…the anxiety that shadowed too many of my days was that I should miss the path of righteousness. Better that anxiety, perhaps, than a cavalier carelessness, but the years since have proved to me over and over again that the heart set to do the Father’s will need never fear defeat. His promises of guidance may be fully counted upon. Does it make sense to believe that the Shepherd would care less about getting His sheep where He wants them to go than they care about getting there? ~ Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity
I remember my mother tucking me into bed when I was little, assuring me that airplanes really don’t fall onto houses very often, and that the trains I heard in the distance were much to far away to run into the house.
As I grew up, I learned Christ’s teaching on worry. We can’t make ourselves grow more with worry or make ourselves live any longer. Besides, perfect love casts out fear.
When I became a woman, I put away childish things. I think little of airplanes that pass by over head, and I find the sound of train whistles very soothing.
But though my childish fears were uprooted and thrown away, I have found that the fertile soil of my mind has sprouted new life.
While my earlier worries were obvious weeds in my spiritual garden, these new ones look suspiciously like the cultivated plants. After all, is not the desire for God’s will quite holy?
Yet, as I have examined this plant, I have found that its roots go down to a different system than those of the other garden vines. This weed is noxious, chocking out the nourishment from the other plants.
Its fruit looks like a desire for God’s will. But as soon as she who hungers for righteousness takes a bite of it, she finds her mouth full of bitter fear.
How do I know God’s will? What if I do the wrong thing? What if I fail?
I have found that life is a labyrinth of hallways lined with doors, with each door leading to yet another door-lined hallway. There have been times in my life when I have ran up and down a hallway, trying each door only to find it locked, beating upon the doors, crying out for God to let me out. But as terrifying as this scenario might seem, there is another situation that is far worse.
God always opens a door, and in the moment I am overwhelmed with joy and peace. I am out of the hallway, and I know beyond any doubt that I have done God’s will. After all, He only opened one door.
The waking nightmare that haunts my sleepless eyes these days is not the hallway with no way out. Rather, it is the hallway with more than one open door.
I stand there, heart racing, knees trembling, shivering with fear. Which door do I go through? Surely God has one that He has ordained. But which one? I cry out to God, but I hear no answer. I am paralyzed.
I was curled up in bed, reading Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity, a book I’ve long considered a favorite. I had thought about reading it again because it deals with the idea of making choices. And as a 24-year-old college senior, I find my life almost overflowing with choices right now. Then, when three people in three separate situations recommended I read the book in the course of a week, I thought perhaps God was trying to get my attention.
And, as I read the words of the above passage, I understood why.
I realized that God is with me in the hallway.
The hallway isn’t scary. It isn’t dark or dank. It’s lit brightly with the light of Christ.
Sometimes the hallway is right where God wants us. Sometimes we have to wait there for Him to open a door. Sometimes, we have to wait on Him to show us which door to walk through. Sometimes we have to take a step of faith and trust that God will intervene if we are making the wrong choice. But in each situation, we have nothing to fear. Our Father loves us. And, like any good Father, in His time, He will take our hand and guide us through the right door.
But until then, it’s okay to stand in the hallway.