A couple days ago, our eldest and I were sitting at the table talking about our fears. I have absolutely no clue why the topic came up (I don’t remember anyone struggling with any particular fears that day), but before I knew it, my oldest was delving into all of his fears.
And as I listened, I heard a theme.
I’m scared when I wake up in the dark and I’m alone.
I’m scared when you ask me to go empty the trash cans upstairs by myself.
I’m scared when I go down by myself to the basement.
I’m scared when I don’t know where you are.
And though I could have guessed that going down to the dark basement, riding roller coasters, and speaking in front of people probably don’t land on his list of Top 20 Favorite Things To Do, I don’t think I would have known that being alone is one of his biggest fears.
He has never expressed concern about it being dark at night; he’s never had a bad dream that I know of; and he’s never shared any fears about monsters, bad guys, and creepers under the bed. So to be honest, I have never really thought of our son as being a very scared soul.
Scared? Not so much.
So as I listened to this little soul and as I thought back to the ways I’ve watched him struggle when forced to be alone, it all kinda clicked.
Our son does not like to be alone.
He wants the presence of others. He craves the companionship of souls. And as I have said before and will say again, “He is the most relational introvert I have ever met.” So why I didn’t put it all together, I don’t know. But I did a few days ago, and now I know.
And as I thought about his fear of being alone and desiring the presence of others, my heart resonated in a sweet and tender way.
See, though I’ve never really been scared of being alone (Until maybe I became a mom and can never seem to even pee alone!), I have recently found myself fearful of taking a path without the presence of God.
Now before it sounds like I obsessively fear the whole “perfect will of God” vs. the “permissive will of God,” let me explain.
Sure, I believe there are many ways to “displease” God (He is not a fan of sin and doors and roads that lead to sinful living and sinful behaving), but I also believe there are a million and one ways to please God.
I believe God calls us to love Him, love others, and share the good news. Apart from that, I believe there are LOTS and LOTS of ways we can love and honor Him with our lives. In short, I don’t necessarily get hung up on the whole “perfect way to follow Him.” As 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
God wants our hearts; He wants our trust; and He wants our obedience. Do I think I could have sung a love song back to Jesus by being a teacher? Sure. Do I think I could sing a love song back to Jesus by being a stay-at-home mom? Absolutely. And do I believe I am currently singing a love song back to Jesus by being a counselor right now? YES!!!
Again, I believe there are many, many ways to live lives that honor Him, and I think we get distracted from His kingdom purposes when we become obsessed with there being “only one right way” to do that. God loves us; He wants to use us; and He can do that in many capacities and in many ways. There is grace, and we can’t thwart His sovereign plans. End of story.
Wow. That was a lengthy disclaimer.
I’m talking about the angst that comes when following any particular path (you name it) without (acknowledging first) the desire to follow and be in the presence of God.
One of my favorite Scripture passages that the Lord recently brought to mind (again) is a passage found in Exodus 33.
Moses is getting ready to lead the people of Israel. And though he’s not questioning where the Lord is asking him to go, he is questioning the who that is leading him.
Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me…33:12
And the Lord responds, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 33:14
And the response of Moses just sends holy goosebumps right up my spine.
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 33:15
Moses doesn’t want to go without the presence of God. And every time I read it, I love it more. Why? Because Moses knew that it was the presence of God that would sustain him, no matter the path and no matter the walk.
Moses wanted God, not a path.
Sure, I want my husband to get a new job. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go.
Sure, I would be glad to foster again. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go.
Sure, I will step out of fostering. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go.
Sure, I will step out of a discipleship relationship and into another one. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go.
Sure, I will move houses and change cities. But if the Lord isn’t leading, I don’t want to go.
Like our son, I don’t want to go alone.
I don’t want the reigns…
I don’t want my agenda…
I don’t want my will…
I don’t want my path…
I don’t want “the things”…
I want His presence.
And though I can be assured He never leaves me, I want to invite Him into each and every decision…seeking His face, asking for His presence to go before, and giving Him both the first and final say on the paths I walk.
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
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5