We drove to the beach a few weeks ago. It’s a drive I’ve made hundreds of times. Maybe more. (I’d try to do the math, but we all know I can’t.)
There is a way to get there that’s pretty much a straight shot. Get on one road main road and take it about 90% of the drive. But that’s not the way we go.
We cut through cow fields and corn fields. We drive past adorable little dairies and abandoned farms and thriving farms. We see farmers markets. We go through one stoplight towns and no stoplight towns and take roads so far off the beaten path there are no lines.
I’ve made the drive my whole life. Husband inherited the drive when he decided he loved the girl who liked the beach best of all.
We left late so that (theoretically) the kids would sleep in the car. So it was dark out. Which shouldn’t have been a big deal. And I didn’t wear my contacts. Which also shouldn’t have been a big deal. And I didn’t bring my glasses.
None of which should have been an issue except that after a bit into the drive, husband said, “You’re going to have to navigate. I can’t remember how to get there.”
I stared at him blankly for a bit.
After we hashed out the, “It’s dark and I don’t have glasses or contacts and there are a million turns and just as many cornfields and how do you not know how to get there?” I did what any person with no other option would do; I did my best.
We quite literally put to test the phrase, “I could get there with my eyes closed.”
Good news: we made it. And I don’t think we made any wrong turns. (If we did. I didn’t see them.) And what struck me as we pulled into my parents beach house, was that I was able to take cues from things I can’t see. I was able to take cues from things I never would have known were etched in my mind. There is the obvious “Walk by faith not by sight” analogy but to me, it was more than I was surprised to be led by things that had never led me before.
I think the Lord has used that night as an analogy for my life the last couple months. Just because He’s not leading me how I’m familiar with, doesn’t mean He’s not leading. I fell into this pattern where I only trusted Him to lead a certain way. I was comfortable following that way, I didn’t have to trust any of my other senses, and in some ways I didn’t have to trust Him at all…I could just lean into what I was familiar with and call it a day.
Leading by feeling is bad theology. Following by feeling is bad theology. So please know that’s not where I’m going with this.
I’m not trying to make theology at all, as a matter of fact. I’m just trying to share the way it all hit me.
There is something interesting about following along without the use of your most relied upon instinct.
What if the Israelites had decided the Lord lead by parting the Red Sea, so they would only ever follow His lead if seas were parting.
Or if after the Lord had answered Gideon through the wet fleece, Gideon had only ever listened to the Lord when the Lord led by dew on fleece?
Or if after the Lord appeared in the whisper, Elijah only ever followed if the Lord was whispering?
If we have known Him one way and we wait exclusively for Him to make himself known in that exact way, we stand to miss a lot. If I don’t wake up daily in desperate anticipation of however He might see fit to guide me, I might miss Him altogether.
In His word we find that He leads by the pillar cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night, and by angels, and by finding ourselves in His shadow, and by walking when He makes the sun stand still. He parts seas, He sends donkey’s to talk and hands to write on walls. Sometimes His feathers lead us along and sometimes it’s His mighty right hand.
See, I think sometimes I treat the Lord like it is a character out of Hansel and Gretel, dropping breadcrumbs and just hoping I’m able to pick up His trail.
But I know Him better than that. I know He is more intentional that that. I know He is more purposeful than that.
As a parent of tiny humans, I feel like 90% of my day is experimental, and I don’t do well with experiments. But I’m still learning my tiny humans. I’m still learning how the Lord designed them and then therefore, how to best lead them. How to best encourage them, how to best love them, how to best discipline them.
And sometimes I think that shades my perception of the Lord. Like He is still trying to learn me, trying to learn how to best lead me.
But He knows me. Knows me. He knows me better than I know myself.
He knows how to best lead me. Knows exactly what I need the moment I need it. Knows what I will follow and when I will follow it. He knows when I need His feathers to brush me along, and when I need His mighty right hand to force an issue. He knows when I need something as jaw dropping as a hand writing on the wall to make His will clear. He knows what I am walking a Red Sea road and I desperately need Him to make a way where there wasn’t one before. He knows when I am waiting to hear His whisper and when I need Him to come thundering in.
He takes us by the hand and He holds us in His hand and He carries us, and He soars with us on eagles wings and quiets us with His love…He is there every step of the way.