When my youngest daughter learned to ride her bike, family rides became a regular occurrence in our home. Our course in the neighborhood was short and easy, and everyone came home smiling.
But soon enough, my youngest became discontent. She believed she was big enough to chart a new course, and a certain corner became the point of contention. She would beg to go right (the longer and hillier route home), but we would go left (the shorter and easier route). And when we went left, she would then proceed to complain the entire way home.
These frustrating shenanigans continued until, finally, I could take it no longer. I didn’t want to explain, yet again, why we would not be going right. So, I didn’t, and I let her go her own way …
Five minutes later: “Momma! You were right. My legs are stress’d … my head’s all sweaty … and I should’na gone that long, long way!”
She thought she was ready. She thought she knew better. But the energy in her little legs did not yet match the enthusiasm of her heart. And unfortunately, the only way home was the long way she had chosen. So, we persisted on. Many sweaty tears were shed, breaks in the shade were taken, and pushes up hills were offered, until finally we made it home.
I can’t help but think of myself and all the times in my life when I thought I was ready, or knew better, so I forged ahead of God with my plans.
I thought I knew what was best for my career.
I thought my timing for a family made so much sense.
I thought I was ready to serve in that ministry.
I thought the financial decision checked all the right boxes.
But I was wrong. Just like my daughter, I soon found myself on paths I regretted, crying aloud, feeling “stressed,” “all sweaty” and hopelessly lost.
Throughout the Bible, we read of God’s people going off course and finding themselves on paths they regretted too. Various prophets throughout the Old Testament came to warn Israel and Judah of judgment for their sins, urging them to repent.
One such prophet was a man named Joel. He spoke with authority and conviction, forebodingly. But also, he spoke of hope and the grace to be found when one returned to God:
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13).
That same hope and grace is available for us too.
Friends, if we should ever find ourselves stuck amid a path we regret (or perhaps are stuck on one now), we need to remember we have not been left alone. Our heavenly Father walks beside us, and there is no wrong turn big enough to ever separate us from His love!
So, let us heed the call of Joel and cry out to our Lord when we have lost our way. He is there, and He is ever at the ready to dry our tears and guide our hearts and steps back to His redeeming grace.
Dear Lord, we praise You for who You are and are humbled by Your abounding love for us. Please forgive the times we have stepped ahead of You and gone our own way. Hold our hearts fast that we might learn to fully trust Your ways and Your timing above our own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.