"Lord, I don't understand. I'm just sure I heard you right. How could this have happened? How did I wind up in this mess? If I erred, at what point did I get off track? How could I have missed the mark when I've been trying to follow what I've believed was Your will? O, Father, I am so confused and frustrated. How can all this possibly be part of Your plan for me? I must have failed somewhere along the way and not known it."
Many times in my Christian walk my heart has cried out to God in utter distress only to discover that I had not gotten off His path at all. I had been Divinely rerouted, all for a threefold purpose: 1) some work needed to be accomplished in a particular area of my life; 2) people around me were being influenced by the way in which I was handling my circumstances; and 3) most important, it was (or should have been) bringing glory, honor and praise to my Heavenly Father.
Being the dim viewed creature that I am (I Cor. 13:12), I have been a slow learner. However, once the reality of my painfully learned knowledge took root, I have been able to view problems and circumstances in a different light and perspective. The results? A more victorious walk with my Lord.
I felt confident that I knew what I knew but it wasn't until I was reading Matthew 2:19-23 (KJ) that I saw the scripture confirming what I had sensed as being the Truth. Most of us are familiar with the story of Joseph fleeing to Egypt with Mary and the Christ child because Herod was on his infanticide rampage. They remained there until Herod's death.
The steps preceding the flight into Egypt were simple, direct, and uncomplicated. An angel appeared in a dream to Joseph giving him specific orders. He even gave him a 'why' to the command. And, Joseph was to stay in Egypt until further word came from the Lord.
After Herod's death, an angel appeared again to Joseph in a dream, telling him to return to the land of Israel because "they are dead which sought the young child's life" (Matt. 2:20b). There is no recorded hesitation on Joseph's part to step out in obedience to what he knew to be a message from God. Without any fears or qualms, he entered the land of Israel and then "when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth" (Matt: 2:22-23a).
Meditating upon these two verses, one might wonder why God did not have the angel tell Joseph in the beginning, when he appeared to him in Egypt, that he was to move directly to Nazareth. Instead, the instructions came in two steps, but, Joseph did not know that when he moved out in obedience. Verse 21 shows us that Joseph obeyed, in full confidence that God was in control.
However, in the next verse, we see that he became fearful when he learned that Herod’s son was reigning. If Joseph had known, while still in Egypt, that Archelaus was king, would he have obeyed as readily, and without fear? Is it possible that our Heavenly Father, Who understands our fragile and finite hearts, knew that Joseph needed to move out in confidence, secure in the knowledge of where he (thought) he was headed, so that action would be taken and a movement forward would begin?
Fear can paralyze activity and cause immobilization. I believe that if Joseph had known the 'entire plan' while still in Egypt, he might have had to battle with a fearful heart and he would not have so spontaneously followed what he knew to be right. He would have had to battle his mind. But, once he was already 'in motion in obedience' further direction came to him. Even though fear appeared, the momentum of his obedience kept him moving and he wound up exactly where God intended for him to wind up all along, in Nazareth. Was he out of God's will because he 'turned aside in to the parts of Galilee'? Of course not. It was his Divine destination (verse 23).
If God had explained it all to Joseph before he set out, time may have been lost as he tried to rationalize or at best, attempted to grasp a better understanding of the 'Master Plan'. So, with what orders he had been given, Joseph obeyed, with his eye on his homeland and his feet and heart in motion.
I have come to a firm conclusion about my own journeys in life. When I have wound up on detours that turned out to be in error, it was always when I followed my own set of directions and not the definite leading of my Heavenly Father. On the other hand, there have been what appeared to me to be detours that I just couldn't understand because I was confident that at the time I had understood my Father correctly. I seemed to wind up out in the middle of nowhere or else in the middle of everything, wondering how I had gotten there. And yet, as time passed, I could see that I was not out of God's will at all. If he had shown me exactly where He was taking me, I would have balked, at least for a while, until I came to a total submission to His will. Time would have been lost and at times, time can be very important.
I have to be honest, I would not have put me through all I have gone through, by choice, because I'm not into pain, especially self-inflicted. And, I'll also admit that I would not have nearly the growth and depth of relationship with my Lord. I would not have paid the price. But, thanks be to God, He knows that and works in my life in spite of me. He knows what my heart of hearts really desires and that is to serve Him to the utmost of my ability, in complete, daily surrender to His will.
One step at a time He keeps me in motion, with each step bringing me closer to His own Presence. And the closer I am to Him, the more of Him I absorb and consequently, the more of His Spirit flows from me out to my world around me. Results? My life points the way to Him Who changes hearts and lives for eternity and He receives glory, honor and praise.
Following in obedience, leaving all the results up to Him. That's what it is all about. I wonder if Mary would have said, ". . . . be it unto me according to thy word . . . . "(Luke 1:38) as readily, if she had foreseen her son hanging on a Cross?