It’s funny how things work out. I got up this morning and decided to do some work in the yard, cutting back branches from the trees around my house. The rain that we had here in Texas over last month really made the branches on those trees grow, and they were up against the house and banging against the windows when the wind would blow outside. Although it’s been hot and dry here over the past couple of weeks, we still get a wind blowing in from the south, and I woke up this morning to the branches banging on one window and sounding like fingernails on a chalkboard as they scraped across the glass on the other. I am off work this week, and so I decided it was time to trim them back. It is times like these, when I am working in the summer sun, headphones in, and listening to some old country music, that I talk to the Lord about things, and those are generally the times that He decides to lay some things on my heart. There has been something weighing on me over the past couple of weeks, that I have spent some time praying about, and what he laid on me was something I thought was worth sharing in an article – because it is something I think many of you could probably use in your lives, as well.
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
When it comes to making plans, whether in your personal life or your professional life, that one verse is what you need to keep in mind. You can lay everything out before you and plan everything out to the smallest detail. But if you do not have the Lord’s blessing on it, then it will all be for naught. The Lord directs us in the path that He needs us to go in, even if we resist that path with all of our worldly strength. I am reminded of my own life, the paths that wound around the road that the Lord built before me. It is true – I have deviated from that road, taking this or that path out into the wilderness, getting distracted by this thing here or that person there. But that path always led me back to the road that He had built for me, even when the way was not yet clear to me.
As you stand on your own road, remember that those things down those paths off the road look attractive now – but as you draw closer, they always show their true colors. That drug that you use may be something that at this point in your life you think you need in order to get through the day – for others it may be alcohol, or any number of other vices that call to you with delicious lies to lure you from the road. If we allow these things to distract us, we are not following the steps that the Lord has laid out before us, and whatever endeavor we set out to accomplish will not flourish – even if the end result is the same as the one that the Lord has in store for us. That’s because there are no short cuts to getting to the end of the road. There are things on the journey along the road that we need in order to fulfill the work at the end. And trying to find shortcuts along the way cheats us of that journey, and ultimately is not being obedient to God’s will.
The Lord works in His time, not in ours. It is very easy for us, with our limited time here on this Earth, to get wrapped up in having everything accomplished NOW. But that is not how the Lord works, and therein lies where I think many people get tripped up on whether or not God answers prayers. He very much does, but often not in the way that you had intended for it to happen (for He directs our steps) nor in the timing that we want (because He works in His time, not ours). I can tell you that over the course of my life, I have seen when I tried to go my own way and the result of that, and working together with His blessing – and the result of that. And even His blessing comes in His own time. The Lord does nothing before aligning everything perfectly. Sometimes this can mean bringing or removing people from your life, or placing you in a different location. It can mean Him moving others to work together with you. But once everything is aligned, and He pulls the trigger on the event, it all falls into place just like dominoes. And so if you are undertaking an endeavor and it seems as if it is much like trying swim upstream, consider whether or not this is being done with the Lord’s blessing. Or if it is a diversion from the road He placed you on – because anything the Lord’s will is behind will take relatively no effort on your part. And maybe, like those branches I was trimming away today in that hot, Texas sun, you need to trim away the things that are scraping against and banging on the windows of what it is that God has in store for you.