Which way do I go from here? And is that all I need to know in order to get there?
The sign in this photo depicts numerous destinations with their approximate distances from that specific location in Pioneer Courthouse Square. It is a fun conversation piece for the many passers-by who frequent Portland’s notorious living room. And it makes me think about life.
If I follow the arrow for Guadalajara, for instance, I may be able to stay on course for a short while. However, I will quickly run into obstacles which force me to take detours. Buildings. Rivers. Lakes. Mountains. Furthermore, without ongoing course corrections from reliable information sources, I will have a great deal of difficulty regaining a proper heading. One obscure novelty sign in a public place is no sure way to guarantee a successful transit to my destination. As soon as I am out of visual range of the directional marker, I surely will lose track of where I need to be.
Life has a similar set of dynamics. We may have an initial idea of what we want to do and where we want to go, but invariably distractions, obstacles, disappointments and opposition obscure our way. We need course corrections. For our hearts, first and foremost. Equally so, for our wills. But also for the general and specific aspects of what God has called us to do.
I liken it to the relationship between strategy and tactics. Strategy relates to the execution of a comprehensive plan, whereas tactics are the fluid, adaptive decisions which implement the overall vision. In the example above, we know we need to go a specific direction, south to Mexico, where Guadalajara is located. That is the general plan, and it initiates a strategy to fulfill that plan, such as utilizing various modes of transportation. The details, however, are the tactics. Which airline will we take and when will the flight be scheduled? How will we get to the airport? What specific luggage will be brought along? And so on.
The sign above surely is an entertaining conversation piece, but it is not a reliable method of initiating travel to any of the destinations it cites, including Guadalajara. But it raises a couple of questions. If we sense that God is leading us to Guadalajara, or any other location, or if we sense God making a move in our heart to lead us into a new vocation of work or ministry, then it seems wise to pray to God and ask for wisdom concerning how best to prepare for that journey, or how best to prepare for the life transition. Wouldn’t you agree?
We may gain a new vision full of exciting possibilities. But in so doing, we also will encounter difficulties we had not previously thought possible. Mark my words. Obedience to God marks us as dangerous opponents to the kingdom of darkness. Whether it be through natural obstacles, or the result of spiritual warefare, the enemy will deploy his arsenal to take us off course. He would prefer to see us sit in a public space (or at home, or in nice secure job, or in the comfort of entertaining environs) such as the one above dreaming about what could have been, rather than allow us to launch out obediently into the vision God is birthing in our hearts.
Is there a dream lurking about in your heart? Do you sense a general direction but fear taking steps to launch out? Have you been beat up so much that you are discouraged and secretly thinking about checking out of ministry, faith, even life? God sees you. He sees your heart. He knows the hurt. He offers in return his Holy Spirit to fill you, heal you, restore you, empower you for a new day with fresh vision and hope. God is not finished with you. Worship him and ask him to lead you from a place of disillusionment, to one of clarity and astounding hope.