spiritually prepared? I'm there right now and I've been struggling with fear, faithlessness, and a plenty of vividly-imagined, beautifully-detailed, worst-case-scenarios. A pet joke of mine is the prayer: “Ok, Lord. I'll obey, but I'm going to start hoping for the Second Coming this minute!”
Though I'm still struggling with this, there have been a couple of insights I gained and I'd like to share them with you. Perhaps they may help you as they have helped me. The following is an except from “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis. Written by a senior devil to a junior devil on how to keep a Christian from growing, it has some uncanny, discerning truths. This one hit the nail right on the head:
“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy [God]. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them. Your patient will have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy's will. What the Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him – the present anxiety and suspense . . . It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only of the things he is afraid of.
"Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practice fortitude and patience to them in advance. For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates is almost impossible . . . resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier.”
The simplicity of that truth cut through all the haze and confusion that had been clouding my mind. I have a cross to bear at this moment. Instead of dealing with that, I'd been peering down the road ahead and worrying about pitfalls there, and that had kept me from truly seeking God and understanding His desire and will.
Going a step further, Amy Carmichael in her devotional “Thou Givest They Gather” expands on Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without complaining and disputing.” She writes,
“If, when something has to be done which I do not like to do, I stop to argue about it, to wonder why I need do it, to wish I need not do it, in short, to complain and dispute about it, then [God] says, 'Your thoughts and your intentions are set on pleasing yourself, not your Heavenly Master,' . . . If anyone of us has unconsciously slipped into this deadly habit, there is only one thing to be done if we are Christians at all and that is to stop it. 'Let him that stole steal no more,' not 'let him steal a little less every day till he conquers the habit,' but cut it off at once. And so it is here. Let him who argued argue no more but obey. Obey is one of the sovereign words of the Bible. 'Do all things without complaining and disputing.' 'I cannot,' does anyone say? I can. 'I can do all things' - even this - 'through Christ who strengthens me.'”
So here I am at the fork in the road and I'm seeking clarity for the direction to take. And if He nudges me down the road less travelled, I pray that He will give me the grace to accept His will and obey joyfully.
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