EMBRACING THE UNFAMILIAR PATHS
“Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.” Isa 42:16 NIV
I have often admired those individuals who have the ability to be totally spontaneous in making choices or instant decisions. An example of this is; those individuals who go on vacation to places “unknown and unplanned”. They will set out and follow wherever whim may take them, not even knowing where they will sleep on their journey of discovery! I on the other-hand am far more cautious when it comes to negotiating “unfamiliar paths”! When we go on vacation, I have the route highlighted on the map, reservations booked for places to stay, long lists written of last minute things to do, LONG BEFORE the anticipated event is to take place. It is a family joke that whenever “Norma/Mom/Ouma” is going to travel she has her suitcases packed and ready, at least a week before the trip is to take place!
It would seem that God must have had a sense of humor when He molded my character, as my life as a missionary’s child, then a missionary myself has been FILLED with following His calling on “unfamiliar paths” and dealing with constant change! You would think that by this stage of my life I would have learned how to deal with the unfamiliar paths on which life has led me, but they still do not come easy to me!
On May 15th. this year Glyn and I had our world turned upside down, totally without warning when he lost his job. Since that day which shall forever be imprinted on my mind and heart we have had a daily journey of the fulfillment of Isaiah 42:16. God has been leading us step by step along an “unfamiliar path”! Reflecting back on that very gut wrenching day that was filled with fear and uncertainty of what our future held has caused me to consider what attitude we should take when facing the “unknown” and inevitable changes that are a part of life.
Several thoughts came to mind:
1. Change forces us out of our comfort zone.
We all have a “comfort zone” that we protect and try to maintain. Stepping onto an unknown path takes the “familiar” and turns it into the discomfort of the unfamiliar. While this can turn our world upside down, it also gives us the opportunity to face and confront our greatest fears which steal our joy, peace, and confidence.
2. Change can be our friend or foe.
The power to embrace or reject the unfamiliar paths depends on how we deal with them. Running away from change in the unfamiliar paths turns it into an enemy. Embracing and learning from it, makes it one of our greatest allies.
I came across this quote recently which succinctly expresses this thought: “Change is always hardest for the man who’s in a rut for he has scaled down his living to that which he can handle comfortably, and welcomes no change or challenge that would lift him up.” (C. Neil Strait)
When we are facing the unknown, instead of automatically going into resistance mode, which often is my gut reflex, we need to do what Proverbs 4:25-26 instructs us to do:
“Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”
3. Change used correctly brings growth.
Approaching the “unknown path” with an open heart and mind will bring lasting benefits.
Questions such as:
What is God trying to teach me?
How can I become stronger and wiser?
What opportunities does this new path hold?
Finding the answers to these types of questions will result in a faith building growth.
You see….One change makes way for the next, giving you the opportunity to grow.
Let me remind you of one consistent thing: in life every time we think we are ready to graduate from the school of experience, somebody thinks up a new course!! Life is an EVER LEARNING school!
If we can learn when to stand firm and when to bend, then we will grow the change that unfamiliar paths take us on, will hold no fear.
If we would but learn these lessons then we don’t have to fear what lies ahead. Remember, God never closes a door without opening another one, but you must be willing to walk through it. Hold on to the promise in His Word today!
Isaiah 42:16 (NKJV) “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.”