The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn't fatal, for the Lord holds them with his hand.
- Psalm 37:23-24 TLB
Recently, my husband, Joe, and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. It was an important occasion for us, and we both wanted to give each other something special. About a week before our special day, my husband presented me with a beautiful diamond anniversary ring. For months, I had sought the Lord in prayer about what gift I could buy for my husband. Two days before our actual anniversary, I decided to buy Joe a DVD player. He had been talking about one for months, so I picked one up and planned on giving it to him after dinner that day. Before I had the chance, though, Joe informed me that he had ordered one over the internet just a few minutes before. My heart sank and disappointment swept over me as I confessed my own purchase to him. We both agreed that I should return the machine I bought, because his was a better deal and of higher quality. When I returned his gift at the store the next day, I decided to buy Joe a handsome new watch. I tenderly gift wrapped it, certain this time that I had made the right choice. But even before my husband completely unwrapped the gift, he shook his head and said, "I can tell you already that I don't want it." I tried to hide my bitter disappointment, but before I could stop them, tears came streaming down my face. In an effort to console me, Joe hugged me and told me that he didn't need a gift from me, and I was all he really wanted anyway. I finally decided that until the Lord made it abundantly clear to me what I should give my husband, I would not make anymore attempts to buy him something. Two weeks later, Joe and I were in one of our local stores, and he spotted a home theater system that would be a wonderful complement to his new DVD player. When he discovered that it was on sale for a fraction of the original price, he turned to me and asked, "Do you still want to buy me a gift for our 25th anniversary?" I answered with a resounding, "Yes!" and we brought the gift home that day.
Looking back on this experience, I'd have to say that I really "missed" God in my efforts to buy my husband the right anniversary gift. But the Lord used this experience to teach me that even when I do miss His will for me, it's not the end of the world. I honestly believe that when our hearts are bent toward God, and it's our sincere desire to please and glorify Him, He will turn our blunders into blessings. While I don't recommend making rash or hasty decisions, I also think it's unwise to be so fearful of making a mistake that we become paralyzed and unable to move ahead at all. The fact is that sometimes, no matter how earnestly we seek the Lord in a situation, we may not get clear direction from Him until we dare to take a step or two. In cases like these, we may have to "step out and find out." I didn't know that buying that DVD player for my husband wasn't God's plan until I actually bought it. It was the same when I bought him the watch. My plan was to have the perfect gift for my husband in time for our special day. Apparently, the Lord's timing wasn't the same as mine. And because I didn't align my plan and timing with His, my efforts proved unsuccessful and unfruitful. Eventually, I got to the point where I gave up and handed the matter completely over to God. I "entered God's rest" in the matter (Hebrews 4:3), and I waited on Him to show me what to do next. While I waited, I kept my petition before the Lord by reminding Him that I was counting on Him to handle the situation in His way and timing. I went on with my life, believing that God was going to work out all the details for my good and His glory. When my husband turned to me and asked if I still wanted to give him an anniversary present, I knew in my heart that it was an invitation from the Lord, and I wholeheartedly and gratefully accepted. If you're in a place of uncertainty today, I encourage you to seek the Lord, then follow your heart, knowing that even if you should take a wrong step or two, He is faithful to redirect your steps in the paths of His greatest blessings!
Prayer: Lord, remind me to seek Your will in everything that concerns me. Help me not to make hasty decisions, or to be so timid that I miss Your best for me. When I do make mistakes, reassure me that Your grace and mercy are more than enough to make up for my inadequacies. Thank You for promising that "though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again"! (Proverbs 24:16 NIV)
- J. M. Farro