Step by Step

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Although I consider myself fairly young, I’m not necessarily in touch with the latest technology.  I’ve heard the iPhone has a great calendar, but I still prefer to have one hanging on the wall that can be cross-referenced with my pocket-size planner.  And as helpful as turn-by-turn navigation systems can be, I still print out a copy of directions whenever I’m traveling an unfamiliar route.

The reason for this is simple – I like seeing the whole journey, not just the next step.  I’m comfortable with printed directions because I can prepare for more than just the next turn.  I can be ready for the turn after the turn.  While these details are accessible on a GPS, the appeal of current navigation systems is the availability of dictated instructions as you go.  “In 500 feet, turn left.”  “Your destination is on the right.”

In life, though, it’s not always possible to see the whole journey.  More often than not, God leads us one step at a time.  Take Abram (later called Abraham) for example.  Genesis 12 opens with God’s command of Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).  The following verses provide no more details for Abram’s journey.  What will he do without knowing all the specifics?  Verse 4 says, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.”

Commenting on this display of trust, the writer of Hebrews says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).  I could have a panic attack just thinking about it.  Where am I supposed to go?  How long will this take?  What should I bring with me?  How will I know I’ve arrived?  What if I get lost?  Are we stopping for food?  You get the idea.

I’ve already mentioned what Abram didn’t have – he didn’t have all the details.  But it’s important to note what he did have – he had a call, and he had the promises of God.  God’s will for Abram was unmistakably clear: Go to the land I will show you.  Nestled in Genesis 12 between the moment of God’s call and the first step Abram took in obedience is a series of promises.  God said repeatedly, “I will…I will…I will…I will…”  In other words, Abram was to respond in obedience to God’s call by following Him step-by-step, trusting that He would be faithful to His promises.

How could Abram follow God without knowing where he was being led?  Simple.  Because he trusted the character and the Word of the One leading him. 

As God works in our lives, we don’t often see more than one piece of the puzzle at a time.  We know He’s doing something grand, but we see only a small glimpse of it.  We think we’d prefer to see the step-by-step instructions in advance, but the reality is we could never get our minds around the magnitude of God’s plans, and it would rob us of the opportunity to watch our Guide prove His faithfulness (Isaiah 55:8-9).  We may not always know where God is leading us, but can be confident that He is leading us.

You and I don’t usually have the option of affirming our trust in God and then receiving the world’s most thorough travel itinerary.  Instead, we are called to display our trust in His character and Word each leg of the journey.  When He calls us to turn down a windy, unfamiliar path, we turn, confident that He’s a reliable Guide.  When He calls us to stay on a road longer than we anticipated, we stay, convinced that He directs us in perfect timing.  When He calls us to take the scenic route, we take it, thankful that He provides beauty along the way.

If, like Abram, we respond in faith-fueled obedience to the call of God, we too will find that our Guide never leads us wrong.  In the words of Oswald Chambers, “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”

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