On a bright summer day in Syracuse, three eager frat boys came heaving up my front steps with a heavy couch. The new tenants were early for moving day, and I was late, still miffed at my housemates for bailing on me and our landlord six months earlier. I tossed my meager belongings into boxes and bins while Dad helped me load his Ford Aerostar for the drive home. At 25, my life was headed in reverse.
An exciting career in radio was dead-ending at a failing station; I didn’t make enough money to afford my own place, and I was unhappily without a girlfriend. There were things I wanted for my life that I didn’t know how to achieve. I wasn’t even sure they were worthy goals. And my heart ached from a myriad of desperately honest questions about the future. In prayer I told God I was willing to wait—“But could I at least know what I was waiting for?”
My children are in this season of life now. They feel the pressure of choosing a college, selecting a career, and measuring their personal goals against what’s practical, possible, and aligned with God’s will. In some ways, we never completely leave this season.
The days of my life have doubled since that move. Though I’d like to say I’ve learned to discern the future, I have not. But I am increasingly aware of God’s authority over life (Job 12:10), His rule over the day (Psalm 135:6), and I’ve learned to have confidence in His fully integrated plan (Prov. 16:9). I know that He leads. Our role is to trust Him, even with limited vision.
At 25, my life was headed in reverse.
In his sermon “Walking in the Favor of God,” Dr. Stanley says, “Trust is essential in our lives as we walk with the Lord. Without it, we’d be like a car without wheels going nowhere in life. If God gives us a command, He assumes the responsibility for providing the means for us to do it. If we always insist on having all our questions answered before we move forward, we never will.”
While I’ve never encountered a paved sidewalk lined with neon arrows and reading “WALK THIS WAY,” God’s unchanging Word reveals everything we need to know. And as I’ve followed Him in obedience—never perfectly, always failingly—I’ve discovered an ever-increasing awareness of His specific leading in my life. Three scriptures are particularly encouraging.
In Psalm 143:10, David says, “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” With a prayerful focus on Scripture, I try to empty myself of impatient worries and selfish ambitions and to see what God wants. This settles me on Christ, who never fails to fulfill my every need and is always making intercession for me before the Father. With this knowledge, I grow convinced that I’m being faithfully led somewhere—to a right way of thinking and acting and, ultimately, on a path of God’s own choosing.
“If we always insist on having all our questions answered before we move forward, we never will.”
As I rest in the Spirit’s guidance, my mind becomes increasingly centered upon God, which brings with it an incredible benefit described by Isaiah: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3 ESV).
And I am comforted in the fact that God knows and plans. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). My steps are being orchestrated so that they align with the fulfillment of God’s will for the church. If I’m centered on obeying the revealed will of God, I can be confident that I’m walking on that neon path, even if it’s invisible to me.
A year after I moved backward into my parents’ house, God plucked me up by the collar and dropped me in Fort Lauderdale. It was a change I desperately needed, and I couldn’t have been less involved in it. God moved invisibly to place me on the path He had planned, with new people He’s used to transform my thinking, a career opportunity that has brought years of joy, and a life partner through whom five children have been born, each in need of God’s steady hand to direct their steps. I pray they aren’t watching for neon signs, but for the clear revelation God has given generation after generation in His Word.
Illustrated by Adam Cruft