The Unknown

Unknown

I am a planner. I like to plan out things for maximum efficiency. For instance, if I know I have several errands to take care of, I will plan out what order of attack will be the most efficient based on the locations of errands in relation to home, each other, and traffic patterns (such as left-turn signals or busy roadways). I also take into consideration if I need to go to one place first, such as the bank. Then I implement my attack. I get great satisfaction in ticking off my list as I go. It makes me feel productive. What I don’t like is going into the unknown, whether it is a new grocery store or a new career. I want to know the plan and the best way to get there; however, God often has other ideas.

When I was called to serve as a short-term missionary to Seoul, South Korea, I was excited and a little nervous. There were all kinds of plans to be made, such as what to do with my car while I was gone or what to pack to take with me. I thought I had everything under control; however, there was a hiccup in the transportation plans. I wrote to the mission about my arrival, but I never received a response. I had a plane ticket and my passport, but I had no idea what would happen once I arrived at the airport, such as who, if anyone, was picking me up. The last and main leg of the journey was a 15-hour non-stop flight, and I spent 90% of that flight trying not to worry about what would happen when I got there. When I stepped through the doors of customs into the waiting area, I searched the crowd, my heart racing. At first, I only saw a mass of strangers rushing to greet other passengers, but then I spotted a group of people holding a welcome sign with my name on it and felt a wave of relief wash over me. God had provided a way even though I did not know of the plans He was making in my behalf.

When Abraham left his country in Genesis 12, he had no idea where he was going. He went by faith. When God told Noah to build a boat when it hadn’t even rained, it took faith. When the Israelites left Egypt and walked into the desert, they didn’t know where they were going either. I did not know what would happen when I got to the airport, but God did. The reason God leads us into the unknown is to build our faith and force us to trust in who He is instead of in ourselves.

We want to know the plan, but God just wants us to know Him. The goal of this life is a relationship with God, to know Him better, to trust Him. The only way to do that is to step out in faith from the known path into the unknown, to cast out into the deep away from the seeming safety of the shore, knowing that whatever He has planned for us is better than anything we can dream up.

While planning has its place, we also need to be open to following God into the unknown believing in faith that He knows what lies ahead and will be with us all the way. If we follow His lead, we will never go astray. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God.” The phrase “be still” can be translated “cease striving” or “release your hold” or “relax.” God is in the driver’s seat, and He knows more than any GPS about what lies ahead, so relax and enjoy the journey. God’s got this!

Recalculating

Most people these days use a GPS when going somewhere for the first time. It gives a visual of the next segment of the trip and includes an electronic voice that reads the directions as you approach turns or changes in course. If you do not follow her directions, the voice will say, “recalculating” as it resets the directions to help you get back on the course she has laid out for you.

Life is often described as a journey. As a Christian, our ultimate destination is Heaven, but there are many stops along the way. We often encounter crossroads or are distracted by side roads and get off the path laid out for us by our GPS – God’s Positioning System – also known as the Holy Spirit. In a still small voice the Holy Spirit prods us and comforts us as we go on the journey. Sometimes He also has to recalculate the directions when we go off the course plotted out for us by God.

We also have a physical map in the form of the Bible. Psalm 119:105 says, “They Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” It shows us the way a segment at a time, just like the GPS in your car. Just as a flashlight or lantern can only illuminate a small section of a path in the dark, so does God illuminate the way we should go in small sections. We never see all the stops on the journey, but as we move along, more of the path is unveiled just as when we move forward on a path with a flashlight. Until you take a step forward, you cannot see any further no matter how hard you look.

Recalculating, unfortunately, is a constant need as we often think we know better than the GPS or even try to turn it off. While the GPS in your car can sometimes be mistaken, God never makes a mistake. However, as soon as you realize you have strayed off the right path or taken a wrong turn, ask your GPS to recalculate and show you how to get back on the right track.  One of the many benefits of a God-given GPS is that it never has to search for a satellite or tower and the battery is never dead. It is always active and ready to guide us as long as we will use it and follow directions.