I ended the last article by saying, “It comes back to whether we really are trusting God to have the full control over our lives or not.” This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the Christian way of life for many believers today. Our western culture has taught us how to be “independent”, “self-sufficient” and “successful”, which has at its core the fundamental belief that we can accomplish anything we want to in our own strength if we will put our minds to it.
The problem with this is that we usually leave God out of the situation, until something goes terribly wrong and then we look to God to “fix it”. No wonder people today are over-worked, stressed out and living with high levels of anxiety, and/or guilt. Mankind has never been able to control the world around him. That was certainly true in past centuries, but even in our modern day we can never be fully prepared for the sudden loss of a loved one through death, an abrupt change in our economy, a fractured relationship with someone else we care about, or a myriad of other crises that can hit us at any time.
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It’s at this very point that we ought to be turning to God. But this doesn’t mean that we are to look to God like He is a giant ‘band-aid” who treats our “owwies” when we feel hurt, or a genie in a bottle that will do anything we ask of him when we rub His magic lamp. No, we are to come to God and trust that He really is the Author of all we can see, and that just as He takes good care to hold the Universe together, we trust that we can put our lives in His hands, and He will watch over our lives as well.
So when I feel discouraged in life and wonder what it is that I am doing now and what it is that I’m supposed to be doing, I remember the words of Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Many Christians know this verse and understand that it is as we read the Bible and come to be more familiar with God’s Word that God will help to direct us in our daily lives. That is exactly right, but there is so much more in this verse.
I’ve had the privilege to work for five years in a remote jungle area of Papua New Guinea. It was during these years that I really truly understood the words of Psalm 119:05. There were a number of times that I had to walk down a jungle trail after sunset and only had a small kerosene oil lamp or a weak flashlight to light the path in front of me. I literally could only see a few feet ahead of me, and even less could I see behind me.
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Try to imagine what that is like for a minute. You are absolutely and totally surrounded by pitch black darkness. If we put our lights or lamps out, I could not see my own hand even if I put it in front of my face. So that small amount of light from my oil lamp or my mostly dead battery flashlight was my only hope for finding the path forward to take me back to my home village.
Now I could have let my fear of the dark, that fear of the unknown beyond my little cone of light, immobilize me there and stop me dead in my tracks. All I really knew was that it was safe for about three feet in front of me. I believed though, that there was a safe passage out there in that darkness ahead, even though I could not see it. So what did I do? I took one step forward.
And guess what I saw? As I took a step forward, I was able to see a couple more feet in front of me. It wasn’t much, but it was just enough to keep me safe from making a step in the wrong direction. And every time I kept taking one step forward, I saw more of the path in front of me and the closer I knew I would be to my destination.
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That I believe is how we are to manage the decisions in our lives. We are not God, and will never be able to see the “whole picture”. But we almost always know and can see just enough ahead, that we can dare to take a step forward in one direction. Psalm 119:105 tells us that it is God’s Word that will help reveal to us what steps and what direction to take.
Therefore, it is an act of faith for us to put our lives into God’s hands, trusting that He will guide us step-by-step that will help us to overcome the obstacles of life and to find the direction we need as we make our choices in life. But remember too, that it is as we read and study God’s Word that we can best get our bearings in life and be steered clearly in making good and wise choices.
In further articles, I would like to share with you some of the decisions and cross-roads that I encountered as I grew up. I can’t say that I always made the best decision. But no decision can sometimes be worse than a bad decision. At least we can try to learn something after making a bad decision. Keep reading these articles then and see how my faith in God and my life decisions all turned out. See you in the next article of this series.