Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gentle Urges

"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, 
This is the way, walk ye in it, 
when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."  
Isaiah 30:21

I absolutely love this verse.
I have heard "the word behind me"...
many times throughout life...
telling me which way I should go.
How faithful His voice!
How dependent upon Him I am!

I stood at the crossroads.
A decision had to be made.  
There were two choices placed before me.
I had reached a fork in the road.
I knew that from that moment on,
life would never be the same...
no matter which way I turned. 
Change was absolutely inevitable.
As much as I resisted it,
as passionately as I loathed it,
as hard as I endeavored to ignore the facts and pretend it wasn't happening,
change had paid an unwelcome visit...
to the comfortable,
the known,
the familiar solace...
of my life.

So, what to do?

I couldn't just stand there....forever...at the fork in the road.
I felt anxiety...
pressure to make up my mind.
It was almost like the audible ticking of a clock...
somewhere deep inside...
compelling me...
constantly reminding me...
to decide between the two paths....
and move forward.

Sound familiar?
Ever been there?
Haven't we all?

Perhaps you are there right now.

How many times in my life thus far have I found myself standing there...
in the valley of decision...
surrounded by inevitable change?

How many times have I felt that dreaded pressure of imminent life-alteration?

How many times have you?

If we live long enough, chances are, 
we'll find ourselves back there...again...
contemplating which way to go...
what direction to take.

It's funny, but as I look back over my life, I see a consistent pattern at the point of every crossroads.
The same chain of events has happened at every, single fork in the road.

I have paused,
and I have looked as far as I could see...
down each path.
I weighed the options...
and possible repercussions,
then became frustrated,
and unsure,
as I have realized I did not have,
nor could I find within myself...
 the answers.

Fear welled within me every time.
What if I took the wrong path?
What if I made a mistake?
What if my decision caused remorse, regret, and heartache?

A wise person once gave me an invaluable piece of advice.
"Cheryl, before you make any decision in life,
always, always look down the road and ask yourself,
How will I feel about this decision five years from now?"

I always remembered and tried to heed that nugget of wisdom.

But, unfortunately, the outcome of our decisions
cannot always be predicted with 100% accuracy.

I don't like taking chances.
Life is way too short, 
and we only have a certain amount of time in which to live it.
It isn't worth the risk of plunging in with no guidance.

So, in every pivotal moment of my life,
I have followed the same, exact routine.

When I reached the point of frustration,
when I came face-to-face with the reality that I did not know what to do,
I have bowed my head and turned my heart...
to the One Who knows all things.
Who saw the end of my life the moment I was conceived.
Who has already numbered the days of my pilgrimage on earth.
Who promised to never leave me nor forsake me.
Who sent His Spirit to lead and guide me into all truth.

And each and every time,
I have found the same result to my prayers.
He has faithfully sent the same answer without fail.
I call it a gentle urge...
a tender prod....
from the guiding staff of my beloved Shepherd.

Sometimes, it has come through a change in the circumstances surrounding my life...
alterations that were beyond my control.
In those moments, 
as I watched the scenario unfold...
I have had to take a step back and come to the realization that God 
was undeniably providing me with the direction for which I had so earnestly prayed.
Through the shaking of my nest...
through the hindrance of my carefully-laid plans...
He was sending clear direction.

Other times the guidance I so desperately craved
has come by Him speaking to me through another person....
a friend,
a peer,
a relative,
the preached Word,
yes, even a stranger.

Still other times, He has spoken so plainly through 
the still, small voice of His precious Spirit...
resonating deep inside my soul... 
with the witness and confirmation I needed.
It is the same voice Elijah heard when he needed to change course.

Whatever channel God has chosen to use to convey His will to my waiting heart,
my interpretation has always been the same.
What I have experienced,
what I have heard,
what I have understood....
was a gentle urge...
in the right direction.

It was clear, unmistakable, and precise.

God is not harsh in His dealings with those who are seeking Him with their whole heart.
In the 35 years I have served Him,
I have found God to be loving,
and kind,
and gentle.

Only in the times that I have overridden His still, small voice,
have I felt the sting of remorse.

I have found that when I have heeded the gentle urges He sends,
when I have listened to the advice He gives,
I have never experienced regret.

When I follow Him,
I am never sorry....
five years later.

Have I always understood His wisdom?
Have I always been able to comprehend His logic?
Has the road ahead always looked inviting and easy to tread?
I would have to answer all three questions
with a reluctant, but sure "no".

Has He always walked it with me?
Has He always held tightly to my hand?
Has He picked me up and carried me in His arms when I couldn't take another step?
Has His sweet, reassuring voice continually encouraged me?
Has the sheer joy of His presence...of His approval....filled me with an unspeakable peace?
Without hesitation,
I happily answer with an emphatic "YES!"

Life is hard.
It is perplexing, winding, and impossible to predict.
There are landmines hidden at random by the enemy of our souls.
God saw him conceal them.
Our loving Heavenly Father positively knows what path is best for us...every time.

It is safe to put your trust in Him, my friend.
When you can't understand His logic,
trust His wisdom.
Heed the gentle urges He so faithfully sends.
You've felt them, haven't you?
Look back over your life and trace the pattern.
What happened when you took heed?
What happened when you didn't?

We can't change the past.
What's done is done.
Thank God, in many ways,
we can change the future...
at least the future direction of our lives.

When you reach a fork in the road,
when you are confused,
when you have no idea what to do,
when both paths look the same...
don't take another step until you seek Him with all your heart.
"Then shall ye call upon Me,
and ye shall go and pray unto Me,
and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek Me, and find Me,
when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you, saith the Lord..."
Jeremiah 29:12-14

He will show you the way.
More than likely, you won't hear a thunderous voice from the Heavens.
Chances are, you won't see a hand writing on the wall.
Most probably,
you will feel a gentle urge...
tenderly pointing...
in the right direction.

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