Monday, February 8, 2010

Direct My Steps

Plans change. When I was in college, I had a vision for the future. I would graduate, get a job in St. Louis, start attending a big church, fall in love, get married and live happily ever after in a big house. It didn’t quite turn out that way. I did graduate, but I didn’t move to St. Louis. I didn’t start attending a big church, though it seemed big to me at first. I did fall in love, eventually, but we didn’t get married and I haven’t a clue where she is now. I don’t live in a big house, but its big enough for me.

A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

My dad studied botany. His plans were to work for the US Forest Service after he got out of college. But God called him to preach and he ended up pastoring a church and working in fire protection at a diaper factory. I don’t know much about the US Forest Service, but I’m pretty sure it would be difficult to work for them and pastor a church at the same time. When I was younger, I hoped God would call me to preach. He never has.

Plans are important, as far as they go. There are some things that we could not do without making plans, but when it comes to the important stuff, the stuff of life, we have very little control. But that’s okay.

I see a lot of writers out here. The vision is almost always the same: write a book, get published, and be well known and popular. That is unrealistic and it isn’t long before writers start changing their plans: learn the craft, write another book, learn to write a query, get an agent, get a publisher, and work on building popularity. That’s a little more realistic, but many writers will never see this happen. When faced with this possibility, many Christian writers respond with, “I’m relying on the Lord. God can overcome whatever difficulty I may encounter in the publishing industry.”

That much is true. God can take a writer and all of this headache that is the publishing industry is nothing compared to his power, but for every published author who says she got where she is because God overcame the difficulties you will find ten maybe a hundred obscure authors who are “relying on the Lord.” We may try to rationalize that away by something along the lines of “many of those people may be outside the will of God and they might not even be saved, so it’s different for me.” Maybe that’s true, but then again, maybe it’s not. We might try to tell ourselves that because we are special to God, he will give us this thing we want so badly, but God is no respecter of persons. We are special, yes, but that doesn’t mean he has to give us everything we ask for. We might try telling God that it makes God appear weak when he doesn’t show himself strong on our behalf. We might try “claiming a promise” in the Bible and hold that up in prayer to force him to give us a publishing contract. What insolence! It’s a wonder he doesn’t strike us all down.

Though we make plans, the Lord directs our steps. That doesn’t mean he makes sure our feet follow our plan. We set our face in one direction and we may find that our feet are carrying us in another direction. It is very difficult to walk when we are facing a direction that is different than the way our feet are going. As much as we might like to see our books in every bookstore in the country, that may not be what the Lord has in store for us. Our job is to be okay with that. I would love to walk through an airport and see several people holding my book in their hands. I would love to walk through the door at home and someone already be there. For that matter, I’d love to see daylight once in a while. But if I take a step back and take a look at my life, I can’t deny that the Lord has been faithful to me. I don’t know what direction he will take me from here, but I trust that what he has in store for me is better than my plans. And though I may still long to one day see the most beautiful woman in the world coming down the aisle wearing white and though I may still want to see my books sitting atop the bestseller lists, I can’t complain about the way he has directed my steps so far and more of the same wouldn’t be a bad thing.