I was two or three weeks into my first dating relationship when I met with another friend at a coffee shop. As I tried to tell her what I was thinking and feeling about the relationship, it became clear that I wasn’t even sure what I was thinking and feeling. I was still spinning in this new experience, grappling for signs of what I was supposed to do next. “I feel like I don’t have a map,” I told her.
“You don’t need a map,” she said. “God probably won’t show you the whole path, but He will absolutely show you the next step.”
A few weeks later, the relationship that had me so mixed up ended. But it was far from the last time I would feel unsure. Adrift. “Map-less.”
The middle of nowhere
Ever since I was a kid, I assumed I would be married with a couple kids of my own by the time I reached the age I am now. That scenario would be comfortable — almost familiar — and something I would instinctively know how to handle.
The prolonged singleness I’m in now was never what I envisioned, and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that I know how to handle it. I don’t know where my path is going, and there isn’t a map to get me to wherever-that-is.
The good news is, I’m not the only one to feel lost in the middle of nowhere. In Hebrews 11, we read a lot about Abraham and his obedience to God’s leading. One of my favorite verses about him is this: “And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (v. 8)
Not knowing where he was going. Ain’t that the truth.
Have we really surrendered?
Similarly, in 1965, a young woman named Pamela thought she knew where her life was going – or at least where she wanted it to go. She planned to get married, have children, and raise them on the British coast where she had lived her entire life.
But then her sister insisted she go with her to a youth group weekend retreat. Pamela knew about Jesus, but worried what would happen to her simple, comfortable life plans if she chose to surrender to Him.
Long story short, God captured Pamela’s heart at that weekend retreat. She chose to surrender without knowing if her picture-perfect life dreams would ever come true. She gave the rest of her life – whatever that would look like – to Jesus.
Pamela realized she no longer needed to map out her life. God had already done that. All she had to do was learn to follow Him one step at a time.
Her life turned out nothing like she had imagined. God led her through her biggest fears to do missions work in Africa, help smuggle Bibles to a communist country with Brother Andrew, and assist Holocaust survivor and Christian speaker and author Corrie ten Boom during her ministry.
To Pamela’s surprise, she loved her life of unexpected adventure. Years later, she wrote “Safer Than a Known Way” — in her words, “to tell people that they have nothing to lose in trusting God with all their lives.”
Have we surrendered like that? Are we really OK if our life goals and dreams don’t happen on our timeline – or never happen at all?
Into the great unknown
In a lot of ways, I don’t know where I’m going. But Jesus does. I’m learning that it’s less about knowing where I want to go and getting there than it is about growing closer to Jesus and following Him little by little, step by step.
We probably won’t have as exotic an experience as Pamela did. Then again, we might. But her story of trusting God with her life reminds us that He is guiding our steps, even when we feel like we’re going nowhere.
And who knows where He will take us?
Copyright 2020 Lauren Dunn.