Several years ago I worked in early childhood education. One of the first things I learned (and had to keep learning) was to never do for a child what a child can do for themselves. I like things to move along quickly. Watching a child do a task they were new at was painstakingly slow. It was a lot quicker for me to step in and do it for them, but in doing so, I was robbing them of increasing their ability to do the task. I had to learn to coach them through the process rather than to just sit back and watch them struggle. Some kids wanted me to do everything, liked the help, some ignored me and others insisted they didn’t want my input. Ultimately i embraced my role to empower them.
As Christians we’re not much different than the kids I used to work with. We’re slow moving on the tasks God asks us to do. When He sends help, we may push back because of our pride. Many times we just want God to do all the hard work while we sit back and enjoy the fruits of His labor. There are also times where we simply ignore what He’s asking us to do. He write it off telling ourselves that the voice isn’t God. Ultimately we need God’s help in completing and fulfilling our purpose. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to help us as we accomplish His will.
Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure” (AMP). One of the notes in my Bible for this verse says that while God supports us, it is our responsibility to do the work He called us to. No one else is going to do what you’re called to do. It is your part to play in the story God is writing. He’s there to guide, help and support you through it, but He’s not going to do for you what you can do and are called to do. Listen for His voice as He guides you, strengthens and energized you to fulfill His purposes for your life.
If you’ve ever ridden a horse, you know they’re fairly easy to control with the reigns. A slight tug on the right makes them go right. A slight tug on the left and they go left. Pull your feet into their side just a little and off you go. I used to ride horses in the Sahara Desert near the Saqqara pyramid in Egypt. This horse was fast and fun to ride. I’d ride her over dunes and through small valleys, up and over as fast as she could go. All was good until I went over one dune and she could see the pyramid. Immediately, she would go into memory mode and start walking toward the pyramid. No matter how hard I pulled the reigns, she wouldn’t turn. I would have to dismount, cover her eyes and lead her to where she couldn’t see them so I could ride some more.
You’re probably familiar with the story of Jonah and the whale. He was told by God to go to Nineveh and preach, but he didn’t want to go. Instead he boarded a ship and went the other direction. A bad storm came to try to get him to change directions, but he stayed the course. The storm got worse to the point they started throwing things overboard as God tugged on Jonah’s reigns. Finally he admitted he was the culprit and asked to be tossed overboard. He’d rather die than to go to Nineveh. God prepared a great fish to swallow him until He could lead Jonah to where He wanted him to go. Even there, Jonah had to have his reigns pulled a few times and even felt some spurs to the side to encourage him to move. We like to point at Jonah without looking at how we disobey God’s leading, but God has to pull on our reigns too.
God has a plan for you and for me. We were created with purpose, and God is constantly revealing it to us if we’re looking and listening. He’s constantly pulling on our reigns to keep us on track. In Psalm 32:9, God says, “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track” (MSG). We get distracted like my horse in Egypt and become fixated on things of the flesh rather than the tasks God has for us. God pulls and pulls on us to go where He’s trying to lead, He will do whatever it takes to get our attention (just ask Jonah). You’re probably not in danger of being swallowed by a fish, but thankfully God will use people and things to guide us back to our purpose. Take it from me as someone who’s had their reigns pulled a few times, it’s better to obey and to stay on track. Follow the tugging of the Holy Spirit today and go where He leads.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed, “Lord, am I on the right path? Is this where you want me? What’s my next step?” I always want to be in the know about the path for my life. I want to be able to see it and know I’m in the right place. Then this week I saw someone post Jeremiah 29:11. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (NLT). They then said, notice who knows the plans. It’s not me or you.
That spoke volumes to me since I always want to know the plan. Faith is about trusting the plans God has for me even when I don’t see them fully. I need to trust the steps He gives me, and i need to wait to take them until He says to. My impulse is to be like Abraham where God shows the promise and then I try to get there on my own. We need to learn to trust God’s plan, His timing and His path to get there. I’ve learned there’s less heartache if I do.
Here are some Bible verses on trusting God’s plan and the path to get there.
1. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
Psalms 32:8 NLT
2. People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord ‘s will is going to be done.
Proverbs 19:21 GNT
3. A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the LORD directs his steps and establishes them.
PROVERBS 16:9 AMP
4. The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalms 37:23-24 NLT
5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.