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map reading

One of the key truths that God has graciously given to me is that I know that God made me on purpose and with a purpose.  I remember getting saved and having a very real and very clear call at that moment to ministry.  All I wanted to do is preach the gospel to anyone and everyone.

But there was that next big question, the question we often ask about life.

How do we get there?

Earlier this year I went for a bit of a road trip to visit my friend Fee who lives in Gulf Harbour.  I had never been to Gulf Harbour before.  In fact, I had probably only driven over the harbour bridge about 5 times in the whole 15 years I’ve lived in Auckland!
Anyway, I had her address written down.  I knew from the map on the net what streets to take in her little township area.
But as I drove over the bridge and started looking at the motorway exit signs I noticed one thing that made me half freak out.  They didn’t have suburb titles, like how the rest of Auckland does.  Like Manukau.  East Tamaki.  Greenlane.  It had road names.  I was heading into unfamiliar territory and the road signs made no sense!
Then I saw another sign that made me freak out even more.  Probably a 3/4 freak out on the scale of freaking out.  Toll bridge ahead.  We had been driving for over an hour and there were less and less houses and more and more grass and more and more cows.  I was like oh my word!  Perhaps we totally missed where we were going?  Perhaps I was totally lost!

 

So i pulled over and rung my friend.  Hey Fee, Claire here.  Help I’m LOST and um, yeah that toll bridge thing.

Ended up that I wasn’t lost, I just wasn’t there yet.  And we didn’t have to go the toll bridge, we had to take some off ramp with a weird name that didn’t relate at all to the area she lived in.
Now I bet you’re wondering what on earth does that have to do with my life and my dreams?  Its a nice story, but hello….
You see, just like how I was on a journey we are all on a journey.
I had a destination, but I was driving unfamiliar roads and didn’t really know how to get there.
I was pointing in the right direction, but some of the signs were confusing and made me unsure if I was on the right track.
And in the end I phoned my friend for help.
And yes, we made it there in the end!
We are all on a journey.  Life is a journey.  Every day counts.    But the good news is that God knows the destination, and He knows how to get there.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
You can be confident at every age and at every stage that God loves you and that He made you on purpose with a purpose.  God isn’t random.  He didn’t make you and then throw you into humanity to see what would happen.  He made you on purpose, with a purpose.
But sometimes it feels like we’re driving unfamiliar roads.  What will I study at high school?  What about university?  Or apprenticeship?  Who will I marry?  Should i do an OE?  Buy a house?  The red pill or the blue pill?     Big questions.
Philippians 1:6 says that God will finish what He starts.  He started something in your life.  And He will see it through to the destination.  God is the dream giver and the dream fulfiller.  He gives us dreams….  those desires and thoughts you have are seeds of God’s plan.  And He doesn’t just leave us to do it ourselves, He on purpose is at work to make the dreams come true.
Sometimes there are confusing signs though.  Some of the confusing signs could be what other people say.  You’re not good enough.  Why would you do that?  Sometimes its what we say to ourselves.  Man we can be mean to ourselves eh?  Sometimes we’re saying we’re not good enough.  Sometimes there is life stuff that happens that shakes us a little bit.  Sometimes its also a timing thing, that God knows the perfect time for things to happen and so He keeps on working on us from the inside out so that we’re ready for the challenge and the task.
Though we may not know exactly what the map is like, we can be confident that God will show us what to do at the right time.
So how do we do that in real life?
1. Reading the Bible.  Psalm 110:105 says Your Word is a lamp unto my feet.  Its a light to show us where to put our feet.   The wisdom and cool stuff in here will show you what steps to take.
2.    Hang out with God.  Remember Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. God hears us when we pray.  Keep drawing close to Him and hanging out with God.  He is so wise, so amazing and knows all and sees all.  He sees your journey from the beginning to end.  Blows your mind eh!  By hanging out with God He gives us the confidence to step out of our comfort zone when we need to, and the peace and strength to keep going.  Sometimes He shows us a better way to do things.  Sometimes He shows us that we’ve been heading in the wrong direction totally and He helps us U Turn and get back on the right road.
3.  Talk to someone.  I phoned my friend.  Talk to a big person in your life, someone who perhaps is further down the road of life than you.  Ask them what they know to be true about God.  Ask them how they got through the rough parts.  Ask them how they figured out what to do next.
I am further down the journey that you.  I have had some epic plot twists.  I have had some interesting detours.  I have had some seasons where it has felt like I was going the long long long way round and that I was asking God every 3 minutes “are we there yet?”  “are we there yet?”  “are we there yet?”
We see the map just as we are.  Just our little square of location.  But God can zoom out and see the whole map.  He sees every part of your journey.  You can trust Him.  He never gets lost.  He never takes a wrong turn.  He doesn’t need to ask for directions.
Tonight put your journey in the hands of God, whom you can trust, and who loves you…
You might however be at that point of wondering if God is real.  If He loves you.  If He knows your journey.  Yip, He does.  He loves you.  He knows your name.  Jesus came for real and lived for real and died for real and rose from death for real to prove that love.  Life without God is like not even getting in the car, to spin the analogy.  Yip, it may feel scary to think about God.  Yip, it may be scary to get real about it.  But its so worth it.
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Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.  Proverbs 16:3

In his heart a man plans his course,  but the Lord determines his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 19:25

 

don’t we all want to know who we’re called to be and what we’re called to do?

isn’t that the big question of our heart?

