I’ve always heard that if you’re not going forward, you’re going backwards. Sometimes it’s all we can do to put one foot in front of the other. When your life has been flipped upside down, you become directionally challenged. What seems like the right direction may not be right. It’s tough to know which way forward is in those moments. You may feel like you’re drowning and you can’t stay still, so you move in the direction you hope is forward just so you can leave the place where you are.
I remember taking swimming lessons as a kid. They warned us that under water, you can lose your sense of direction. In those moments it’s easy to panic, and to start swimming thinking you’re moving closer to air, when in reality, you’re going further down. Going the wrong direction can cost you more than time. To help, they taught us a simple rule to help determine the right way to swim. Be still. When you quit fighting and are still, your body will naturally float to the top. Once you’re moving in that direction, swim with all your might.
The same thing is true for us spiritually. When were lost and confused as to which way is forward, be still. You’ve heard Psalm 46:10 as, “Be still and know that I am God,” but I like the Good News Translation even better. It says, “’Stop fighting,’ He says, ‘and know that I am God.’” When you’re under water and you’re drowning, it’s natural to fight, but God says, “Stop fighting. Be still.” When we do that, not only will we know He is God, but we will find the way forward. Quit panicking trying to get out of this phase and be still. When God sends you in the right direction, go forward with all your might.
On one of my very first days of living in Cairo, Egypt, the youth pastor took me and three others,who were interns as well, to lunch. After lunch, she took us outside and got in a taxi. As we started to get in with her, she handed us a piece of paper with her address on it. She said, “Y’all get another taxi and have them take you here.” With that, her taxi took off and we were left standing on the side of the road in a foreign country. At that moment, I realized I knew absolutely nothing in Arabic.
I couldn’t say, “yes” or “no” even. As we looked at license plates, I noticed that I couldn’t even recognize the numbers. How were we going to communicate with the taxi driver? After we got in the taxi, we told him the address. He asked if we spoke Arabic. We shook our heads no. We quickly figured out that he was not from this part of town. He drove around aimlessly and stopped for directions a few times. We began to get scared because we had no idea where we were, where we were going or how to get there if we could communicate. We were completely disoriented.
In the process, we saw most of the town where we would be living for the next year, we bonded with each other and laughed about it later, much later. It reminded me of what God does with us sometimes. He gives us instructions that don’t make sense, puts us in situations that we don’t understand and asks us to do the impossible with very little instructions. It can be disorienting and scary. It can be stressful for us as well because we can’t see where He’s leading. We have families to feed, people who depend on us and safety nets that we’ve built. Why does God move us out of those comfortable situations?
I heard the answer in our Bible study. The author said, “God will sometimes disorient us in order to re-orient us. We can become too dependent on the things we’ve built for our own security and that causes us to trust God less. Jesus constantly said and did things that disoriented His disciples. He took men who were used to being on the water and gave them land legs. He taught in people’s homes instead of always doing it in the synagogue. He referred to God as “Father” instead of Yahweh. He hung out with sinners instead of the righteous. He challenged their entire way of life so He could re-orient them into the life He wanted them to live.
What’s happening in your life right now that doesn’t make sense to you? Where has God moved you that is away from the comfort zone you built? God has not left you and isn’t allowing things to happen to you randomly. He is re-orienting your life to a deeper trust in Him. He is re-orienting your faith to give you a stronger trust in Him. He is redirecting your life to the path He wants you on so you can accomplish all He has for you. Trust that He sees the whole map of your life and knows when you need to be re-oriented. Feeling lost temporarily can bring a greater direction to your life. Trust what God is doing.