You know that I like to run. That it’s my head space and where God often gives me a nudge or, more often than not, a kick up the whats-it. Well the other day was no exception and I finished my run exhausted yet refreshed, confused and yet challenged by a fresh sense of clarity. Have you ever felt that many contradictory emotions all in one sweaty muddle like that?
As I’d run through unfamiliar neighborhoods near the soulless hotel I was staying at for James’ State Championship Swim meet (a ridiculously proud and loud mama moment by the way) I came to the end of the path, literally.
What, are you kidding me? The pavement, or sidewalk to you Americans, just stopped. It ended abruptly a mere foot or two from the road it was leading me too. So near yet so far… what on earth were they thinking? Couldn’t they be bothered to go the extra few feet? Did it cost too much? Was this intentional? The road it was clearly meant to connect to was right there. Tantalizingly close. I just couldn’t understand it.
I just stood there panting, feeling something deeply familiar about what I was seeing stirring within me.
That’s it!! That’s me!! I’ve abruptly come to the end of my path. The path I’m certain God told me to go down. I’m standing at the end, sure there’s a bigger, wider road a short distance away but I JUST – CAN’T – GET – THERE.
Then I felt the familiar nudge of God as the proverbial penny dropped. I sensed His smile widen as His child slowly understood what He was gently showing her.
“You’ve come so far and I know it feels like you’ve hit a dead end, but you haven’t. Keep going. The ground will change under you feet but you’ll hit a new path in no time.”
Those were just the words I needed to hear. Sweet music to my troubled soul. You see, I feel like I’ve gone down the path of writing/blogging that God asked me to, but that I’ve hit the end of the road. I’ve come to a dead end. I can’t seem to get anywhere. This, this crazy scene at my feet, was His encouragement to carry on.
Do you feel like you’ve hit the end of the path? Do you feel like you’re at a dead end? Maybe you took a job you were mighty sure God asked you to, but now you’re in a career cul de sac wondering whether to stay or go. Or maybe you’re in a relationship you thought God lead you to, but now it’s stagnating a dead end and you’re confused about why He’d lead you here? Whatever your path looks like, and however you’ve ended up at what feels like the end of the path, be assured that you are not alone and there is a way forward.
Here are three things that I’ve learned from being there myself, and I hope they help you too.
- QUESTION: Check you’re on the right path.
If, like me, you honestly, truly, thought God had asked you to walk this path with Him, and now you’re questioning yourself, your ability to hear God’s voice and why He’d ask you to do this in the first place or if this is the end, go ahead, question it all. Question Him. Pray. Question yourself. Pray and take time to listen. Question the people you trusted when you started this journey. Pray.
Go over the decision making process you took before you donned your boots and set off on this trail. Oh, and did I mention prayer, and taking time to listen? It’s always good to check it.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
We could be on the wrong path, but if we humbly question, honestly seeking an answer, we’ll gain wisdom to either STOP & CHANGE DIRECTION, or KEEP GOING.
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- EQUIP: Change your shoes if you have to.
Questioning is a great place to start when we feel stuck, but it’s not a healthy place to pitch a tent, make a fire and settle in for a gap year. Analysis paralysis is a time thief who assures us that gazing up our own exhaust pipes is productive. At some point we need to trust God, our friends, and ourselves, and set off. Either back down the trail we came down or on to the new thing He has for us, because he does have something for us if this isn’t it.
If I wanted to get to that road just ahead of me, I realized that I’d have to walk on the grass and the terrain under my feet was about to change. When we change paths or push on, along our current trail, the ground under our feet can alter and we might need to change shoes. Do you need to switch from runners to trail shoes? Do you need to take your prissy shoes off and put your wellies on? Are your shoes worn out? Or maybe you’re on holy ground and you need to take your shoes off. Either way, we need to ask God to equip us with all that we will need for the journey ahead and give us the shoes He’s specifically designed for this new terrain. We may need to change the things we’re doing and how we’re doing them, trusting that He will provide.Sometimes we need to take off the familiar and the comfortable and dare to put on new shoes that are suited to the new ground ahead.
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“And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.” Joshua 9:13
- GO: Set Off on a New Adventure!
This is the hard bit. Cutting our way into virgin territory. Trying new things, putting ourselves out there, being vulnerable and exposed. But this is wear the fruit is because at this point we are SURE that this is what God wants us to do, where He wants us to be, and that He has kitted us out with all we need for this road trip.
It means we can “feel the fear and do it anyway” secure in the knowledge that the fear we are feeling is just that, a feeling. The truth is that we are doing what we are called to do and that we are loved by God.
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We can “cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for us.” 1 Peter 5:7
Let me know where you are at on your own journey. Do you feel like you’ve hit the end of the path you’ve been on for a while? Do you feel confused, frustrated, and, if you’re honest, a tad miffed? If you’ve been there but now you’re onto new turf what worked for you? How did you get out of the dead end? If you share your thoughts below you might find some new ideas from others or your experiences may bring can help and encourage someone else. Just scroll down until you hit the comments section.
A Question For You …