Following God When He Leads from Behind

We have a new Christmas eve tradition of going ice skating with my sister and her family.  I can’t even begin to tell you how fun it is even though I’m still a bit wobbly.  I have great respect for Olympic athletes who make it look so easy!

The only bummer is this year I somehow managed to lose my gloves, the only gloves I have that aren’t heavy duty for biking.  So the day after Christmas wearing dress gloves I biked across town hoping to find my lost gloves turned in so I could get them back.  As the lady pulled out glove after glove from a huge box of things left behind, not one was mine.  Afterwards, I sat on the bench outside wondering, “Lord, why did that have to happen?  And why did I just waste all of this time coming over here?”  As I got back on my bike I decided to take a different way home.

Now on my trip to the ice rink I passed right by a used Christian bookstore and thought, “oooh!  I could stop there on the way back!”  but when I decided to head back a new way through town I figured that wasn’t going to happen.  But as I took one street after another – remember with the hills out here you can’t just go straight across town on one road! – can you believe I ended up on a street that dead ended right across from the bookstore?!  So being an off the charts bibliophile I went in!

Now I was pretty surprised that I ended up there so I asked the Lord as I entered, “Is there a book here you want me reading?  If so, would you please guide me to it!”  This is an amazing used book store loaded with books from floor to ceiling!  Every month they place a different section on sale with those books half off.  This month it was their “Christian Living” books so I decided to look in that section.  After pulling two possibilities off the shelves I looked down at a stack on the floor where a cover caught my attention, “Seven: The Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes” by Jeff Cook.  Sitting down on the floor I started to read the other two books first.  They were pretty light stuff – but when I opened Jeff Cook’s book I was blown away at how his words resonated in my soul.

Now I only had 15 minutes to be there as I didn’t bring bike lights so I  needed to get home before dark.  I grabbed the book by Jeff Cook – and have been reading it since, absolutely amazed at how the Lord has been meeting me there, even answering questions I’ve been asking Him!

What an incredible discipler the Lord is!  I am so amazed at how He guides, even when I haven’t a clue!  I thought I was biking across town to get gloves!

And you know even in those light books that I read a chapter from but didn’t buy the Lord also spoke to my heart.

In one I read a story about George Whitefield – how when his wife was pregnant he thought the Lord told him the baby was going to be a son who would follow in his footsteps as a great preacher and he boldly announced this to everyone.  But then the boy died a few months after birth and the author went on to talk about listening to God and said while we need to be careful and use caution when we think the Lord is speaking to us regarding something nonBiblical, we also don’t want to fall into the trap where we view following God as walking a tightrope – one misstep and you’re a goner!  We need to remember He is our shepherd and He is so able to catch us and help us if we make a wrong move while seeking to follow Him.

Has that image ever been resonating in my mind.  You see, if I think of following God as walking on a tightrope, I’m not going to want to take that next step until I’m absolutely certain God is telling me to – can that ever paralyze you!  And cause you to miss out!  As in the case of my bike riding and book finding – God doesn’t always lead us by telling us what the next step is.  Sometimes He directs us mysteriously as we’re moving!

As it says in Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the left or the right, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  Sometimes God leads from behind!  I find that takes far greater faith than waiting for a neon sign!

I realize I don’t know what I need to know, that God’s ways aren’t my ways and I want to live a life of total dependence on the Lord, but often I’m finding that means crying out to Him to guide me and trusting Him to do so without having to tell me each step in advance.

In fact, I’m finding the clearer His direction is, that usually means the situation is going to be a harder one and I’m going to need that clarity to get me through!  So I’m starting to learn to welcome those murky times, when I’m just not sure what to do, or why I’m doing what I’m doing – because just like with the gift of the book, I am always even more amazed to look back and see how His hand was at work guiding me when I didn’t have a clue!

He knows I’m like a two year old spiritually in my ability to discern His will.  The question isn’t, “Do I know the right way to go” but “have I declared my dependence asking Him to get me where I need to be even when I don’t know.”  And just like the Perfect Father He is, He’s got me covered!

One of my friends was accepted to two programs for grad school and wasn’t sure which one to take.  So she asked my advice and I said, “Go where you know you’ll have the best fellowship” which meant “come to the school I’m at!” So she did!  But it didn’t take long till she realized that program was not at all suited for her learning style. Two weeks in she was pulling her hair out, decided to contact the other program which started later, found out they hadn’t yet filled her spot so she switched schools and ended up exactly where the Lord wanted her!  And did he ever provide great fellowship too!

Do you see how God was at work in that?!  He doesn’t want us to walk in fear, afraid of taking the next step.  He really is an amazing shepherd!  Even if we go the wrong way, as long as our heart truly is seeking to follow Him, inviting His intervention, we can rest in Him, trusting Him that He will guide us and get us where we need to be.

What an amazing God He is!