I was towing a wagon through a narrow garage-style doorway the other day. My father was ahead of me, giving me hand signals: a little to the left, come forward, now right, straighten up, stop. And there was a distinct and conscious moment when I considered looking backward to check my sides, to make sure that I wasn't getting too close to either edge, but just before I did, I saw the confidence in my father's face. He was not panicked. Because he did not flinch, I did not flinch.
It's moments like these that you suddenly realize that you are having a theological epiphany during your ordinary life. It seemed to me then and there that this is the posture God intends for us to be in before Him, to have our eyes fixed on Him, looking for His direction, no flinching, and no second-guessing. But here's why this is not for the faint of heart. It means you must renounce trust in your sense of judgment, especially when the doorway is narrow.
In order to do this, to trust your guide perfectly and unflinchingly, you must first come to two conclusions, consciously or sub-consciously.
First, you must believe that he is trustworthy, that he is wise, and that you are safe to follow his directions. Suppose you know that he cares about the load, but he is not very spatial or good with direction, your doubt will certainly cause you to second-guess his directions. It is crucial that you rightly have every confidence in his ability to guide you.
Second, you must also believe that your guide cares about your load as much as, if not more than, you do. He may have good direction, but if he doesn't care about your load he may be careless. To trust him perfectly, you must also trust his level of investment in your load.
If one of these two is lacking, you will flinch. You will defer to your own judgment and take a look back at the sides to see if you will pass through safely. This is true when backing up a wagon, and it is true in our Christian walk.
Think of Lot's wife. Mercifully, God offered her family deliverance from the promised judgment that was coming to Sodom and that with one instruction: do not look back. The Guide was before them, calling them forward and saying, keep your eyes on Me. Trust Me. But she took her eyes off of the Lord; she withdrew her trust. And she paid dearly for it.
Or think of Peter, getting out of the boat. He asked the Lord, guide me, and Jesus was willing. He called Peter out, come forward. But the water was churning and all the evidence pointed to the absurdity of what he was trying to do; then how quickly did Peter take his eyes off of his Lord's face. Peter second-guessed; he checked his sides. He panicked and he sank. But the Lord rescued him.
Better still, think of Abraham, knife-in-hand, looking into the eyes of his promised and long-awaited son laying on the altar. Oh, how he must have longed to resort to his own judgment. Time after time after time in Biblical history, God directed His people; some followed, many instead trusted their own hearts.
And we, "pilgrims through this barren land,"* we have been given so much more than hand-gestures. He directs us through His word, which we know is "God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16). Like so many before you, you too must decide in whom you will put your trust. Yourself? Are you looking back, checking your sides? "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
So, let us ask these two questions as we look for guidance:
Is our Guide able? Read Psalm 34 and be assured that "…the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing" (verses 8-9). See how, time after time, He led His people safely, through the parted sea, through the fiery furnace, through the "valley of the shadow of death."
Does He care for your load? Put yourself in Thomas' place as our Savior showed him the wound in His side, then "Stop doubting and believe" in Him who followed the Father perfectly, "led like a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7). Read in 1 Peter 5:7 that you can "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" and know that the load you carry is safe in His hands.
His instructions could not be clearer than those He gave to Israel in Joshua 1:7. "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go." Follow Him; trust Him. Keep your eyes fixed on His word. Do not flinch and He will lead you "all [your] journey through."*
* - Title and quotes are taken from the hymn: "Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah" by William Williams (1745).