Who's leading who?
The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. (Psalm 25:8-10)
If you have ever wandered just a bit too far off path while not paying attention to any of the landmarks around you, you might have been a little 'panic-stricken' when you realized you were unlikely to find your back on your own. It is a lot easier to get lost than it is to find one's way back, isn't it? If you have ever wandered down what you believed to be the correct path, but then realized it was not ending and there was nothing really worth exploring along that way, you likely turned back toward the way you came? Why? In retracing your steps, you hoped to return to what was helpful and familiar to you. There are times in our Christian walk when we get lost down a path that we think promises something for us, but then we realize what we hoped to find was just not there. We turn back because we want to get back to what is familiar. We might think this is repentance, but it is just realizing that we didn't make a very good choice and then finding our way back to where we started.
The one thing we can be assured of is that God will show us both when we have gone down a pretty lame path and when we have returned to the spot where he had wanted us to begin - just down a different path from the one we took. A well-worn path isn't necessarily an indication it is the right path to follow. It just means that there has been a whole lot of 'foot traffic' across that path. Believers don't always get their choice of path correct all of the time, but we can retrace our steps back to where we began, then begin again. If you are like me, you have had many misadventures down a well-trafficked path but found them less than rewarding than you imagined. As I turned around, I usually caught a glimpse of where I 'went wrong'. Then I had to make my way back and begin again. A whole lot of steps in the wrong direction helped me pay attention to getting on the right track once I found my way back. Did I find my way back all alone? No, I think Jesus was walking right there alongside me - even though I was on my 'own path', he didn't abandon me to my own stupidity!
When we finally realize we are on a wrong path - the path that leads to nowhere - are we humble enough to admit it wasn't the correct path to take? Or do we dig in our heels and stubbornly just trod ahead, believing against hope that we will somehow find something of value along that way? God's leading won't contradict a stubborn and rebellious heart, but his presence will stay with that heart until it softens to his voice. At the point when the rebellion begins to be broken, he gives clear direction to return to the beginning of the path. At that point, we find direction to begin again - down the path he leads and not down the one we take the lead on. Just sayin!