Have you ever found yourself stumbling through the dark in the middle of the night? Whether it’s to calm a crying child or to find your way to the bathroom, we’ve all had the experience of feeling disoriented and frustrated trying to navigate through a dark place. Arms outstretched, we feel our way through the dark for something familiar. We hope our eyes adjust while we look for some sort of light. And then it happens. We run into an unexpected wall or we choose a path we were sure was the right way only to find out it didn’t lead us where we expected to go. (Or if you’re a parent like me you might step barefoot on a Lego leading to foul language you didn’t think you were capable of saying.)
In our faith sometimes we wander through what feels like a dark room. I confess that I am in this season now. It is frustrating. It feels like I’m searching intensely for the light, His light, but I just can’t seem to find it. I’m stumbling through dark hallways, running into walls and stepping on legos (ouch!). I have a strong desire to follow God but I don’t know what that looks like for me. I also am afraid that I’ll get it wrong, that I’ll fail somehow. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be obedient to God, to follow Christ and the plans He has for my life. It seems the more I focus on this the more I feel like I’m wandering. And I really hate the uncertainty of not knowing where I’m supposed to go.
Proverbs 14: 12 says “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” How am I supposed to know which way to go when some ways “appear to be right?” How will I choose the correct path?
I’ve been praying about this, although I confess that I’m not praying as often as I should. When I sat down to write about it I asked God to give me the words because I told him I’m at a loss as to what obedience to Him really looks like. After all, I have no idea if I’m really living in obedience to Him even as I type this. I still haven’t received my confirmation in the mail that states, “Congratulations, you have achieved an acceptable level of obedience as a Christian. Almighty God is very proud of you! Please proceed with following His plan which is outlined in detail below.”
I really do wish it was that simple! That sounds nice because it would be something tangible I could hold onto. I would most likely hang it on my wall as a trophy of my holy achievement. Look at me! I’m obedient! Now I’m going to follow His detailed plan with all my might!
It just reeks of pride doesn’t it?
Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong place. Maybe obedience isn’t found in the demonstration of my appropriate and holy behavior. Maybe it’s actually found in the condition of my heart; all of our hearts as Believers. I’m starting to wonder if God really just wants my heart to be so utterly tired of the darkness that I look only to Him for the light. Maybe He wants me to feel so helpless in the face of uncertainty that I desperately hold tight to Him. Could it be that when I step on the Legos in life and I feel the sharp surprise of pain that He desires me to call out to Him for the direction of my every step?
Doesn’t it make sense that I will naturally obey God if the condition of my heart is in a place of total dependence on Him? Yes, true obedience. I find it in the wandering and waiting and thirsting for Him. I find it in the desperation and uncertainty. I find it in the perseverance despite my doubt and questioning.
It all starts with the condition of my heart.
And doesn’t this make sense when you think of all that Jesus taught? When he spoke about adultery and lust, he referred to the heart. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5: 28) It was not only about the act of adultery but about the condition of the heart which leads to disobedience.
My prayer in seeking to obey God is that I seek to make Him my treasure and trust that God will lead me down the right path. Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So to those of you who are wandering and struggling to find your way. Embrace the wandering, seek to make Him your treasure and obedience will follow.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.” Psalm 32: 8-10
A Repost from My Journey of Faith Magazine