Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)
You can’t stand, because the place you’re in is too narrow. You can only crawl. You can’t see up ahead, and there’s not enough space for you to turn around if you wanted to. The only direction to move is forward, even though you have no idea where you’re going.
Not ideal? Yeah, I know.
When I was in elementary school, I went to a science museum with my brothers, and we experienced the Touch Tunnel. Eighty feet of pitch-black darkness, and the only way to move through was to crawl. The purpose of the tunnel was to show the significance of sight in our experience of the world.
All we had now was ourselves and our ability to feel our way through a strange abyss.
I may or may not have been afraid of the dark, but one consolation was the employee’s voice that came through the speakers any time we stalled in the tunnel: “Stay to the left, the left, the left…”
(Try not to think of Beyoncé’s lyrics. Okay, now you’re thinking about them. Anyways…)
That was the key to escape: Keep left. There were alternate routes that could lead us off course, but because we listened to the voice, we were out in no time and free to enjoy the rest of our day at the museum.
Looking back, I knew I would escape (of course), but the feeling of being stuck in a cramped place was uncomfortable.
We like our freedom. We like to know we can move around whenever and wherever we want. We like to know we can show up when we want and leave as we please. We like the lights on to see, and we like to turn the lights off when we’re done.
When something comes in and restricts us or takes away what we always had, it’s not only shocking, it can be devastating.
Maybe your top university rejected your application or you didn’t get the job at the only company you could see yourself working. Perhaps you lost a relationship that was dear to you or experienced the death of a loved one. Your finances didn’t improve the way they needed to or an important event you were waiting on got canceled. You didn’t get the score to pass that exam or you weren’t qualified enough for that program.
Disappointments can come in many forms: rejection, betrayal, failure…you name it. Each case leaves the same feeling: You had a wonderful grasp on your future, and now it’s gone. The future fell far out of your hands before you could even reach out and rescue it.
You did your best. You’ve exhausted all your efforts. Now you don’t know where to go.
So, what do we when we’re stuck?
The worst thing we can do is stop listening.
The only reason I got out of the tunnel was because I listened to the instruction given to me. Similarly, when we come across interruptions, halts, or surprises in our lives, we have an opportunity to stop and listen to whatever instruction God is giving us.
Sometimes God gives us specific instructions in our lives that we ignore–and His instruction doesn’t always have to be through an audible voice. It can be a strong conviction–a sense of direction or wisdom that comes from the Lord.
Philippians 4:6-7 states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is a kind of peace that only comes when we seek God in prayer and in studying His Word. God has open ears, ready for us to bring our requests to Him, as Philippians says. Additionally, this is the kind of peace that will come with direction, perhaps giving the OK to move forward in a particular area or change direction, even if the outcome is not yet clear.
Another conviction we can receive is a warning. The type of feeling where we know something is not right and is not blessing from God. The feeling when we know we are about to make a wrong turn.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” If you’re unsure about God’s plan up ahead, remember that it’s not His will for you to be confused. He wants to give you wisdom, but He will never force you to follow anything that you don’t want to follow yourself.
These verses in Philippians and James mention key points:
- There will be times when we will be “anxious” or “lack wisdom”–because we are human!
- When we feel that way, we’re not supposed to stay there; we’re supposed to seek God.
- God’s will for you is peace and protection for your heart and mind (Phil. 4:7) and understanding (James 1:5).
Feeling stuck is inevitable. We’re humans. We can’t predict the future. People, opportunities, and events are not certain. But God knows this. When we find ourselves in complete darkness, unable to stand, know that this is a chance to refocus our perspective. You were never God, and you are not meant to stand on your own. Allow God to be God, and allow yourself to be a human willing to listen to Him.
Can’t I just seek advice from someone else?
Advice from wise counsel is great: “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). But if you’re never going to the Source–God Himself–you’re not going to get the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding--an insight that goes beyond what any human can see on the surface. This is because well, just as you can fail, other people can fail, too. Also, by not coming to the Lord, you’re missing out on the fulfilling, peace-giving, everlasting relationship He wants you to have with Him that only He can provide.
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
But what if God has something bad planned for me?
Think again. The world is imperfect, and bad things will happen. God doesn’t plan evil for you. That’s Satan’s job. Don’t get them mixed up:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
As John states, the Lord’s plan for you is abundant life and freedom; the devil’s plan for you is death and destruction. If you’re ever confused about who God is, read His Word–the Bible is His words and who He is.
Though it may not feel like it, you still have freedom in the midst of sticky situations: you have been given a choice. If I had chosen to ignore the voice in the tunnel and tried to find my own way out, I would have gone down alternate routes that would have delayed my escape–and I would have risked not escaping at all. Needless to say, I made up my mind to listen.
God loves you, gives you free access to Him, and wants to direct you. You’re free to choose that access. So, who’s voice are you going to listen to?
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
(James 1:5 ESV)
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