Seeing God in the Rear View Mirror (Part 2)

You can find Part 1 here.

My story will be mixed in with this exploration of knowing God’s Will, as partly an explanation of how we ended up going to Japan for ministry, but also hopefully as an illustration to encourage you to continue to seek, follow and do God’s will in your own life.

Previously, we looked at Abraham to see that ultimately his faith that is praised in Hebrews 11 is based on his being able to see God’s leading and trust that direction at earlier steps in his life. Now I want to take a closer look at what Abraham could be reflecting on in his past that would give him cause to firmly trust God with his future. Without a doubt, what we see in the life of Abraham is God’s leading from his first mention in Genesis throughout his entire life. There is a constant thread that Abraham (and we as modern readers) could see of total leadership by God.

As we think about God’s leading in our lives, there is a verse I learned early on as a child that I constantly come back to and that is:

Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. -Psalm 119:105

As early as I can recall, every time I heard this preached on, it was pointed out correctly, that this was not a floodlight of information about that path a mile down the road, but a small light to let you safely see the next step to take.  I am the type of person that wants to know the 1 year, 5 year, and if possible 10 year plan; but God doesn’t seem to give that bright of a light too often.

In my case, it was one little open door and answered prayer at a time that ultimately put me in a place to travel to the other side of the world to follow God’s call in our family’s life.  God accomplished that through a series of moves, jobs and ministries that positioned us spiritually, emotionally and financially to be able to say yes when the door opened.  If you would have told me in 1996 when I was a junior in college, serving in the Marine Corps Reserve and preparing to get married that summer that I would move to Japan and serve at an English speaking church on the other side of the world after serving 10 years on active duty as a Navy Chaplain, I would have definitely said you were crazy.

I think it is exactly that response that I would have had at 21 years old, that makes it necessary for God to slowly reveal his leading working in our life.  It develops that trust that as he shows that small light to take the next step, we trust him more each step we take.  This ultimately develops within us a faith that lets Abraham be willing to sacrifice his only promised child or a boy from South Carolina be willing to move across the world.  The part that has only occurred to me, though, in the last few years is that so many times we only see that leading in a rear view mirror.  While we are walking forward, they seem many times like simple little life choices, only a few of which are big and life changing; but then we look back on our life to see that each of those “little” steps brought about God’s larger plan in our lives.

In the next segment, this is the perfect place to explore a little more about how to know exactly which step to take when that little light reveals more than one possible option.  A little foreshadowing, I don’t think anyone has the perfect answer, and the Holy Spirit is ultimately our counselor on the road of life.

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