(Modified from a devotional for the college Christian Fellowship mailing list)
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
-- Isaiah 30:21
At the beginning of the school year, I had never heard or read this verse before, or if I had, I didn't remember it. Somehow, though, it became one of my theme verses for the year, simply because it kept showing up. At some point, I decided that maybe I needed these words, so I'd better listen.
Sometimes it's pretty hard to trust that God has a plan for our lives. Personally, I like having a plan for the future, and relinquishing that control to God isn't something that comes easily. Over the course of this year I've questioned the extent to which I'm an engineer versus a mathematician, gone from swearing up and down that I wouldn't go to grad school to researching grad programs, applied to a lot of internships without much success, was on a committee at my church that led the discussion on selling our building, and am part of the new leadership looking to make significant change in my college's Christian fellowship. At times of uncertainty, it was really hard to believe that God had a plan for me, for the church, and for the club.
Even harder than trusting that God has a plan, though, is trusting in that plan.
We can think of that plan like a path, and visibility is low. It's one of those super foggy mornings. We can't see well very far ahead. The lights we can provide for ourselves don't help very much, just like light from street lamps diffusing unhelpfully in the fog. But that path is the one God prepared for us, and God is Light. God will show us where we're going, like the Israelites were led out of Egypt by pillars of cloud and fire. God leads us just as surely now.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
- "He Leadeth Me" by Joseph H. Gilmore
But it's not just with light that God guides us. We still make mistakes, even with God as our lamp and light (Psalm 119:105). When we take a step wrong, whether to the right or the left, God will guide us back to the path. "This is the way; walk in it." To hear God's voice, we need to be in prayer as we go, to give ourselves an opportunity to hear and see God and to be directed by God. That direction can come in a lot of ways. Sometimes it may be in prayer, in our dialogue with God. Sometimes it may be in reading - the Bible in particular, but it doesn't have to be. God could speak to us through a conversation we have with someone else, through a song or hymn, through a memory, through something we see. No matter how God guides us, though, prayer opens us to that guidance because it is in prayer that we ask and seek, and God promises that we will find (Matthew 7:7).
I didn't necessarily end the school year with more answers (though I do have a summer job). I am, however, more at peace. God does not just have a plan for us. God will guide us in that plan if we allow God to do so, and God will forgive our missteps and lead us back to the right path.