You know how some people have a word for the year? Joy, peace, faithfulness, ect. Well, if I had to pick a word for 2019, so far, it would be “lost”. I have been wandering around like a lost and broken little sheep…and all the while, I’ve been bleating out, “Lord, what do you want us to do?”
In fact, several nights ago I found myself Googling “What should we do next”. It seems like we get some direction and then that just blows up in our faces. Everything just seems to be going wrong and I am feeling lost. I feel like we’re in a season of Selah. It’s not really waiting…it’s not really a season of abundance…not a season of drought. We’re just pausing and reflecting before we move forward.
I feel like what we do next in life is huge. But, what do we do next? We have no real direction. I’ve prayed nearly every single day for the last months and months, “Please give us peace and show us what to do next”. And, I don’t hear anything back. I am starting to feel broken…I carry around this deep sorrow and life is starting to feel like it’s going absolutely nowhere.
Recently, in my hopelessness, I reached out to my church family and asked for prayer. And, you know what God did? He encouraged my soul. I sit here as I type this with tears in my eyes because of what God had for me that day.
When You Don’t Know What Steps to Take Next
There are times in your life when you’ll pray and pray and pray for open doors and for clear direction and there won’t be anything. What do you do then? The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:6, “In all thy ways think on him, and he will direct thy steps” and in Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
In these times, when we don’t hear any clear direction, you just need to start taking steps.
God will open up the way
After I reached out to my church family that day, God put that story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River on my mind. The Israelites had just finished wandering for 40 years and they were about to enter the land God had promised them…they were almost ready to enter into what God had for them, what He had promised them…But, I went back and read the story and something stood out to me that day. Something I hadn’t really thought about before. God told the priests to go stand in the water and then God would part the waters so they could walk across on dry ground.
They first had to get in the water before God would open up the path for them to take.
God didn’t tell them to go dip their toe in or even step a foot in. No, He told them, “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river” (Joshua 3:8b NIV)
Now, something you should probably know about the Israelites is that even to this very day, they are absolutely terrified of water. Also, what stood out to me that day as I read this is that in verse 15 it tells us that the Jordan was at flood stage during this time. I looked up what the Jordan looks like at flood stage and man it’s like a mighty, raging Mississippi!
If I was one of those priests, I would be staring at that raging river thinking, “For reals, God? You want us to stand in THAT?!” Let’s not forget that the Jewish people are afraid of water. It’s one thing to go stand in the river when it’s at normal capacity, but when the river is engorged and ginormous trees are rapidly being swept downstream, well that’s another thing!
God wants you to start walking into the river
I realized that day, as I read this, that God wanted us to start walking into what seemed terrifying. And, then and only then, would He make the path clear for us.
You see, my husband lost his job months ago and we started to question if he should even stay in his current field of work. In fact, everyone around us was telling us that he needed to get out of sales. We looked at many different things. He was going to go to coding school so he could become a developer. We looked at him becoming a police officer, a border patrol agent, and even a truck driver! We looked into so many things and we were begging God to show us what to do next. But, the day I read this, I knew God wanted us to do the most terrifying option and that was for him to stay in his current field.
We just started taking the steps into the river and I knew eventually God would open up the path and we would walk across on dry land….into what He had waiting for us on the other side.
When you start to doubt
It’s been 3 months since God has shown me this and there have definitely been doubts along the way. My husband has had interview after interview after interview and nothing seems to be working out. But, I know God will open up the path. We have started walking into the Jordan and I know He will come through.
Each time I start to doubt, “Is this really what God wants us to do?” “Maybe I am just making stuff up and over spiritualizing everything and we really are supposed to be doing something else”….each time I start to have these thoughts, I think about how much doubt the Israelites must have had. Joshua went through the camp and declared to them, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5b NIV). The people had already been camping at the edge of the river for 3 days listening to the mighty river and I wonder if they laid in bed that night after Joshua told them those words, listening to the river some more and how they must have doubted.
I grew up out in the middle of nowhere in a house next to a tranquil little creek. But, we had a few floods when that little creek would get so full of water, it would flow up, rushing over the bridges and toss these giant boulders downstream as if they were little pebbles. I remember lying in bed at night, listening to that raging creek. You could hear the power of the water as it lodged entire tree trunks into the 6×12’s of that bridge.
I picture that but a much greater scale as raging, swollen river rushed by in all its fury. Oh, how the Israelites must have laid in bed that night, listening to that power and thinking to themselves, “Tomorrow, we have to go stand in that and only when we go stand in it, God is supposedly going to stop the river”. What soothed their minds? What squelched their doubts? They probably chose to dwell on God’s words to them just hours before, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5b NIV)
When you start to doubt, return your focus to Him and His promises for you.
Does God make the path clear right away?
God did open up dry ground right away as soon as the priests stepped foot into the Jordan. They didn’t even have to go any further…they just had to start walking forward into it and as soon as their foot hit the water then God made the path clear.
“…Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan,while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lordstopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:15b-17 NIV)
For some of us, God might just make the path clear for you as soon as your foot touches that water. For others, it might be a few weeks. And, for many of us, it might be months or even longer. When this happens, don’t give up. Don’t give up on that miracle just minutes before it happens.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 ESV
So, what should you do?
If you’re waiting around for direction…if you feel lost and don’t know where to go…then, maybe it’s time you take a look at that raging river of doubt and you step right in cause, “…tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”