A couple of weeks ago one of my daughters and niece and I were traveling to a church in another city nearby for a ministry project. As we set out, I secured the address off the registration page and entered it into Google Maps. However, I was 90% certain I knew exactly where this particular church was, having driven by it numerous times on a major through street. With navigation set, off we went. It was a short drive, only 30 miles or so. As we got off the interstate and began our way towards the church the navigation guidance kicked in. With each turn we took I kept telling the girls, ” I really don’t think this is the right way. I swear we should have just stayed on the major through street and it would have been off to our right.” The girls quickly responded with, ” Well, then just turn around. You are probably right.” I did not heed their instruction, nor the quiet voice in my head. We kept driving and sure enough wound up at a dead end, no church in sight. The voice of the navigation system, louder than the voice in my head, had won. I had continued on a course I knew was wrong, doubting myself, the quiet voice in my head.
We arrived at our destination, meeting up with a friend and her friend. I began telling them of our little “adventure”. The friend’s friend had also been on her own little “adventure”. She had chosen to follow our mutual friend who drives a white Jeep. She had stayed right behind her. Upon nearing the destination she had taken her eyes off our friend’s car for just a moment, but long enough for another white Jeep to come into sight. She too felt fairly certain she knew where the church was, but began following this other white Jeep. With each turn she realized she was nearing the local university and not the church. Yet, like me she continued on the faulty path.
As we shared stories and laughed about our foolishness I couldn’t help but think of spiritual lessons. So often we fail to heed God’s still small voice, the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Instead we allow the loud voices of the world to grab our attention and mislead us, all the while knowing it’s just not right. We also lose sight of God. So often we are on a course, a good course, His course, but get distracted by someone else’s course, or a bright shiny object that looks more appealing than the one set before us. A moment of distraction can lead us down a whole other path in life. We hear God, our conscience sets in and alerts us, but we lose confidence. We let doubt set in and can often kick off a snowball of emotions and mistakes.
On the way home the girls and I talked about our little “driving adventure”. The girls asked why I had kept following the navigation when I knew it was wrong. Tough question, but one that needed to be answered in this teachable moment for us all.
I had to admit to the girls that I had let doubt set in, and when the doubt set in everything I thought I knew came into question. We talked about how that happens to us in life. We read His word, we attend church to learn of His precepts, and then we enter the world and something else grabs our attention or someone else’s voice is louder than His. We doubt and in those moments of doubt we begin to question everything we know of God. That’s a dangerous place to be. Our adventure ended fine, no harm. Just a little late. However, in life, those doubts can lead us down paths that alter our course for life or bring about hurt that is hard to overcome.
I am so thankful I serve a God who longs to show me His ways, the path I should take. Psalm 33:11 tells us “the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purpose of his heart through all generations.” I can’t thwart God’s plans. I can chose to follow them, get off course and return, or ignore them. I will either be a part of His plans or lose the opportunity. Through free will He grants me choice. Life is so much better lived carrying out His plans, being a part of the blessing. I am so glad I serve a God of grace, who continually calls me to Himself, even when I get off course. He welcomes me back to His path when I repent and seek again to follow His ways. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21.
His purposes prevailed that day. We served Him packing food for third world countries. We worshiped Him in song and fellowship with friends. We learned and we grew as a result of those moments of doubt and our quick response to repent and get back on track. Nothing lost. Nothing wasted.
“Make plans by seeking advice.” Proverbs 20:18. Just remember that the advice of this world and Google maps can be wrong. You have access to the Shepherd. He will lead you in the path of righteousness. He’s always there to get you back on course. Seek Him. Seek Him first. Trust in His still small voice.