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Direction In Life Is Often Unclear...Don't Let That Stop Your Next Steps

Direction In Life Is Often Unclear

Direction in life is often unclear. I’ve often thought life would be easier if we had a full travel itinerary for life from God. Many have experienced a time when they needed direction in life. Perhaps you are in one of those times in your life now. Life often requires difficult decisions. Major decisions would be easier if God gave us a full set of details telling us every move we should make.

You can’t wait until you are 100% certain you are making the right decisions. Martin Luther King said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when we don’t see the whole staircase.” Often, God does not give us all the details. Too many people today are waiting for a sign or confirmation from God that their decisions are the right ones. Sometimes people say things to God such as, “God if you will cause this to happen, then I’ll know it’s you!” Have you ever played that game with God? This type of thinking has kept many from allowing God to lead them. They want God to post a sign on a billboard telling them what to do!

Trust God To Direct Your Steps

Direction in life is all about trusting God. If you trust in God and commit yourself to him, he will lead you step by step. You must take the first step. Often, people want God to drop a detailed travel itinerary for life’s journey in their lap. Think about your last flight itinerary. Your flight itinerary told you everything about your flight departure time, when and where it would stop, and the arrival time at your destination. That works for airline travel; it doesn’t work in life. You don’t get advance details about your journey through life.

In the 12th chapter of Genesis a story is found about a man named Abram, who God would later name Abraham. Abram was living in a place called Haran. God spoke to Abram and said, “I want you to move on from here.” Take a look at the story in Genesis chapter 12.

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.’ So, Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot (Abram’s nephew), went with him.” (Genesis 12:1-4, New Living Translation)

Direction In Life Doesn’t Include A Travel Itinerary

I see nowhere in the story that indicates that God told Abram where he was going. God only told Abram that He would show him. Abram didn’t wait for a travel itinerary. It took faith by Abram to begin a journey, not knowing where his final destination would be. This journey changed his life and affected generations of people after him. A scripture in the Hebrews refers to this episode in Abram’s life. Hebrews 11:8 says, “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” (New Living Translation)

Sometimes God directs people to begin a new chapter in their life, but He doesn’t reveal all the details. God gives us information about his plans for our life in tiny bits and pieces.   

I can somewhat relate to how Abram must have felt. In 2012, my wife Janet and I had a life changing and faith testing event occur in our lives. It involved a situation where God was directing our paths, but didn’t give us as many of the details as we would have liked.

Our Direction In Life Led Us To Burundi

In the spring and early summer of 2012, Janet and I spent hours upon hours planning and coordinating our first mission trip. It was during August of that year we traveled from our home in St. Louis to a village in the rural mountains of Burundi, Africa. During that year, we were partnered with a missionary organization we had been introduced to through the church we were attending. The missionary organization ministered to the needs of orphaned and abandoned children in the village of Bukeye, Burundi.

Just for a quick geography lesson, Burundi is a tiny landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Rwanda to the North, Tanzania to the East and South, and The Democratic Republic of The Congo to the West. At the time of our visit, it ranked as the fifth poorest country in the world. It is on the list of fourth world countries. Before planning our trip, I had never heard of a fourth world country. Fourth world countries are the absolute poorest and least developed countries in the world.

Planning Our Trip To A Place We Never Imagined Visiting

Planning and preparing for our trip was stressful. We already had passports, but still needed travel visas, a written invitation from a sponsor within the country, emergency medical evacuation insurance, and immunizations for everything imaginable. We had to get hepatitis A shots, hepatitis B shots, tetanus shots, polio boosters, yellow fever shots, typhoid shots, and prescriptions for Malarone; an anti-malaria medication to take while we were there. By the time we finished getting the required shots, we were overwhelmed.

Two weeks before we were scheduled to fly to Burundi, something strange happened. On a Sunday morning while sitting in a worship service at the church where we were members, God spoke something to Janet that neither of us could have expected. It was a brief and distinct message from God to us we found alarming. Janet did not disclose what God had spoken to her until we walked out of church that morning. When we got into the car, Janet looked stunned. Janet said, “While we were in church, God told me I wasn’t coming back.”

I can’t remember what my first response was, but I was in a moment of shock. We had just spent the last several months doing extensive research on the land that God was calling us to visit. We had prayed and fasted for favor and had gone through loads of red tape to be cleared to travel to Burundi. Getting this message from God now was unexpected. The words that God spoke to Janet left us both dazed and confused.

Direction In Life For Us Started Getting Scary

In the following days, because of the message from God, we made a quick decision. We both hastily prepared a last will and testament document and had it notarized. Based on what we had heard from God, we didn’t know whether either one of us would come back from Burundi. The worst-case scenarios flooded through our minds like a tidal wave. It might have been those thoughts that motivated us to buy emergency medical evacuation insurance. Despite God’s strange message, we knew without a doubt God was calling us to spend nine days in the mountains of Burundi.

When the day to leave for Burundi finally arrived, we both felt a mixed variety of emotions. We were excited about experiencing our first mission trip. It allowed us to see a land and culture we had only read about for so long. Yet, there continued to be echoing reminders of what God had spoken to Janet, and those reminders brought us waves of uncertainty and fears of the unknown.

