Chuck Swindoll once said something like, “If you want to see how God is leading you, look back.”
Frankly, I never found that to be helpful. When I look back over the path of my life I see evidence of uncertainty, compromise, and foolishness. I see the mistakes I made and the cruelty of others and what seems like a lot of random events.
I do see the hand of God. I see His protection and provision. I see His work in circumstances and people. He was certainly there and at work. But to look back and say that was the leading of God seems strange. God was not responsible for the fleshly choices I made. God was not responsible for the things others did to me. God was there; but, if He was leading, I wasn’t often following.
The Family Circus has been a popular comic in the newspapers for over fifty years. Written by Bill Keane, it presented basic Christian values and a perspective on children and family that many enjoyed. The comic is still written, now by Jeff Keane, and is still carried in syndication. Those of us who raised families during the years of the comic’s popularity in the local paper saw a lot of our own families in The Family Circus.
One of the things I remember so well, and was used in the comic many times, was the fact that the children rarely moved in straight lines. If told to go somewhere, Billy or Dolly or Jeffy would wander all over the place on their way to their appointed destination. On any path there were distractions and obstacles that made the goal questionable.
That’s more what I see when I look back.
But maybe there is something in what Swindoll said. God was always there. His love was never removed. There are points where I can see it so clearly. He could have rejected me, maybe should have by my fleshly standards, but He never did. He was always there.
So, perhaps we shouldn’t look back over our path expecting to learn anything more than the fact that God has always loved us and has always been there for us. When we wandered far from Him, He was still with us. When we did things our own way, rejecting Him and His way, He was still there. When we found the pain and struggle of our sin or the sin of others, He was there. He might have allowed us to go through some difficult times, but we were never alone.
David wrote something I have held onto for a long time. In Psalm 37:25, he wrote: “I have been young , and am now old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread.” I was not always righteous, but when Jesus came into my life I found Him faithful. He has protected and provided. He has always been there.
And here’s the point: If He was always there with you in the past, He will always be there with you in the future. You might not be able to see a direction or destination based on your path, but you can trust that you do not walk alone.