 

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why." Mark Twain

 

i believe the key to discovering why we’re on this planet, why we’re alive, what our purpose is, begins in knowing God and hearing His call.  and it is outworked by obedience and following Him, by being in step with the Holy Spirit and trusting God in the process.

letting God determine our steps means we are living a surrendered life – listening for His will and laying down our own fleshly desires.  for me it means that i follow HIS road map, not my own.  i may think the best way is the straight line between two points but God may have a different route to programme into my life’ GPS.  letting Him determine my steps also means that i choose to see things from His perspective.  what can seem like a delay to me may be the training ground for promotion, like how Joseph, Joshua and Ruth experienced?

If I believe God is directing my paths, then…

every moment is divinely orchestrated.

every moment is strategic.

every moment is God-directed.

If you knew that this moment was a divine moment, how would you live differently? If you knew this was an as-it-turned-out, God-directed moment, how would you respond?  Craig Owens

 

Maybe the long way round is the right way round for the journey of our lives?

as humans its like we’re hardwired to want to go from A to B the shortest way possible. but sometimes that isn’t the best route to go. sometimes we need to take detours and go the scenic route. its better for our character and our strength and our relationship with God. 

God KNOWS the right way we should go. we should entrust our lives to Him – commit our ways to Him and He will order our steps.

Choosing the right path begins with SUBMISSION, not information, not even direction.  submission specially to the One who knows where each path leads, as well as where it doesn’t lead.  Submission to the One who knows what’s best for you better than you know what’s best for you.  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6  Notice he doesn’t say “most of your ways.”  he said ALL.  Solomon didn’t leave any wiggle room.  in all your ways means in all your dating ways, in all your marriage ways, your entertaining ways, your morality ways, your educational ways, your professional ways, your financial ways.  he wasn’t just peaking of your sunday ways, your religious ways, your prayer ways.  all means all.  in every arena of your life, we are to acknowledge God.  so what does that mean? to acknowledge god means to recognize who he is and respond accordingly.  what is the proper response to God? submission.  we are to recognize god’s authority over every component of our lives.  we are to seek and submit to his will in every area of life.  that is, in al our ways.  Andy Stanley – Principal of the Path

 

"I can promise you God has more than enough for every one of us if we just let him direct our steps." – James Robison

"In the pursuit of following Him, He brought my destiny to me. I didn’t have to chase my destiny. It came. My eyes fixed on Him, walking to Him and He aligns my steps" Kim Walker Smith 

 

When we love God and fix our eyes on Him, He orders our steps into the plans and purposes that He has for us. His promise is to complete the good work He has started!   i can be CONFIDENT in His goodness and ablenes and faithfulness!

i can be confident that as i keep my eyes upon Him that He will direct my steps.  That means wherever i walk, be it the mountain top, beside still waters, in the valley, that God is with me and leading me for His glory sake.  There is always a purpose for where i am and what i am walking through.  Though the terrain may be difficult and painful i can commit my way to God and keep trusting.  He is always faithful.  It is impossible for Him to forget me, loose track of me or forsake me.

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. NIV

When you cross deep rivers,  I will be with you, and you won’t drown. When you walk through fire,  you won’t be burned or scorched by the flames.  CEV

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you. AMP

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you. NKJV

Isaiah 43:2

 

it is so good to know that God has my life in His hands and that His promise is that He will complete the good work He has begun.  I can have confidence in His guidance and leading.  Today i am His.  Today i choose to follow Him.

 

i asked this on twitter today and received these answers:

 

jasonbhuffman  i say yes. "What God wants" is a relative term based on how specific you want to be. God wants you to love others & serve him

mrsbrownkiwi Our job is to say ‘Use me, I’m available’, because we love Him. Then in time our path is made clear.

rlcassidy : Q: Can u be totally in love with God and NOT know what He is calling you to?" Sure, He’ll clue you in at the perfect moment.

angiebattle Yes.

