Before You Take the Next Step

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When you feel rushed or pressured to make a decision, you need to stop and pray for direction. Do you submit to hearing God's voice before you take the next step?

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5

“I should call him.” “I’ll miss the opportunity if I don’t act right now.” “Sure, count me in. I’ll do it!”

Patience is a virtue I don’t naturally possess. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit am I able to wait upon God. A natural “type A” personality, it’s hard for me to stand on the sidelines, not moving a finger. My tendency is to say “yes, I’ll do it!” and to get busy making things happen instead of waiting on God to show me what to do next.

Much like some of you, I want it and I want it now.

This trait can be very valuable, though. Sanguines are usually the world’s go-getters. They are boisterous, bubbly, chatty, openly emotional, true social extroverts. They are Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton, Franklin Roosevelt and Peter the apostle, to name a few. They have changed history and impacted the world with their ideas, boldness and often lack of restraint. But as many virtues as people with this type of personality possess, their strength can also be their biggest weakness. Invariably, because of their honest need to accomplish and finish what they start, they have a hard time waiting. Especially on God.

For the Christian, the problem with that concept is that God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts? Much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8). He does not operate within our natural reality realm. His definition of success certainly does not match the world’s. Therefore, He (usually) acts at a much slower pace than we do. Admittedly, sometimes painfully slow. That’s because He’s not in the business of making us happy. Neither is He a genie, whose job is to make our dreams come true. Rather, He has a definite plan for our lives.

We often are not ready to fulfill that plan unless He works on us. And waiting is certainly one of the tools He uses to make us. Reshape us. Redefine us. And undoubtedly strengthen us for the tasks He has for us.

It all sounds good and makes sense, but exactly how am I supposed to know when to move?

I believe the best question to ask is: Exactly how am I supposed to know when NOT to move?

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

The weary traveler walked carefully on the dusty road. It was a dark, starless night. He looked around him and was greeted with sounds of creatures he could not see. In one hand, a sack containing a meager meal and some coins that he hoped to spend renting a room in a nearby town. In the other hand, a lamp. He lifted it up, high above his head, in the hopes of illuminating his surroundings. He put his hand down, dismayed. The lamp in his hand shed only enough light to illuminate a small section of the pathway ahead of him. Only enough to see where his next step would fall.

This illustration depicts the type of lamp that the psalmist used to describe what we need in order to follow God. In Old Testament times, travelers would carry a small oil lamp, the dim light only enough to shine into the steps ahead of the traveler. Likewise, the Word of God is the light which not only drives away the darkness of sin and hopelessness; it also directs us on which way to go.

It’s not that I don’t believe that God still gives His children prophetic visions regarding His master plan for their lives. I certainly believe He does. However, when it comes to obeying His voice and carrying out His plan, more often than not, He only gives enough instructions for one step at a time.

Whether we take one step, obediently, and then wait for further instructions, or choose to rush into the future, disregarding His voice… is a matter of TRUST.

At the end of the day, the question we all must ask is… do I trust my Maker with my future?

Or do I think unless I act, and act now, I will miss out?

Do I trust enough to hold all my natural instincts and personality back, submitting to His voice before I take the next step?

Or do I leave the small oil lamp behind, rushing into the darkness with the eagerness of the ungodly?

His Word is a lamp… therefore we must obey its principles if we are to live victoriously.

His Word is light… therefore we must hear His Spirit and obey it, unquestionably, waiting for His instructions before moving forward.

And when we feel rushed to make a decision, we must stop. The only correct immediate answer is:

“I’ll pray for direction.”

If the person, the project, the job cannot wait. It’s alright. God will honor your dependence upon Him.

He promises peace to those who earnestly seek Him.

And the peace is the answer you need…

Just like that lamp, His peace will guide you into the next step. And the next. And the next.

If you commit your ways to the Lord… And trust Him… you need not worry. The promise is that Yahweh Himself, the One who spoke the stars into existence, will act on your behalf. (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 37:5; Lamentations 3:25; Psalm 130:5-6)

One step of obedience at a time. Then stop. Look up. And wait for His Light to shine down into the next step you’ll take, telling you what to do next.

Or, better yet! He may surprise you and just do it for you.

Verses to Meditate:

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.” Lamentations 3:25

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!” Isaiah 64:4

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