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Someone asked me the other day how I knew when God was telling me to do something specific, or to follow a certain path.

My answer was that, more often than not, I’m rarely fully sure. I have times when I think I know what God is saying, but it’s never 100% clear, and there’s always a part of me which worries that I’m just convincing myself that it is God’s voice rather than mine.

All in all, it’s a very confusing business.

***

Looking back, the times God has guided me haven’t been signposted by Damascene moments, accompanied by bright lights and a booming voice.

Instead, I can look behind me and see a series of doors which have opened for me, and some which have been closed. I see conversations with people, things I’ve heard at church and passages of Scripture all fall together into a path which I’ve followed, even though at the time I didn’t relise I was following it.

Rather than tell me from the start where I’m going, God instead seems to prefer leading me one step at a time.

The difficulty with this is that it results in a lot of uncertainty. For a lot of my journey, I don’t know where I’m going. But I think it’s partly so I remember God en route. If he was to tell me the path, tell me the destination and tell me the obstacles I’d encounter on the way, I wouldn’t need him as much. I might remember things he said, but I wouldn’t rely on him.

I’d rely on me.

By taking me through one door at a time, guiding me step by step, God teaches me to rely on him. Trust him. Follow him.

Don’t get me wrong – I’d love for him to speak louder sometimes.

But he knows what he’s doing.

***

Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We’ll wander back and home to bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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The approaching storm

August 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I sit and watch the storm approaching. Dark clouds drawing in, curtains blocking out the light. The wind picks up, blowing leaves around like helpless bits of rubbish caught up in something bigger than themselves.

The rain begins to fall, quietly and sporadically at first, then violently and without mercy. Plants bow at the power of the raindrops, which shatter on the ground, creating individual explosions.

The world has gone from a moment of calm to a moment of supreme chaos in a matter of minutes. The rain and wind attack the windows of houses, desperate to get in. Inside those houses sit people, all watching the storm, hoping the rain and wind stay out.

***

In the middle of the storm, it is calm. A glimpse of peace amid a raging inferno. A moment of speechlessness, as the storm rages around but not within. The trees take respite, weary branches resting in a momentary relief.

Silence. Calm.

***

I can’t stop thinking about storms at the moment. I can’t stop wondering why God leads us into them. Questioning why. It’s part of the journey, I know. But not a part I necessarily enjoy.

Nothing comes out of the storm unchanged in some way. Physically, mentally, emotionally – the storm changes us. As he guides us through the storm, God changes us.

***

“Out of defeat can come the best in human nature. As Christians face storms of adversity, they may rise with more beauty. They are like trees that grow on mountain ridges — battered by winds, yet trees in which we find the strongest wood.” Billy Graham.