My family spent Memorial Day morning on a nearby lake, in our shiny new kayaks and an older canoe. Conditions were great: a bit overcast (not too much glaring sun), a little breezy, warm, and mosquito-free.
My older two kids paddled along well in their single-person kayaks, while my husband and I piloted the canoe with our youngest seated in the middle. We cruised along contentedly until lunch time, when we decided to head back – into the wind.
Suddenly, what had been a pleasant, meandering trip became an exercise in determination to get back to the dock, especially for my husband and I in our longer, less maneuverable canoe.
As the wind blew ever harder against us, I assumed that I needed to dig straight down into the water with my paddle to muscle the canoe forward. But my husband kindly informed me that using the broad side of the paddle, dipping it in sideways rather than straight down, would require me to do less work, while the paddle could do the work for which it was designed. Using that technique also helped us turn more easily and quickly, with fewer strokes. Rather than zig-zagging and wasting energy, we were able to move steadily forward.
It was just a slight adjustment, a tilt of the paddle, but it made all the difference.
The experience brought to mind the slight adjustments that God makes to my life every day, every week, every year, year upon year. I plan and hope, dream and scheme, devising my own way the best that I know how, but God directs a step here and there, and suddenly I’ve stepped onto a different and better path.
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. – Proverbs 16:9
For example, during our college years, my husband and I were just friendly acquaintances for several years; at that time, I couldn’t imagine our relationship being anything more than that. But in our final semester, we “ended up” in a class together and fell in love within weeks.
Though I always imagined sending my children to private school, we couldn’t afford it after we decided it would be best for me to stay home with them; home schooling seemed the “next best” option. But instead of a compromise, home schooling has been the best decision our family could have made. It has transformed our characters and lives in ways we never could have imagined.
Looking back at these and many other instances in which God directed my steps has taught me that there are no coincidences. If my life plans change unexpectedly, I try to remember that it’s because I have asked God to guide my life according to his will and Word.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. – Psalm 119:105
I don’t want to waste time zig-zagging back and forth as I try to take control and steer in my own way.
I want to let God’s slight adjustments lead to his perfect path for me, making the difference between a good life, and the best possible life.
On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. – Job 23:9-11
How have you seen God adjust your steps and redirect your life? I would enjoy hearing from you.