I’m a huge believer that if you do things God’s way, you will get God’s results. But what if you are trucking down the pathway and hit an obstacle? What if that obstacle is really big. Or what if you hit obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. Does that mean you made a mistake?
When I first started in the publishing business, I had no idea what I was walking into. I just had a story that my friends thought was pretty good, and I wanted to share it with the world. And then I figured out I needed a website.
God provided a web designer to help me through that, and then I figured out I needed to be blogging regularly. What does a fiction author talk about two or three times a week, every single week of the year? And then I figured out I needed to be on social media too.
So I began joining the popular sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+. And then I found out about GoodReads and Shelfari. I began to figure out the rules for each site, where my readers hung out, and how much I wanted to be involved in each one.
And then I was so busy blogging and trying to interact with people on social media that I didn’t have time to do the very thing that got me started on it all in the first place: write books.
I enjoy reaching out to you each week through this blog, and love talking to all the great people that I’ve met on Facebook or Twitter. But I want to write. I want to participate with God in His redemptive process through the use of story. Each is an obstacle to the other!
Moses finds some obstacles
As you think about my conundrum, I want to bring up Moses—the guy who led the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. His story is a bit long and complex, but I like to keep things simple when I can, so let’s just hit three highlights from his adult years.
First, there’s the whole Let My people go! fiasco with Pharaoh, culminating in God sending ten plagues. Remember how that started? God said to Moses, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). Sounds pretty simple on the front side, but Moses found repeated obstacles.
Then, there’s the whole between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place mess. If you’ve not read the story in awhile, they had the Red Sea on one side and the Egyptian army on the other. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Israelites were yelling at Moses, “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt” (Exodus 14:11).
The last incident I’ll bring up here is the whole anti-power grab. The Israelites make it to the edge of the Promised Land, and then they stopped. Literally. When the spies give their report of the land, the Israelites cried out, “If only we had died in Egypt!” (Numbers 14:2).
God told Moses go, and Moses went. Moses certainly didn’t execute the plan perfectly, but over the years he consistently sought God and strived to obey. And yet he hit obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. And some were really, really big.
Clearly Moses’s story demonstrates that not every obstacle is a sign that we made a wrong turn. Every multiple obstacles during the same journey aren’t a surefire way to know you’ve veered off God’s plan. So, when an obstacle hits your path, and you’ve confirmed you are on God’s path, what do you do?
Three questions to consider
- Are the obstacles really as big as you think, or are you allowing worry to make a mountain out of a molehill? Sometimes, the problems are big, and sometimes they grow over time, just like the growing burden that Pharaoh placed on the Israelites. But sometimes, it’s simply our own mind that tricks us into believing things are considerably worse than they are.
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Matthew 6:34, The Message
- Do you simply need to learn contentment in your current place and patience while you wait for God to work? As Moses stood between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, he was trapped. The Israelites were not in any position to attack the Egyptians or flee across the Sea. Moses was in a position where he had to trust God.
I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:12-13, The Message
- Are those around you helping you to keep your eyes on God, or your problem? When the twelve spies came back with their report of the Promised Land, only two kept their eyes on God. Only two were confident that they could take possession of the land. The other ten carried the responsibility of spreading fear and doubt.
My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God.
1 John 4:1, The Message
Following God’s plan is rarely easy, but His promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) should give us courage for the journey. Whether you need to refocus your attention on God, learn contentment, or ignore some well-meaning friends, remember Proverbs 21:30:
There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
that can succeed against the Lord.
Which of the three questions do you most struggle with when you face an obstacle?