When the Way Ahead is Unclear

I have this thing where I hate not being able to see my feet.

I first realized this about myself years ago when Randy and I were waiting for at table at a crowded restaurant. The lighting in the place was very low, and the flooring was black. When our name was finally called, we had to pick our way through the other waiting people without stumbling or bumping into anyone.

I’m already slightly clumsy by nature, so it was disconcerting for me to walk to our seats without knowing exactly where my feet were landing. I couldn’t wait to reach my chair so I could sit down and stop feeling discombobulated and disoriented.

Ever since then, I’ve been vigilant about making sure my path is well lit. It’s become sort of a joke at my house—when we go upstairs in the evening after watching TV in our basement family room, everyone knows not to turn the light off in the stairwell until Mom’s gotten past the landing.

“I can’t see my feet, I can’t see my feet,” they tease affectionately.

But they keep the light on, because they know I need it.

This might be one of those cases where the spiritual analogy is so obvious I feel a bit sheepish even mentioning it. For some reason, though, it took me a long time to make the connection between a Bible verse I learned as a kid and this thing with my feet.

“Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

The world is a dark place these days, there’s no doubt about that. But evil isn’t the only force that dims our vision. Obstacles like uncertainty, confusion and fear—about parenting, work, relationships, family issues, politics, our culture, the future, finances, you name it—also can play a role.

When the way ahead is unclear, I don’t know where my feet will fall as I move forward. It’s disconcerting, to say the least.

But I don’t need to see all the way to the finish line. Quite often, I don’t need to see beyond the very next thing—the next thought, the next response, the next decision, the next step. And God’s words provide all the light I need for that.

• “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (Phil. 2:14)

• “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22)

• “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

• “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27)

• “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor. 13:4-5)

• “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19)

• “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3)

• “Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

Nobody said the next step would be easy. But whether it’s on the path of life or at a dimly lit restaurant, it’s usually not as complicated as I’d like to think.

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, #HeartEncourgementThursday and Faith-Filled Friday.

20 Responses to When the Way Ahead is Unclear

  1. Lesley says:

    This is a great link you make here. Often I would prefer to know the whole path ahead and see where I am going but as you say most of the time God just gives us enough light for the next step. I think I can make it more complicated than it is sometimes. I like how the Bible verses you chose can often point us to the next step whether that’s giving thanks, showing love or casting our cares onto God.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Those are the kind of verses I need, Lesley … simple and uncomplicated. (Not to be confused with easy-to-follow, of course!) I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Brenda says:

    That’s how I feel in the water, Lois. I don’t like being in lakes or in deeper parts of the ocean–if I can’t see around me, it surely means all sorts of creepy crawlies there, right? *smile* I like your connection that it’s not always the creepy-crawlies, but regular stuff that can be stressful, too. 🙂 Thanks for this, Lois–and thanks for sharing with #ChasingCommunity! (P.S., thank you for the lovely card! 🙂 ) xoxo

  3. I love this. Really I do. It makes my need to turn the light on to walk through the hall I’ve walked down thousands of times seem normal, like we both get it!

    What a beautiful reminder for me today about our paths. We don’t need to see the whole thing. If we did we probably wouldn’t understand or would try to change it. We only need to see the next step.

    Thinking about next steps today 🙂

  4. As a fellow clumsy person, I totally understand. I use my phone as light to get upstairs every night!
    My favorite verse is “the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” ex 14:14. It reminds me not to worry or do everything on my own!

  5. Hi Lois,
    I always find myself laughing along with your posts at some point — and this time it’s that you’re on the clumsy side — me too! What a beautiful analogy about God lighting our very next steps — wherever he is leading us — and that to trust him with all of our worries, thoughts and anxieties takes a great leap of faith on our part –especially those of us who like to see the way and have all our ducks in a row! xoxo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Your words made me smile this week, Valerie. I can’t think of a better person to share my clumsy tendencies with than you! I’m no spiritual ballerina, that’s for sure, but I’m learning that taking those leaps of faith is worth it every time. 🙂

  6. Lois, I needed to read this today: “But I don’t need to see all the way to the finish line. Quite often, I don’t need to see beyond the very next thing—the next thought, the next response, the next decision, the next step. And God’s words provide all the light I need for that.” Thanks so much!

  7. Trudy says:

    As soon as I started reading this, I thought of that verse in Psalm 119. Oh, so true – “I don’t need to see beyond the very next thing—the next thought, the next response, the next decision, the next step. And God’s words provide all the light I need for that.” It’s so hard when the way ahead is unclear though, isn’t it? Thank you for these encouraging thoughts and verses, Lois. Love and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      It is hard, Trudy. I guess that’s by design, so that we will trust in God’s direction rather than our own. I love that you thought of the same verse that quickly … I guess I’m a little slow to catch on sometimes! Hugs, friend!

  8. Such a great post, Lois. I like to see where my feet are going. And, if I was completely honest, this might be in part because of my liking to be in control.

    But you’re right. Really, all we need to see is the next step. The next thought. The next response. I’m learning this in my interactions with my sons. There are times I don’t know how to handle their big, unwieldy emotions. And I don’t need to know how to make it all better, I just need to pray for God’s guidance for the next thing to say to them.

    I guess that’s true in most (all?) areas of life, isn’t it?

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Jeanne, I totally get what you mean about the kids and all their “big, unwieldy emotions.” Here, part of that is growing-up stuff, part is personality, part is the world pressing in on them … I wish I could wave my magic fairy wand and make it all smooth out, all make sense, all peace and roses. Like you, I pray for the right words, and wisdom–lots of wisdom, and strength to keep my mouth shut when I just need to listen (that’s a hard one for me). So glad to know we’re on this journey together, my friend.

  9. Oh goodness!! I have this “thing” too. It’s one of the reasons I’m happy to swim in a clean pool but rarely do more than slip my toes into the sea. You can’t see what’s coming at your feet in the sea!! The Spiritual metaphor is so applicable too. I appreciate your succint summary: “God’s words provide all the light I need for that (next step.)” Yes. Thank the Lord for that!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I didn’t think of this in relation to water, Bethany, but yep … I feel the same way about lakes and oceans. (Well, there’s also that taste thing with ocean water … I probably shouldn’t even get started on that!) 🙂

  10. I knew that we were kindred spirits! I discovered the same thing about myself last summer. We had quite a few really warm evenings and loved sitting up on the hill with a campfire and watching the stars come out. . . . except that when I’m half way between the fire and the lights from the house, I can’t tell where to put my feet!
    So thankful that this does NOT have to happen to me spiritually if I stay close to the Word.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Ha … it’s good to know I’m not the only one, Michele. 🙂 Walking outside is especially treacherous! And yes, I’m also thankful for scriptures that never fail to illuminate our paths.

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