Friday, April 10, 2015

Unfamiliar Paths

When we lived in town we had a neighbor a few streets away who was legally blind. He could see fuzzy shades of light and dark, but nothing else. He walked by our house every day. A known path.

I would imagine that the familiarity brought comfort and certainty in a world where he would otherwise be quite lost. Those bumps in the road and cracks in the sidewalk were his friends, telling him how far he had gone and how far he had to go. He knew what to expect when he got to the top of the hill or when he got closer to the dull roar of traffic on the main road. The familiar path was his lifeline to a safe and secure existence.

I cannot imagine how completely disorienting and even terrifying it would have been for him to be plunked down in a place he that he did not know and told to take a path he had never walked. How every step would be uncertain. How every turn would bring the unknown. How he would have no way of knowing how much longer before he reached his destination or even if he were going the right way at all.

It is hard to lose your beaten path, your known way in the world. It is disorienting. Uncertain.

Sometimes that comes with the loss of a job, a career, a home, a friendship, a marriage, a life.

How do you move forward? Where are you even going?

There were times in this past year that I said that I felt like the Israelites in the desert, but with no pillar of smoke by day or fire by night to guide me. And no parting waters before me.

Yet God says this:

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, 
  along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; 
I will turn the darkness into light before them 
  and make the rough places smooth. 
These are the things I will do; 
  I will not forsake them.     -     Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known.

There are times when I am too blind to see the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night. This is taking utter dependence to an entirely different level.

Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them. 

My blind friend would know the terror of being on that unfamiliar path. Yet I know that terror, too. Many of us do.

How do you move forward when everything in your life has changed, sometimes gradually, sometimes in the blink of an eye?

How do you move forward when you have no idea where your next paycheck is coming from? Or when you have no idea what God wants you to do with your life? How do you move forward when all you worked for is gone? When dreams are crushed and hopes dashed? How do you move forward when your trust has been betrayed? How do you move forward when you have seen your husband snatched from this life before your very eyes?

I would imagine that you must take the hand of one who knows where they are going. Someone that you trust.

Absolute, utter, complete dependence.

Terrifying? Yes.

But he will not forsake you. He says so.

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