Shaping Your Path
Most of these posts are written in my mind while I walk a path through the woods near my house. I love walking on that path. It is so peaceful and serene. But here is an interesting question: Why do I stay on the path? I am free to walk anywhere in the woods. I choose to stay on the path for many reasons, but probably most of all because it is there for me to walk on. I'm less likely to get scratched by thorns or blocked by trees. It is the way forward. It is the path that was created for me to enjoy. In the same way, we all have a spiritual path that God is shaping for us.
Listen to how Proverbs 19:20-23 puts it:
"Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.
The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble."
I'd like to focus on this line: Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Essentially, God has shaped your path. I read a book on leadership a while back that talked about "shaping the path" as a way to lead people in a certain direction. Probably the best example of this is shopping at IKEA. It is very difficult to shop there without coming home with more than you intended. They have literally shaped the path you walk through the store with arrows directing you every step of the way. As a result, they get you to buy more. Recently it hit me that God is always shaping our path, but not to manipulate us. God shapes our path to help us grow. If we pay attention we can clearly see some doors opening before us and others closing behind us. The goal of this process is to mold our hearts in a such a way that "leads to life."
In what ways do you see God shaping your path today? Start with the challenges you are facing. What does God want you learn from these trials? What internal growth may take place as a result? The life of faith is always an adventure. You have many plans in your heart, but in the end, God's purpose is what will prevail. However, you get to co-create the path with God. You have a choice every step of the way. You don't have to walk the path God sets before you. You don't have to grow. You may think that if everything in your life went exactly as you wanted it to, you would feel good all the time. But God knows that what you really need, what you really desire, is unfailing love. And sometimes you can see that you are loved more clearly when life doesn't go your way. Then you can "rest content, untouched by trouble." This doesn't mean trouble never comes your way. It means that when it does, it doesn't disturb your inner peace.
I invite you to delight in the path God is shaping for you this week. Join in the adventure of walking on this path. Recognize that you don't need everything to go your way. You only need to know that you are loved with each step you take.
May you walk confidently on this path this week knowing that it leads to life.