I regularly talk with people who feel that they have gotten off-track. They have a sense that they were moving along at a good pace toward a well-defined goal and then something happened that knocked them off of the intended path. They find themselves on what feels like a detour, consumed or distracted by an interruption. It can be an unexpected circumstance, a betrayal or failure by another, or even a misstep of their own making. But the result is that they think they are not making the progress they had anticipated.
I believe that it’s just as likely that the new path is the one that the Lord has set out, it’s simply not going where they had expected it to go.
Now, obviously, there are times when we have lost focus, or stumbled into something unhelpful, or forgotten what it was we were trying to do, and the result is that we are off track. But as often as not, I think, it turns out that we just did not really know what was best. We thought we were on the path to some success, but God was taking us into a little training in humility, or patience, or frustration, or empathy development, or trust.
If we had arrived at the place of success, to which we thought that the Lord was leading, it might not have been a good thing for our heart. We might have become too proud, or felt too entitled, or taken credit for God’s sovereign blessing, or corrupted things in any number of ways.
What if the truth is—I simply did not know where I should be going? What if Proverbs 16:9 is actually true: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” What if the Lord is at work not in spite of, but rather, through the distractions, interruptions, failures of those we were trusting, even in my own mistakes?
We should make course corrections from time to time. But we should also consider that we might be better trusting that the path we are on is actually God’s chosen path for us, even though it leads to places we did not desire, or expect, to go. God knows what he is doing, and often, in important ways, we have no idea what that is. And that may be just the way that things are supposed to be.