My family is facing big changes right now. Things we thought would happen eventually, but certainly not this soon, have been thrust upon us in quick succession at a dizzying speed.
My life is being turned upside-down, and I don’t know how to plan anymore. These aren’t necessarily bad things… just life things. Things that are unavoidable and will undoubtedly have a significant effect on my future. I’ve only just begun to think seriously about college and career options, just begun to figure out what I thought the next steps for education would be… and now it’s like the rug has been ripped from beneath my feet.
I’m not sure I understand what God is trying to teach me in all this. I trust his timing, his ultimate plan, that everything that happens to me will eventually work for my good. That’s not an issue for me. Undoubtedly, this is God’s will and will turn out for my good in the end. I trust that implicitly.
It’s not God, or his will, or his goodness, or his sovereignty that I doubt. It’s my own decisions granted to me by my free will operating within God’s ultimate plan.
Will I make the right choice in accordance with God’s will for my life? What if I misread one of the signs? Will my life spiral completely out of control and I look back in my later years in bitterness, wishing I had made a different decision? What if I somehow mess everything up by getting confused and choosing something different from that one, special, pre-ordained path?? I’ve been told all my life to make sure I seek and follow his will in everything I do, and that only bad consequences can follow from acting against that will. That as long as I seek that will, he will protect and guide me through everything I face.
But how do I KNOW??
I have this picture in my brain of my Heavenly Father looking down at me as I frantically search for the right path, shaking his head in frustration and pure pity at how clueless and misguided I am. “How could it be more clear? If she doesn’t watch out, she’ll miss it, and then I’m done with her bumbling.”
Somehow, I don’t think this perception of God and his perfect will are quite right…
One of my favorite Bible verses in times of doubt is Isaiah 30:21 –
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.Isaiah 30:21 (KJV)
But so often in modern Christianity, we strip verses from their context, reducing them to a mere shadow of what they truly are when interpreted correctly. Sometimes we pervert their original meanings entirely. So of course, I was curious to know what the full meaning here was. In my current state of stressed-out skepticism, I wouldn’t at all have been surprised if my research revealed that the Old Testament prophet was, in fact, alluding to the constant whispering of the darker powers present in our world, and not the guiding hand of Our Father In Heaven at all.
A quick Google search pulled up the entire passage on Bible Gateway. As my eyes started skimming the chapter in suspicion, it began to feel almost as though my doubt about this verse was sent directly to alleviate my fears. I won’t paste the entire chapter into this blog post, but I’ll give you the key points.
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:Isaiah 30, selected verses (KJV)
2 That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
3 Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion…
9 …This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord:
10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us…
15 For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
16 But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift…
18 And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him…
21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left…
23 Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.
24 The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.
25 And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
26 Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.
Just with these extra verses, everything becomes so much clearer:
This chapter was written to the Children of Israel during a time when they had strayed away from following Jehovah. They had instead gone chasing after the ways and gods of their neighboring nations (in the example given here, Egypt). They were actively walking away from God, making it a point to not only close their ears to their teachers, but to specifically request them to teach untruths that they preferred to following the laws God had given them.
They were refusing to follow God because they preferred to continue in sin.
The way they should go was clear — and they were actively refusing to walk that direction.
This realization came as so much relief to me.
This passage is telling me that our God isn’t one to make his children play guessing games about his will, then tut-tut as he looks down his nose at us when we inevitably make mistakes. It’s telling me that I shouldn’t live in fear of accidentally slipping up and choosing one of many available paths, only to find out later that whoops! you should’ve opened Door No. 4 instead of Door No. 6! now you only get pain and misery for the rest of your life!
I’m being told that as long as I seek to make the right decisions, my Father won’t let me make the wrong ones.
I’m being told that the only time I’ll become Lost is when I refuse to be Found.
The only way to leave the path God has for me is to do so willingly. To clearly and consciously look at his commandments and instructions for my life, and say, “No thanks, I’m going to do this my way.” To act in direct opposition to him. I won’t fall out of God’s favor because I decided to wear a green shirt tomorrow morning when there is also a grey one hanging in my closet. I won’t face the spiritual consequences of my choices because I thought an art book would be a better use of my money than a bag of candy or vice versa. I may get a perfectly natural, human stomach ache if I eat all the candy at once, and goodness knows I’ll be dealing with sugar-induced pimples for a week — but God’s not going to punish me for it. As long as I’m not acting against something God has clearly told me… I’m not acting against something God has clearly told me!
Now, does discovering all this help me feel more at ease? Absolutely. Once again, I’m reminded of the depth and breadth of my Savior’s love for me. I’m such a fallible, emotional, easily-confused human. He’s such an infallible, wise, all-knowing God. And yet he’ll give me every chance to return to him whenever I stumble, just like he did the Children of Israel. That’s amazing.
But does understanding all this mean my anxiety about these changes in my life, my worry that I’ll make wrong decisions, has magically vanished?
Unfortunately, the answer is a quick, easy, “No”.
Those things will remain, because it’s what sudden change does to us humans. And because there’s a devil and a doubting human nature constantly whispering in my ear, trying to sway my faith. And just because… stress and anxiety is a part of the human experience. Even Christ experienced it. It’s only the doubting of God’s goodness, his providence for us, and his sovereignty in all things that’s wrong.
In fact, being concerned that I’ll make the wrong choices, while not fun, is perfectly normal and, to tell the truth, actually kinda necessary. It’s this concern that proves one really does care about making the right decisions and doing God’s will. Plus, that concern works as an extra push to investigate all the possible options open to me as much as I humanly can, and therefore be able to make a far more informed choice than I would if I just acted on gut instinct and emotional whims.
I’m sharing all this with you because I want to be transparent on this blog. I want whoever needs to see this to know that they’re not alone in their doubting. This is what is happening in my life right now, and God is teaching me things through it. I want to share those things with all of you who are willing to learn along with me. This battle to be sure of my decisions is one of the greatest I’ve ever faced in my life, and it’s only growing as I get older. As I said at the beginning of this post, college and a career are fast-approaching giants looming on my horizon. I’m sure I’ll talk about it again here, because I certainly don’t have all the answers, and just because I found this one passage doesn’t mean I’ll never struggle with this again.
In closing, I want to leave you with this song: He Will Hold Me Fast by Keith and Kristyn Getty (Amazon Music link).
I really like a lot of the Gettys’ music, and I think this song really applies to what I’ve been talking about in this post: That God will hold on to us and won’t let us make the wrong decisions as long as we’re seeking to make the right ones.
If you’ve read all the way through all of this rambling, I congratulate you! Thank you for sticking with me through this. I know this has been a bit heavy, and I honestly feel bad for starting off a brand-new blog by dropping this on everyone. I promise there will be lots of far more fun things in the future (many of them fangirly 😀 ), but there will be things like this from time to time as well. I hope this has helped someone else. If you have any thoughts or opinions on anything I’ve talked about here, please leave a comment and I’d love to discuss it further with you! 🙂
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Until next time,