“Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew (show) you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.”Deuteronomy 1:33
I have tried many times to apply what I thought and knew to the Bible, and I would try to prove the Bible wrong by my own thoughts and understanding. I thought I had done my own ample research, and I felt I was pretty knowledgeable in many things. I was 18 years old and at the apex of my life, so how could I be wrong? I thought I knew everything, but yet I could not understand why things were not working out for me in life and why I was so miserable. I thought I could live life on my own terms, and while I believed in God, my life did not show it in any way. I am sure many of us know 18-year-olds like this, and some might have been much like I was.
Several years later, Rebekah and I were returning home from our honeymoon when I got confused with the signage on the freeway. We did not have the benefit of phones with GPS, and Mapquest was not even a thing at that time. We pull out a folded map and looked at where we needed to go, but we were coming home from Vegas so I figured the signage would be enough to get us home. I was traveling along when it seemed to me we were going the wrong way, and Rebekah was sure of it as well. I had taken the wrong ramp and we have gone around 20 miles out of our way. True to the male stereotype, I continued on, hoping to find the right ramp that would take us to the place we needed to go. Most logical people would have turned around and gone the other way, but there really was not a good turnoff for us to use. We travelled another 10-15 minutes when I conceded we would be in another state entirely if I did not turn around.
I cut my losses and headed back the other way. Rebekah was not mad at me and she did not say “I told you so”, but I could almost hear the words coming out of her mouth. We got back to where we needed to be, and I finally took the right ramp to get us back home. I was so sure I was headed the right way the first time, that it costs us more than an hour to get back on track toward home. I would like to say that this was the only time I got lost and refused to ask for directions, but I will spare you the laborious details of my acts of ignorance. Although I have been physically lost at times, I have also been lost spiritually when I have sought my own way instead of following God’s clear direction.
God led the children of Israel with a cloud by day and a fire by night, and they did not move until He instructed them to do so. They did not lean to their own understanding, and they obeyed and moved only when He said so. We could learn much from the children of Israel in this, and move ahead only when God leads, and stay still when He does not lead us to move. We often think we know more than He does, and we want His plans to line up with ours instead of lining up our life with what He wants. I have come to the point in my life where the only way I know to be successful is to follow Him in all my ways. There is no joy, peace, or understanding outside of God. Like King Solomon, we can look all we want and come to the point where we realize a life without God is but vanity and is soon passed away. God knows the way we should go, and we ought never move until He leads us in His perfect direction.
Are you trying to live life your way? Are you leaning to your own understanding? Are you trying to force your plans over what God has said? Are you trying to make life work without God? How is that working for you? God is our shepherd and will lead us if we will follow Him. I have tried my own way, and each time, I always ended up lost. When I have chosen to follow God, He has proven to be faithful just as He promised He would be. Will you follow the direction He gives, or will you wander aimlessly on the road that leads you away from your destination? May we not trust in our understanding, and may we follow God with our whole heart.