Summertime is vacation time, and many of us have either already taken one this summer or will be taking one in the coming weeks. Vacations, of course, usually have to be planned. We plan our destination. We plan our route. We plan our departure time. We plan our arrival time. We plan our second departure time. We even loosely plan our itinerary.
But imagine taking a trip in which God says: “I want you to get in your car and start driving and I’ll let you know where you’re going sometime along the way. Until I let you know, you just keep listening for My voice at every turn, stop sign, intersection, crossroad, and exit ramp. If I say, ‘Turn here,’ you make the turn. If I say, ‘Get on this road,’ you get on the road. If I say, ‘Take this exit,” you take the exit. If I say, ‘Stop here at this place,’ you stop.” Could you travel like that? Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three Bible stories in which God instructed people to take such trips.
#1: God told Abram (Abraham), “Get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Hebrews 11:8 says that Abraham “…went out, not knowing where he was going.” Would you be obedient enough to uproot from the only life and home you had ever known and head out into the great unknown with God?
#2: Following the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, their only daytime g.p.s was a pillar of cloud, and their only nighttime g.p.s. was a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21-22). There were probably over two million people in that group, and God expected that massive horde to do their traveling by following the appropriate pillar. Wherever it went, they followed. Whenever it stopped, they stopped.
#3: As part of Saul of Tarsus’ encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road, Jesus told him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). Saul, who had been struck blind by the encounter, was led into Damascus by some helpful men. Once there, he waited, blind, for the next three days, eating nothing and drinking nothing. Only then did God send Ananias, a Damascus Christian, to lay hands on him, after which he immediately regained his sight.
What each of these stories shows us is that God’s will is oftentimes revealed in street signs rather than road maps. But we don’t like walking on a moment-by-moment basis with God, do we? We don’t like asking Him for day-by-day bread (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). We don’t like having to get up each morning and look to him for the next allotment of manna (Exodus 16:1-36). We want Him to give us the whole bakery at once and trust us to do a good job of managing it.
But God knows that the regiment that best allows us to build our trust in Him and our obedience to Him is the moment-by-moment, day-by-day grind. That’s why He gives us meal-sized portions rather than the whole pantry at once. It’s also why He doesn’t let us know the end from the beginning as we travel down life’s road.
So, if you are genuinely confused about what your next move should be, let me advise you to do two things. First, sincerely ask God for His guidance, having the faith that He’ll answer that request (James 1:5-8) by way of: a Bible passage, an open door, a closed door, a word of counsel, an undeniable burden, a specific word from His Spirit, or a circumstance. Second, as you await that guidance, just do the next thing that is right in front of you. Sometimes you don’t get the guidance for the second step until you’ve taken the first one.