As I look back at years of walking with the Lord and how God has led us in the ministry, I am reminded of Proverb 16:9, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (NIV)
I am sure you have also noticed that it is a lot easier to see how God has established our steps looking backwards, than it is looking forward at the beginning of the journey. Yet the longer we walk with Him he increases our faith and confidence as we experience his faithfulness year by year. Though all our “why” questions are not answered, through the good and the bad he has remained consistent and faithful.
As I look back over the last thirty years since we started ICM Canada (June 1989), there is no way we could have anticipated all the twists and turns along the way. Yet with the benefit of hindsight, that once crooked and obscure path seems to look remarkably straight!
I am sure that it is not that we have become so wise, but more likely due to something that comes with age: perspective. During the seasons of our life when we are slugging it out through every battle, our focus tends to be the bark of the trees rather than the forest and the big picture of what God is really doing.
I think of the seemingly premature end to our time in Africa, returning before we anticipated; all the financial challenges of the 1990s that we were sure would snuff out the flame of our vision, or the struggles of trying to figure out how to best train leaders and do ministry in Eastern Europe in the early 2000s. In the face of these obstacles and setbacks, the best we seemed to be able to do was just muddle along and do our best to be faithful. Yet, all the while God was miraculously establishing our steps as he promised he would.
I don’t think that the proverb, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Prov. 19:21) means that we should shuffle through life aimlessly, but I do think it means that as we seek him first he is truly the one directing our paths – even during those times when it seems we are just plodding along. I am sure you can give similar examples of God faithfully establishing your steps in spite of the setbacks and seemingly zigzag narrative of your own story. Looking back gives me confidence for the future, knowing that the One who has been so faithful in the past will continue to be so in each of our lives, until our mission on earth is finished.