|Spot the deer|
My husband was an active hunter when I married him, so I learned new things. I learned how to
- safely handle and shoot a rifle, shotgun, and pistol without injuring myself.
- hit the target I was aiming for even if it was moving.
- know I was shooting at an animal that was legal to take at that time and in that place.
- gut and skin a deer, though honestly, Wally always did that messy work for me
- take care of the meat until it could be processed.
- cook and eat what I shot.
Probably the two most important things I learned were how to
- drive a standard gearshift truck, and
- find my way back out of the bush we traveled.
I enjoy riding along with Wally as we explore the wild bush, letting him concentrate on keeping the truck from hitting trees or getting stuck in mud while I enjoy the autumn warmth, the beauty of wildflowers, and scout for animals. One day early in our explorations Wally mentioned that if something happened and he was hurt, I would need to know how to get back to civilization for help. He instructed me to turn around and look back the way we had come so I would recognize the way things looked. Trees and paths look different going toward them than they do when returning from them.
|Know how to return to God|
Since that day, I have made it a habit to look over my shoulder to see how a fork in the road or a landmark looks after I have passed it, so I can hopefully recognize the way I had traveled. As you may know from my post “Directionally Challenged” I do easily get lost. Maybe not really lost, but I often turn the wrong way from where I intend to go, so knowing how to get back to where I came from is a valuable skill.
It is easy to imagine how Moses and the children of Israel wandered for 40 years before arriving at the Promised Land. Shifting landscapes in the desert would make it difficult to recognize what direction they had already traveled, even when they did look behind. They were not supposed to look back or lust after their former life in Egypt but were to follow the cloud and fire pillars of God’s leading.
So, are we, as Christians today, supposed to look back or not?
David writes in Psalms 143:10 “May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” The apostle Paul in Philippians 3:13-14 wrote “…forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead… I press on to reach the end…” The events of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, recounted in Genesis 19, are a warning to not look back, as when Lot’s wife looked back, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
Yet many times in Scripture stones were also piled or an altar built so when others came by or the builders looked back, they could see where God had worked in their lives. Looking back gave faith to continue, knowing God was in control. Looking back to see how far we’ve come helps us not be discouraged when we see we still have a long way to go.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son told by Jesus in Luke 15, the younger son finally realizes he has wandered so far away he is worse off than when he was at home. He makes his way back to his father. There are times we may realize we have wandered far off the path on which God was leading us. Looking back to the last time we were walking with God can help us see where and maybe when we turned in the wrong direction or off the path, so we can return to our Saviour’s side.
|Adventures are not easy|
Joshua reminded the children of Israel to obey everything Moses wrote, not turning to the left or the right. Isaiah confirmed that when we choose to follow God, we will hear his voice telling us the way we should go. When we are at a crossroads and are wondering what to do or which way to go, we can look back in our lives to the last time God gave us direction, and we can know with confidence that if he has not told us to turn in another direction we must continue on in the way he last directed us to go.
The answer to the question then,
- no, believers should not look back, and
- yes, believers may need to look back.
The only way we will know which we are to do at any given time is to familiarize ourselves God’s voice and pay attention to our surroundings. When we are aware of God's presence and his work going on around us, we can be confident God is leading as we journey into uncharted territory.
Our Christian lives are not likely to be safe and certainly should not be stagnant. Walking each day with God is an adventure, and adventures are best when unexpected, unknown paths present themselves before us to be explored. Yes, even the scary paths that lead through dark forests and valleys.
|Taking words to uncharted territory|
Writers, I encourage you to not remain in the comfort of your past successes, but to step into new areas. Perhaps try writing in a new genre, or maybe take the leap from writing for yourself to sharing your writing with others, or perhaps it is time to speak, to share your message in person. Then the adventure of seeing God use your words will come alive!
I know there are things I still need to learn for an adventure that includes writing. I may be able to shoot, and I may be able to identify what to shoot towards, yet I still need to learn how to navigate the path God is leading me on so I don’t get side-tracked or take a wrong turn. Or if I do find myself lost, I need to be willing to repent, to return to where God last directed me.
In my writing and in my life in general, I am on an adventure with God that often leads me into uncharted territory.
Where are you?
*photos CCO license courtesy of Pixabay.com
Marnie Pohlmann journeys with God in Northern British Columbia. She knows God holds her hand, directs her steps, and smooths the way as she joins Him in adventures through uncharted territories in writing and life.
Read more about her adventures each month on this blog, and on her own blog, Phosphorescent.