When The Right Way Feels Like the Wrong Direction
We were so close yet so, so far. When I moved down to Fort Worth, my mom and I were navigating around a still unfamiliar city after dark trying to find our hotel. The directions were simple. And we found the road we were supposed to turn down. But there was one problem – instead of seeing the hotel, all we could see was a road-sign that said we were getting onto I-20. We’ve GOT to be missing something…we don’t want to get on I-20. These directions are wrong. After looping around a confusing intersection, we gave it a shot and turned down the service road…still can’t see the hotel. So we turn around to start over, thinking we missed the correct road. Nope…we’re right back at the I-20 service road. Finally, after much frustration, we trusted the directions, still unable to see where we were going. And there it was – our destination.
The funny thing was that we were right where we were supposed to be the entire time. But between the directions that didn’t seem to make sense and the fact that we couldn’t see beyond what was in front of us, we felt like we were going the wrong way.
The funny thing about being in unfamiliar territory is that sometimes the directions don’t make sense until you can look back and see where you were.
God’s Word is chock full of gutsy, adventurous women who probably felt like they didn’t know where they were going at the time. Before Ruth was the celebrated ancestor of King David she was an impoverished, widowed Gentile who left all that was familiar to stay with her mother-in-law (Ruth 4:18-22). Before Elizabeth gave birth to the son who would prepare a nation to meet its Messiah, she was infertile until her old age and lived in reproach (Luke 1:5-25). Before Abigail married into royalty she was stuck with a fool for a husband and had to intervene for their lives when he spoke rashly (1 Sam. 25). Before Priscilla met and traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys and spiritually nurtured the preacher, Apollos, she and her husband were displaced Jews that were kicked out of their Roman home (Acts. 18). And before she was revered for her obedience and known as the virgin mother of Jesus, Mary was a socially ostracized teenager few would believe (Luke 1).
These women were just like us. They had fears, uncertainties, and situations beyond their control. But they trusted God over their circumstances. They lived as though the “why” part of their story wasn’t as important as the “what” God did with it. They remind us that we may not understand why we’re being led in a certain direction until we can look back and see from where God brought us.
Sometimes, it’s really easy to get stuck in trying to figure out the will of God. We end up focusing on the destination we’re trying to find instead of simply moving in the direction we’re supposed to be going. We forget to zero in on what we already know is God’s will for us, like our sanctification and purity (1 Thess. 4:3-8), a heart of joy, prayer and thankfulness (1 Thess. 5:16-18), and a reputation for goodness that leaves unbelievers speechless (1 Pt 2:15). We miss the reality that the purpose of our lives know Christ and make Him known (Phil. 3:8, 2:9-11; 2 Pt 3:9).
It might sound simplistic, but lately I’ve been learning that following Jesus is more about the direction I’m headed in than the destination I’m headed for.
I don’t know what destination you’re trying to find, or all the dead-end roads you’ve taken while looking for it. But just around the corner of our fears, and just past the intersection of bitterness and indecision, is a road of peace. And that kind of peace only comes when the direction is set towards obedience. Isaiah 50:10 says it this way: “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” We may not understand exactly where we’re headed. We may not ever understand all of the “whys,” behind the direction we’re told to move. But if we’re faithful, we will see the “what” that God has accomplished in the middle of it.
Katie McCoy is the editor of BiblicalWoman.com and is pursuing a PhD in Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary. When she’s not reading for her classes (a rare occasion!), she loves hanging out with friends, eating sushi, learning new words and shopping with her mom. Connect with Katie on Facebook or Follow her Twitter!