We like to feel safe and secure in life. We like to think we know what’s coming, so we can be fully prepared for it, so nothing takes us by surprise and rocks our world too much. When faced with big decisions like whether to change careers or stick with our current job, we choose the “safer” path, the one that seems to present fewer risks, thinking we know exactly what this path looks like. Whether we’re returning to an old path that’s familiar to us, or choosing the one that is wide and well-worn by others, we feel like we are making the smart, responsible choice in bypassing the great risk of forging our own path. But God has a way of throwing us curveballs regardless of which path we choose. No paths are quite what they seem at first. When we choose the one that appears smoothest and straightest, He brings unforeseen obstacles into our lives to force us to continue to turn to Him for help, showing us that He has more in store for us than a secure ride through life.
After graduating from college, I decided to live with my parents so I could save money. I thought if I worked hard enough to apply and interview for jobs, I would be able to land one quickly after graduation. This seemed like the next logical step for me; that’s how life worked, wasn’t it? You went to high school, then college, then you got a job in the “real world.” I found myself getting extremely frustrated, burned out, and angry as months passed without any glimpse of a job on the horizon.
It took a really long time, during which I graduated, moved home, worked as a temp at my mom’s office, and went without any work for a couple months, for me to see that if I had simply stopped forcing my will and my desire for a job RIGHT NOW, instead relaxing in the knowledge that God will provide in His timing, things would have gone much better. I may not have gotten a job any sooner than I did trying to make it all happen on my own, but I would have had peace during the time I spent waiting, instead of being filled to overflowing with bitterness and exhaustion.
When we think our lives are predictable, we subconsciously tell ourselves that we can do all of this on our own—we don’t need God to pick us up when we fall or guide us in the dark, dry seasons. We think we will be stretched and tested if we choose to move to a new city, start a new job, or sell everything we own to serve in missions full-time, but the truth is this: God uses all of our decisions to bring us back to Him. Big or small in our eyes, each of our life decisions have the capacity to bring us closer to Him or pull us away from Him. The outcome depends far more on whether we continue looking to Him or think we can do it ourselves, safeguarding our hearts instead of stepping out in faith.
Taking the familiar, safe path will inevitably lead us to average, normal lives, as we refuse to give God the room to do amazing things in and through us. We instead limit Him to only the things we think are possible. I don’t think any of us really plan on being average; we all want more than that for our lives. But we follow others’ footsteps on the easier trail, seeking the path of least resistance because we think it will ultimately lead to success and happiness. He wants us to be active participants in our lives, not just passive bystanders who let life happen to them. Creating the life you want takes intention, purpose, and boldness to make decisions without knowing for sure where they lead you, trusting that it will all work out for good. That path may not feel safe or secure, but it will be right.
I have learned that when it seems like I have figured everything out, lined all my ducks up in a row, I'm likely nearing a point in which I will need to cry out to God from my knees once again. We expect life to unfold in a linear fashion, each step followed by the next logical one in the progression. But life is far more complicated than that. When we expect things to be predictable and safe, we will certainly be disappointed. We need to accept and expect the fact that things happen in a seemingly unexpected manner.
Our experiences shape us. May we reject the route that looks to be the secure one, knowing we were meant to live for more than a safe, predictable life. Let us be bold enough to take the more challenging paths, keeping our head up all the way, asking God to equip us to handle whatever difficulties we may encounter, knowing there will also be abundant blessings along the way.