When we feel God calling us to new places , we may not want to go. Fear of the unknown is common to the human experience. When given the choice between safe passage to a destination we choose and a path that is unknown and leads somewhere we know nothing about, most people would not choose the latter. In our daily lives we make choices designed to meet our needs and wants. Self-preservation is part of our survival instinct. We navigate situations with our reliable five senses and our ability to rationalize based on the information at hand. God gave us these gifts to protect us. Why then does He ask us to ignore them at times, and virtually leap into the abyss of the unknown?
I, for one, have a tendency to cling to the edge of the cliff for as long as possible until the strength of my hands gives out. Clinging when God says “let go” only delays the inevitable. God does not send us plunging into nothingness. There is a ledge waiting, just beneath the point of letting go that stops our fall and leaves us wondering what we were afraid of in the first place! God promises us a safe landing if we will trust in Him…
Alone on the Ledge
Change leads us away from our routines and into potential chaos. When we leave the familiar ground we are accustomed to, we also leave the people and places that made up our comfort zone. The faces and routines that we have come to count on are not there to reassure or guide us. The good news is that when God closes a door and opens another one, you can be sure He has a purpose.
“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.”
Leaving behind the familiar is like being lost, wandering through a barren land. Recently, my family and I moved away from our home of thirteen years. You can bet we were very comfortable there! We had close friends and family, jobs we had held for many years, and events that had become family traditions. We knew every inch of our town, had been to every store, restaurant, and park. We had a church family and ministry we were close to. Then God said, “time to go”. It started as a feeling my husband and I began to have, and then little by little, through prayer and circumstances, we began to trust that God was indeed closing doors in our comfort zone and opening doors into a big unknown future. He was leading us to a new place with new people and new challenges. Letting go was hard. Like leaving Egypt for the Promised Land.
Far and Away
When God led His people out of Egypt and into the dessert, they had no idea what was in store for them. It was in this place that God would prepare them for their future as His chosen people. They would wander for 40 years and in that time would grow weary, lose faith, and disobey God. But God was faithful; when the time came for the people to cross over the Jordan river into unknown territory, full of enemies, Moses spoke to them; he instructed the people to be brave because God was with them:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The View and the Vision
We don’t see what God sees. He is Emmanuel, God with us. We blindly walk through life with limited vision and it is only when we take hold of His guiding hand that we begin to move toward our Promised Land. The Israelite’s journey, geographically, should have taken eleven days, instead it took forty years because of their constant rebellion. When they left Egypt, the Lord pointed His people in the direction they should go but they continued to turn from it.
When we are going through a time of change we need to ask ourselves, “what is God pointing me toward in this season?”
“And He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in and give us the land that He swore to give to our fathers.”
When God brings us out of a place it is always to bring us into something better. He positions us for increase. We may struggle and suffer in the process but if we are seeking the Lord, the fruits of the spirit will be evident in our lives as we grow closer to Him. (Galatians 5:22-23) We take comfort in the knowledge that He is with us.
A Firm Foundation
When we left our home for a new place, I wanted desperately to plan ahead. I wanted to find jobs and a house and a church, a new foundation. All these things represented security to me. When the things we have been relying on for stability are removed, it gives us the opportunity to remember where our security should come from and who our Promised Land really is.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
A New Land
God’s word is a road map for leading us where we need to go. During this time of change, my family and I made plans but remained open to God’s leading in our lives. What unfolded over our first six months was a chain of seemingly unrelated changes and challenges that God worked together for our good. We moved from one city to another, struggled to find work, faced health issues and more major changes than we were prepared for. We had to lean on God for needs we could not meet in our own strength. Through it all, God miraculously did a work in each member of my family that would not have been possible if we had stayed where we were.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid…”
Where We Should Live
The changes in our lives are not always physical moves. Anything that brings us out of something we are comfortable in and into something we are not used to, is either a place God leads us to for a purpose, or a place He can use for His good purpose. Sometimes we choose those places, sometimes they choose us. We can search the Bible and find story after story of the men and women of God who were used by Him in places they never planned to go and in ways they never imagined.
Moses was chosen by God, Jonah tried to runaway but God turned Him around, Gideon resisted and Mary surrendered. All of them left what they had known for the call God placed on their lives. They were not equipped for the task before them. They each faced an enormous “cliff”, but as they trusted in God, He supplied their need. Regardless of where God finds us, or the condition of our hearts, He will get us to where we need to go, if we will just follow Him…
As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say goodbye to my family.”But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Jesus is our Promise Land. Even when following Him means leaving what we love, we can be sure He is leading us where we need to go. He is El Roi, the God who sees. Take His hand and trust the journey you are on is good.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking us to new places. Thank you for the chance to see things in a new way. Help us to trust and obey, help us to remember you are our firm foundation and our safe place. Comfort us in times of isolation, fear and worry. May we take our thoughts captive and put our minds on our Heavenly purpose, for we know you have created us for good works which you have prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). We praise you for the gifts you give and receive with open hearts your plan for our lives. May we go in your name Jesus, Amen.