Authored by Mara Hodler
There are numerous verses in the Bible that use the analogy of traveling along a path in life.
The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.1
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.2
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.3
This is kinda what I hear in these verses: You are on a journey, and you don’t really know where you are going or what path to take. But God does, and you have the option of using God’s Word as a guide and asking God to lead you, or you can sort of figure it out on your own.
We all need to make decisions and navigate this thing called “life.” Just the fact that we are alive requires us to participate in all the choices that involve us. Depending on our nature, though, we might love figuring it all out or it might terrify us. I think for most of us, it’s a bit of both.
Personally, I don’t like making decisions. I have twice in my adult life broken down and cried in a food court because there were just TOO MANY choices of what to eat for lunch. Lunch! How sad is that?! If my husband would let me, I would eat the same thing every day simply to avoid having to decide what to eat. And this says nothing for the bigger choices in life like where do we want to live? What career do I pursue? How should I spend my money? And many other things.
At the end of the day, my life will be a collection of my choices and the resultant consequences, good and bad. For me this realization highlights two things:
1. I really need God’s help.
2. I also need a plan.
The beauty in all of this is that God has promised to be an active participant if I will allow Him to. He says that if I acknowledge Him, He will direct my path. If His Word is in my heart, none of my steps will slide. If I hold up His Word, it will be a light to my path and show me the way to go. God’s got His part squared away, so what about mine? Or yours? We know there isn’t an actual “path” we are walking along or a real “lamp” that we can hold up, so how do we get this whole “God’s help” thing to work?
A good place to start is to know and understand God’s Word and the standard He has given us to live by. God’s Word is a lot like reflectors on a dark road. As you’re driving along, the reflectors show you the divide in the road so that you don’t veer into oncoming traffic, and they show you the edge of the road so that you don’t drop off into a ravine. Knowing God’s Word gives you a set of boundaries and provides guidance to help keep you on course.
Sometimes it’s really simple: I know God’s Word tells me to be loving and kind, and so asking a question like “What is the loving thing to do?” can reveal the obvious choice. But sometimes it’s more complicated, like when all options fall within God’s will, or when I have a strong personal feeling about a situation which affects my decision-making process. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it can be difficult to come to a decision that we can be at peace with. But remember that God said He would direct our paths if we acknowledge Him. It’s a promise, so we can expect His help and guidance if we ask for it.
Then there’s the part of having a plan. Have you heard the saying “the man whose destination is ‘nowhere’ is sure to get where he’s going”? Well, it’s true. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”4 This verse has a lot to do with making your life plan. It tells you to be happy making God happy, and He will put into your heart His desires for you.
There might be other theories out there, but this is what I’ve found to be true: Determine that you want your life to please God, and then once He puts a dream or desire in your heart, take it as His plan for you and go for it! Pursue the plan. For example, if you would like to join a volunteer mission trip to somewhere, but don’t have the money (or are short), and you are sure that God also has an interest in you doing so, take it to the next step and plan for how you will get that money—by asking your parents, family, or church if they would be interested in giving toward such a venture, or you could get a temp job, etc.
God really wants us to be happy and to succeed. He knows that in order for us to be happy and successful, He needs to have us learn and experience things along the way. Just because something is God’s plan for our lives doesn’t mean that it will materialize instantaneously, or without struggle or challenge. If your path is anything like mine, it’s not a straight shot. Having a general plan, goal, or destination helps me to move along the path; it helps me as I make daily choices.
When I come to a fork in the road, understanding God’s plan for me helps me to know which path to take. When I feel alone in my journey, it helps me to remember that I chose this path because of where it would take me. When other paths seem easier, or for some other reason entice me, I remember that this destination is the desire of my heart.
God has a unique plan for each of our lives. Since God created us in His image with free will to make decisions, we get to be active participants in determining and pursuing that plan. If you already know where you’re going, stay close to God’s Word and let it guide you along the path. If you aren’t sure where you’re going, focus on living as God’s Word teaches us to, and God will put His plan in your heart. Once His plan, His desire, is in your heart, you know what to do.
1 Psalm 37:31 NKJV
2 Psalm 119:105 NKJV
3 Proverbs 3:6 NKJV
4 New International Version
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2013 by The Family International