In my last post we had our first meeting with Mark. I see him as a spoiled, direction-less young man. Sometimes that’s us. So in that last post, I suggested what we might do to gain guidance from God. God’s guidance, however, may come in odd ways. At the risk of boring you, here’s my story. It’s one way God directs our steps–at least it’s the way he directed mine.
THOSE EARLY “BOUNCING” YEARS. A year after high school, Lois and I married. She went to work as a medical assistant in a doctor’s office. I bounced from job to job, unhappily failing each. For our first five married years Lois was the main, stable wage earner, while I worked in the mail room of a corporation in New York City, in the printing department of an insurance company’s regional office in New Jersey, as a magazine phone solicitor, even as a mutual funds salesman. My final sales attempt came at Fuller Brush, lugging my suitcase of wares door-to-door to disinterested housewives. Meanwhile, Lois moved on from the doctor’s office to the regional office of that insurance company where she became secretary to one of the big-wigs. I applied to become an agent, but failed the interview. (Not motivated enough by money.)
THAT SUNDAY NIGHT. Several years earlier, I had an interesting, passing experience in the church where Lois and I grew up. At our Sunday night service, up front at the “altar” where we all gathered to pray, the thought suddenly hit me: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be in this kind of environment all the time!” As quickly as it came, it went.
CORNERED. Then, years later, a pivotal Monday morning dawned. Lois had left for work. I stood alone in our apartment trying to psyche myself for another miserable day of Fuller Brush-selling. I hated that job. I hated my failure. I hated bouncing here and there, dissatisfied and direction-less. I was hopeless. In our kitchen, I started to cry. The long ago Sunday night-thought of that wonderful church environment returned. Suddenly I sensed the Lord calling me to serve as a pastor. No words. No sounds. No Scripture. Just no place to go. He’d backed me into a corner. I’d failed at everything else. I could only rely on him and trust that what I was sensing was from him. What else could I do?
Sometimes God corners us, like a shepherd corners a dumb wandering sheep. Sometimes God directs the direction-less by closing every door but one. And that door may seem unlikely, unbelievable even. (Who was I to be a pastor?) But when our way has us going nowhere, what choice do we have?
This testimony didn’t get me invited to speak at seminars or write an article on “How to Hear God’s Call”. Paul’s Damascus road experience would have been far more captivating. I wish I could tell how was I knocked to the ground, blinded by the sun (Son?), and audibly instructed what to do and where to go! From the direction-less nowhere way of my life, I could only accept the one escape God seemed to be offering. By faith I jumped at it.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING? Is God cornering you? At 20 years old or 70, are you wondering what to do? If you’re 20, do you think all the good possibilities are blocked behind closed doors, so now you don’t know what to do? If 70, do you think age or illness has made purposeful years only a memory? If you have no direction, I’m willing to bet God is cornering you to show you the one way he wants you to go. Why not ask him to make that way clear? Why not keep asking until he does? Why not seek after him to lead you? He will. Your way, like mine, leads nowhere. His way leads to himself and to a most-satisfying purpose in this life and in the one to come.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart.
Never rely on what you think you know.
Remember the LORD in everything you do,
and he will show you the right way (Proverbs 3:5,6–TEV)