The journey to Burundi was a long and exhausting trip. Because of a 23 hour layover between connecting flights, we had to fly to Washington D.C. and spend the night. The next morning we boarded a plane to fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had completely underestimated how tired we would be after spending 17 hours on a plane! After landing in Ethiopia, we boarded another plane for a 4 hour flight to Kigali, Rwanda. Finally, from Rwanda, we took a short commuter flight into Bujumbura, Burundi.

Our Arrival In A Place Far From Home And Our Comfort Zone

When we arrived in Burundi where we would spend the next nine days, we were awestruck. We realized every mental image we had about Burundi was wrong. We had a preconceived idea Burundi would be a dry desert wasteland. It is quite the contrary. Burundi is a very mountainous country with beautiful rolling hills and lush vegetation. It is home to one of the largest and deepest fresh-water lakes in the world; Lake Tanganyika. Burundi is a beautiful country, but we also saw the heartbreaking side of Burundi. The level of poverty around us was intense. It was far worse than we could have imagined.

The missionary organization we were visiting in Burundi had built a children’s village that included family based housing for orphaned and abandoned children. Plans were also in place to build a medical clinic in the children’s village. Our time spent in Burundi proved to be a life changing experience for us. Janet and I ministered to the children and helped do landscaping around the children’s homes. We had daily reminders that God’s love and presence is everywhere throughout the world; not just in the local church back home.  

Returning Home To Digest Our Experiences

When we returned home, we were physically and emotionally depleted. We were still trying to digest and comprehend everything we had seen and done. I remember the first church service we attended at our church after returning home. That service felt strange and uncomfortable. It felt as if we were complete strangers in our own church. At first, we reasoned that we were both still exhausted from our trip, so we passed it off as nothing. The feelings of disconnection continued over the following month, but we weren’t sure why.

During the following weeks, we had been discussing possible church Pastors we could contact about coming to their churches to speak as spokesmen in behalf of the missionary organization. One Sunday morning as I was lying in bed watching television in our bedroom, I caught a segment of a local church broadcast. This church was roughly 25 minutes from where we live. As I continued to watch the program, an attractive dark-haired woman came into the picture on the screen. She gave announcements about things taking place at their church. I called Janet into the room and told her, “I know this lady! I went to high school with her! We should go to that church to see if we can talk to her about our mission efforts in Burundi!” Janet agreed it was a good idea.

Direction In Life Led Us To A New Church

On the following Wednesday evening, we drove to visit the church we had seen on television that past Sunday morning. I still remember the exact date of our visit to the church. It was Wednesday October 10, 2012. As fate would have it, the former high school friend I had seen on the church broadcast was not at church that night. We stayed for the entire church service and loved the music, the sermon, and every other aspect of the church service.

After leaving and getting into our car, we looked at each other and read each other’s minds. We had just experienced one of the most refreshing church services either of us had ever seen. What we received that night in church was ointment on our wounds. We discussed our experience that night and realized God had orchestrated and ordained our visit to the church. We knew we had found our new church home! Suddenly, we had a light bulb moment when what God had spoken to Janet weeks earlier made sense to us. We realized God was telling Janet she wasn’t coming back to the church we had been attending.

The Lesson We Learned

Even though we tried to continue attending our former church, our hearts and minds were disengaged from the atmosphere in the church. We were trying to continue to make ourselves a part of somewhere we no longer belonged! We made the church we visited our new church home. Looking back we both have to laugh. God could have been a little more specific when he told Janet, “You’re not coming back.” This proved to be a lesson to us that sometimes God will speak to you and be directing your steps, but he doesn’t give you all the details. He is waiting for you to take a step of faith, and when you do, he will make his plan clear to you.

Is God Leading You Into A New Direction In Life?

Now the question for you to consider is simple. Are you in a place in life where you feel God is leading you in a different direction? Just as in the situations with Abram, or with Janet and me, perhaps God is saying to you, “It’s time to step out. Don’t lean on your own understanding. Trust me.” The thoughts and dreams that keep you awake at night aren’t accidental. God speaks in a still small voice. He gives us small details at a time. He doesn’t give us the whole travel itinerary.

If you want to reach your full potential and have a sense purpose for your life, sometimes you have to just get up and go. You can’t sit and wait for God to drop a sign out of the sky. People often struggle through life trying to find true fulfillment and purpose. It is impossible to discover your true calling or purpose until you get up and get busy doing something! Volunteer at a hospital or a community shelter. Go on a mission trip. Start the business you have dreamed of or write that book that has been burning within you! Perhaps you should teach that class you have been considering teaching at church. Why are you waiting?

Trusting God For Direction In Life

When you trust God to lead you and take a step of faith, you will find your true purpose! You don’t have to wait for a written message from God in the sky! In Psalm chapter 37 it says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37-23-24, New Living Translation)

This tells us God will direct our steps if we let him. He may not tell us our final destination, or give us a detailed travel itinerary right from the start, but He will guide us step by step. We have to start somewhere. God has a distinct plan and a purpose for your life. Step out in faith and God will fill you in little by little about what his plan is for you. Don’t make the mistake of wasting years of your life waiting for God to give you a detailed travel itinerary.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mark

Direction In Life Is Often Unclear…Don’t Let That Stop Your Next Steps
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