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Lost and Found: trusting God when the future is uncertain

A woman in a red jacket feeling lost in the woods, walking away from the camera, through bare treesI get lost a lot.

It’s not as bad as it used to be. When someone gave me a lift home as a teenager I couldn’t even direct them to my house! I got a bit better after I learned to drive, and since I’ve been going for longer walks the layout of roads has become more familiar. But our house backs onto woodland, so I’ve discovered a whole new level of possible lostness. It’s actually a woodland golf course, so you’d think it’d be pretty hard to get lost in, and for a while I thought so too. I’d wander round aimlessly, safe in the knowledge that I’d always be able to find my way back to the golf club building pretty easily, and so it was. Until it wasn’t. I walked further into the woods one day thinking I knew where I was going, took a wrong turn and…

Have you ever experienced that dizzying sensation as it dawns on you that you’re not where you thought you were, and have no idea where you actually are? When I’m lost, and especially when I’m lost in the woods, where the only landmarks are trees which all look identical, there’s a creeping low-level panic that sets in. I pick a direction and then weirdly find myself walking faster as if I can conjure a homeward path out of this tangled thicket through sheer determination.

I’ve always made it back alive, so far. But I’ve learned now that I mustn’t go too far into the woods, mustn’t stray from the area I know.  Except…

Sometimes I go walking in the woods with Dan. Now, Dan is not like me. He’s one of you people – yes you, the ones who can’t relate to this blog at all because God made you with a built-in compass. Dan’s has been honed by a lifetime of hiking and biking, and when I’m with him I don’t even worry about where we’re going. With him, I have walked through the woods to the very edge of the golf course, where you can hear the motorway. Here’s the thing: I still have no idea where we are or how we’re going to get home. I’m still lost. But he isn’t, and that makes all the difference. I have complete and total faith in his ability to lead me in the right direction.

In his book, ‘Just Do Something’, Kevin DeYoung writes:
“We walk by faith and not by sight. We risk because God does not risk. We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God.”

Life is full of uncertainty. We’ve all had moments when the road ahead seems to disappear and leave us anxiously glancing around for a new path. We’ve all found ourselves in dense forests, lost and confused, or stumbling forward into the tangled thicket of an uncertain future. But everything changes when God is with us. When we are disoriented, he knows exactly where we are. When we fear the future, he goes before us and prepares the way. When we take a wrong turn, he covers our mistake with grace and leads us gently back to the homeward path. Whatever is around the next corner, we are in safe hands. We can trust him on every possible path. We may be lost, but he isn’t. And that makes all the difference.


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