ChyldofGodAng I say No b/c 2 know God is to know His heart & if you know His heart then it would be silly not to know what He wants u to do

diamondlarrt To answer your question: I think it may be possible. I sort of feel that way lately as I’m still looking for an income source

pentacostalman yes, and if you want to know the calling that God has for you, then pray and fast and ask God to show you and He will

DrJared yes, met many people in that situation

melodeej  Yes…sometimes it is hard to follow God’s lead or recognize His voice.

mrsbrownkiwi Yes I think so.

and though this wasnt a direct answer it fit the question:   Jennivieve Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it: you will be shown what to do next. [Elisabeth Elliot]

 

 

i guess there are many questions hidden in that…

  • can you be madly in love with God, loving Him with all your heart, mind and strength and soul and not understand His ways?  
  • can you trust Him even in the silence of unrevelation? 
  • is the not knowing what you’re called to do a symptom of coldness of heart or unbelief or rebellion? 
  • are there obstacles in our own life to hearing from God? 
  • is the destination the most important thing or the transformation?  
  • does it need to be a specific “thing” or is the everyday loving Him and obedience to His Word “enough?”
  • are we looking for dramatic guidance when the leading is right under our noses?
  • are we looking for big ministry calls when the call is to demonstrate God’s reality in our everyday life to the people around us?

 

i love how God works in tensions sometimes.

there is the tension between God being our Guider, His Word a lamp to our feet, the One who orders our steps, the One who reveals which direction we should go in…  the One who prompts us to do specific things and make specific decisions, who places desires in our hearts and compels us and works in us to do His will.

and the tension of walking by faith not by sight… of not knowing where to put our feet next, of not knowing exactly what we’re called to do, of feeling like we’re using our mind to make decisions, of trusting that God will guide us but feeling a more nonspecific leading…

 

we have people in our housegroup that experience one or the other, or both. which is why i’m thinking about it alot.  some i can see (i hope i dont sound judgemental!) that it is a unsurrendered heart that is restricting how God leads them or how open they are to being led… others they’re wholehearted and devoted and dedicated but still feel none the wiser and a bit lost in regards to the big picture.  i continue to pray for them all that they’ll know His love and love Him with everything and that they’ll serve Him everyday in every way! and i encourage them all to take that time out to seek Him – because i believe those who ask, recieve, those who seek, find and to those who knock, He opens the door.  i also totally believe 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 that says that the Holy Spirit reveals the good things that God has prepared for those who love Him, that the Holy Spirit is our Guide and reveals the love of God to us.   sometimes though it isnt because someone isnt asking.  its just the way God is outworking His plan.  its because we’re called to trust and to live being transformed.

 

i dont think someone is more spiritual because they know.  or that someone is less spiritual because they dont.  or that someone is more spiritual because they’re waiting on God, or that someone is less spiritual because they have defined goals.  have we made it all about that and do we look down at people on a different path?  i so hope not!  God often asked someone what was in their hand – or what they could do RIGHT NOW TODAY – are we wanting to be future forward and thus missing out on the opportunities of today, putting our life on pause until we get the big picture?  some people can get so wrapped up in the knowing or not knowing that they can be paralysed if the way doesnt seem written in the sky before them, instead of stepping out and DOING something. 

 

and i know i’ve been blest.  right from salvation night i knew i wanted to preach.  and so i’ve lived my life towards that goal.  i’ve always been aware of very specific guidance but also been very aware, or perhaps confident that God would guide me in my life and so i step out and live fully.  i make decisions quickly and believe that if i make the wrong decision that God would speak and guide me away from that.   i’ve been secure in His love and ability to reveal His will.  i’m wired that way. 

 

abraham was called to a land he did not know.

moses knew the location of the Promised Land.

joseph was called to be a leader and then went to the prison before the palace.

jonah ran.

noah was called to build the ark and got very specific plans, likewise moses got the plans for the tabernacle and followed them precisely. 

paul often mentioned that he was LED by the Spirit, or restricted by the Spirit.

 

“When we are thirsty for God, God will satisfy that longing. And as we continue to seek God, we’ll grow to know him more and more intimately. When we hear God’s voice, we’ll recognize it instantly. We’ll talk to God all the time and miss him when circumstances distract us from his presence. We’ll build a history together, storing up story after story of shared experiences. We’ll love God. We’ll trust God. We’ll know God.” the christian atheist by Craig Groeschel

 

regardless of whether we have a clear life map worked out or whether we feel like we’re walking blind we’re called to know Him and make Him known, to love Him and to serve Him.  i believe that as mrsbrownkiwi said that as we’ have an openness about our lives and say YES USE ME that God will, in the ordinary and the extraordinary and that our path will be made clear. 

 

the main point is that if we’re in love with God and knowing His love we’ll be confident and secure of whatever path we’re on and trusting that He will speak if need be and that He is at work on our behalf and in our hearts. 

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