Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lent Day 29: Knowing which way to turn

Wouldn't it be nice if life had a GPS? Clear signposts? Or lists? Especially if they pointed to the best possible outcomes. Think about it.
  • 16: NU ahead. Study harder.
  • 21: Job from an interview behind the door on the right.
  • 25: Marry. Her. (Him.)
  • 30s: Invest in retirement. Have another kid.
  • 40s: Best boss is the bald guy.
  • 50s: Today is your last chance to ...
  • 60s: Invest in your grandchildren's generation.
  • 70s: Pray more. Complain less.
  • 80s: Heaven on November 30.
Life would be SO much easier! We'd always know when to go straight ahead ... or which way to turn.

It's not that simple, is it? And it's not that boring, either.

Sometimes it seems we have no choices. Other times we are flooded with possibilities. We may have options about whom we marry, any of them a good potential spouse. We guess at the best job offer. Hope we're hauling our stuff across the country to a safer city.

We make the leap. And then we take our chances.

I've had a few milestone moments in my life. What to do after high school? A calling to ministry and missions made my initial college choice easy. Whom to marry? "The guy praying beside you on the right." ("Hey, are You sure? His head only comes up to my ear!" Being one year older meant a height difference between W and me in our mid-teens. He caught up.) Stay in our hometown or move away? W had to finish the degree he'd started: we moved.

I've had a few misses. I worried about a few sure things that didn't come to pass. I lost some opportunities, said too little or too much, and thought I was doing the right thing.

So how do you negotiate a fork in the road?
  1. Pray. Trust that whatever the initial interest, potential process, or eventual outcome, God will give you direction.
  2. Talk to trusted confidants. Gather pros and cons from your spouse, family who love you, good friends, and outside advisers. Don't talk to everyone: in your inner circle, choose those who know you well enough to have your best interests at heart.
  3. Listen for pattens in the feedback you hear. Is it a quick, go for it!? When I took a connecting and creative job designing alumni interactions for a university, everyone said, "Wow! Sounds like a fantastic fit." Or is it a universal, "No way!" When we thought about moving into a dark apartment, my friends rolled their eyes and said, "Don't even think about it! There's not enough light in there for you." (I took the job. Rejected the apartment.) If it's somewhere between, keep listening and praying.
  4. Start moving in the direction of a good fit. Explore options. Do background research: have others done this? What have they liked or disliked about it? Is it a completely new arena? Examine how the first steps feel: are you happy or afraid, at peace or in turmoil?
  5. Keep going until you find your groove or hit a dead end. If doors keep opening, keep moving forward. If there's an impasse, check if it lies with you or others. Can you move the roadblock? Is the road roped off? If you're at the end and prayers haven't unlocked the door, start again at #1.
  6. Be prepared for surprises. You may have stepped onto a wide path, but have to traverse a few narrow trails of adventure between "yes!" and your goal. 
  7. Walk in courageous trust. How does God keep the earth spinning when airplanes and ships and cars and bicycles keep us moving from place to place? How does the sun stay in the sky with such enormous solar flares that could knock it out of orbit? How does He order our lives to connect or avoid connections with people, jobs, and experiences instead of us chaotically bumping through life without purpose?
"Everything is harder, more work, and more wonderful than I think it will be when I plan it," says W. I agree.

We should know: we've lived a life of unexpected wonders. We've tried, failed, and succeeded at many things. We've experienced good times as well as struggles. Great joy finds its match in suffering.

Thank God for his counsel. Though we may only glimpse the possibilities ahead, God will give enough direction that we will look back and exclaim on His guiding hand and constant direction.

How do/did you know when it's the "Right Thing?"
Could you share some milestone moments from your own life?

Read more:
*He was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. Isaiah 53:8 NLT

*Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory? Luke 24:26 NLT

*[Jesus said,] "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love. … You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name." John 15:9–10, 16 NLT

*Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Jesus, our Brother, in your suffering we see the extent to which love can go. You invite us to walk the path of servant love with you. We hesitate, but you promise that we will not be alone as we bring your healing love to a hurting world. Amen.


  1. Rosemary... always find your posts food for thought... creative, clear... very focused and invariably point to the author of our quest here on earth. Thanks so much! Adeline

  2. Rosemary... love your posts. Always so creative, clear, genuine.. and pointing towards the source of our strength for the journey here on earth. Love the many tips that are so well summarized.. we know so much.. but it isn't often we can get a handle or focus on something long enough or well enough to put it into practice! Thx

  3. Thank you. It seems that God moves in strange ways at times. We think we have direction figured out. Then something completely different comes our way, whether that's in health, finances, where we live or work. Keeps us trusting Him.