The Dark, Scary, Spider-Infested Forest of Your Future

My little sister Audrey slipped her hand into mine. "Let's play the game!" she said. With a wide grin, she squeezed her eyes shut. "Lead me!" Hand in hand, we wove through the crowded mall—I with my eyes wide open, she relying on my direction. Then it happened. In spite of my expert leading (I can assure you that the fault was not mine), Audrey brushed a stranger. Instantly, her eyes flew open. "Lindsey!" she scolded, withdrawing her hand quickly. "You are not leading anymore."

As I thought back over Audrey's reaction, I realized that I play the game similarly. Except, I play with God.

With an excited, eager smile, I'll slip my hand into His, and cry "Lead me!" in childlike delight. For a while, all is well. But as soon as the terrain begins to alter, I crack open an eye to take a peek.

Oh boy. I wish I hadn't. One of the paths ahead is riddled with pot-holes and leads straight into the heart of a forest. Dark trees crowd all around, obscuring my view-- and it's infested with ugly little spiders, no doubt! Naturally, I start to protest. (Just in case.)

By the way... ah, if You're starting to get any ideas, when I said that I wanted You to lead me, I didn't mean that You could ever lead me there, Lord. Just thought you should know.

I've seen Him take other people down rough roads before. They learn contentment and joy in suffering. Which is great, of course... for them. Panicking, my instinctive reaction is to yank my hand away when I start thinking in "what-ifs".

Look here, Lord, I've got this incredible blue-print for my life-- see?-- and it involves serving You this way, this way, and this way. I've thought about it extensively, and these are very good, God-glorifying plans. Listen, You can still lead me, and that's just fine, but only if I'm the one giving directions here. I really, really don't get along that well with spiders.

We all know the feelings of uncertainty and fear that invade our hearts as we wonder about what the future will hold. Questions roll in like the black plague: Where will God take me? What does He want from my life? Will the Almighty snatch away my dreams of happiness, to glorify Himself and teach me contentment? Ah! Noo!

The health, wealth, and prosperity-centered gospel confidently asserts that God will lovingly grant us everything we desire, but we know that He doesn't. The lady in my church, awaiting her diagnosis for a medical condition, knows that He doesn't. The young girl in Cambodia, sold into slavery at five, knows that He doesn't. The single woman, longing for marriage and a family, knows that He doesn't. The dear lady I talked with yesterday, whose husband left her last month for another, knows that He doesn't. We Christians don't lead lives any more charmed than the rest of the world.

Our futures will hold elements that you and I wouldn't exactly volunteer for. We're going to have troubles, and we're going to have heartache. That is a guarantee. We live in a fallen world; how could it be otherwise? But there are two things that we must always remember when we're staring fearfully at our potential forests-- and when we're walking straight through them...

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