“I want to go with you, Daddy,” my four-year-old called from the bank of the river.
We had taken a family outing to a river. In a wide portion of the water, it was fairly shallow and flowed with a gentle current. A small island stood in the middle of the water. I waded out with my father to check out the grassy island. Now my daughter beckoned from the shoreline to join us.
I sloshed back to the bank and took her hand. She stepped into the water, then reached back for the shore and grabbed a tree root. One hand gripped the shore. The other hand held mine.
“Honey,” I said, “If you want to come with me, you’ll have to let go of the shore.”
“But if I let go, I’ll sink,” she said.
“I’ve got you by the hand. You won’t sink,” I said. “There are flat rocks to step on and I’ll guide you to them. Besides, if you slip, I’ve got you and won’t let you sink.”
She tightened her grip and whimpered.
“You’ll need to stay with Mommy, then.”
“No! I want to come.”
“If you want to come, you have to let go of the shore.” After a few more minutes of coaxing, she timidly let go. My daughter grabbed my leg and I guided her to the rock. When her feet found it, her fears eased a little. I guided her to the next rock and her confidence grew. The water was knee-deep for me, but stomach deep for her. She couldn’t see where she was stepping, but soon began to trust my guidance. It wasn’t long before I was saying, “Slow down. Don’t go too fast or I can’t guide you to the rocks.”
Many years later, I had such an encounter with my Heavenly Father. He visited me with the call of faith and began leading me to walk where I couldn’t see. Like my daughter, I wanted to hold the Lord with one hand, and the safety of shore with the other. His gentle voice called me to trust His guiding hand with the promise that my steps are ordered by Him. Psalm 37:
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
Like my daughter, I wrestled between the fear of letting go of control, and rushing ahead of His leading hand. Both hinder faith. One misses the joy of following His call; the other misses the firm ground He guides each step to find.
Through many years of stumbling, one thing I have learned and continue to remind myself of is that this walk of faith is all about the relationship between me and my Savior. It’s not about living in the safety of my old comfort zone. It’s also not about the destination. The Christian life is not even about fulfilling my ministry. This seems like an odd statement, and many years ago I would have disagreed. Yet a simple observation testifies to this truth. How many people are so focused on their own ministries that they step beyond God’s leading and begin building their own kingdom?
It’s all about the intimate relationship of Christ. When many came to Jesus, testifying of their good works done in His name, He called them workers of lawlessness? How can good works done in Christ’s name be an act of lawlessness? Jesus provided the answer, “I never knew you.”
Ministry and good works are the natural byproducts of walking in fellowship with God. Once our eyes are distracted by the efforts of our own hands, we forget the relationship and pursue external things. Good works and ministry, if it distracts us from our primary purpose, can become an idol. Everything is about knowing God and learning to walk in fellowship with Him. Anything that distracts is of the world. Anything that hinders fellowship must be removed. You and I were created to know Him. Nothing else matters.
Let the Lord guide your steps. Walk where He leads, not only where you desire. Equally important is this: do not fear. As long as your focus is on knowing Him, you cannot fall, because He upholds you with His hand. You cannot miss God’s best, for He guides your steps. And never forget, He delights in your way!
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