This time last fall, I was immobilized by one thought: What if I heard God wrong?
God had directed me to step back from several key commitments, but I didn’t know why. As a new year of school, work, and ministry started up for the people around me—and my youngest went off to preschool—a feeling of doubt crept into the pit of my stomach.
When I looked back at my journal from the months of prayer that had led to my decision, every note and scripture pointed to the fact that I had heard God tell me to step back. In fact, the Lord had been very firm. And yet the doubt persisted.
Over and over, an image of a subway platform came to mind. I was standing on the platform and the train was getting ready to leave the station … but I wasn’t on it. It was a yucky, dismal image. I prayed,
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.” (Psalm 15: 16-17 ESV)
One night as I stood at the stove making dinner, kids running amuck, music blaring, the image of the train leaving the station blew through my mind again. I felt beat down and wanted to run and jump on the train.
I cried out to Jesus in my heart, “Am I supposed to get on the train? Jesus, I feel so alone!”
His answer was simple, sweet, and clear: I saw that he was standing right next to me on the platform, holding my hand firmly. In that still small voice, I heard, “You have to let the train leave the station.” I knew then that God couldn’t begin a new work until I let go of the old.
Sometimes God asks us to go into the deep, out into the wilderness, out upon the waters for mysterious purposes. He doesn’t always say, “Go and do that.” Sometimes he starts by saying, “Stop doing this.”
God didn’t make everything crystal clear that day. He didn’t tell me why he wanted me to take “the wilderness route,” but it was the first day of a new adventure with him. It was full of twists and turns, and plenty of blind corners, but it was exciting because I was hand-in-hand with Jesus.
Is God asking you to slow down, step away, or stop something? (It might be something good, even fruitful.) If all you know right now is that you need to let the train leave the station, ask God to confirm it for you in your daily Bible reading and prayer time. Diligently seek him. Patiently wait. He will show you. Once he confirms it, stand firm with him and let the train leave. His glorious plans and purposes cannot and will not be thwarted. He won’t let you down.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24 ESV)