Dear Friends,

Have you ever prayed for God to lead you?  Has there been a situation where you were truly seeking His will and His direction in your life?  Have you asked Him to show you how to make the right next step?

After the Lord miraculously healed Graham, He began to stir in me that my assignment at my current church was coming to an end.  The church where I served was experiencing significant growth.  My position was secure and for the first time in my ministry there was no financial stress.  But I had a clear sense that God was leading me to leave.

Here’s the problem:  I didn’t know what He wanted me to do after I left that position.  It was as if God was telling me only to resign my position, without telling me where I would go next.  I prayed intensely to try to discern the next step after my resignation, but the Lord was totally silent in answering my question.

The Lord led me to this passage,

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Whenever I read this verse I think of being on a high mountain trail at night.  In my hand is only a small oil lamp.  The light shows me that my feet are on the path, and only gives off enough light for me to see my next step…and no farther.

Here is what I have learned.  The longer you walk with God, the shorter into the future He explains your next steps.  The Lord may lay out several next steps to a brand new believer because they don’t have the history with seeing that God is trustworthy.  But I believe God often, with a more experienced Christian, will show them only the right next step.  Once that step has been taken by faith, only then will He give them the next step.

Have you ever known what God was leading you to do, but were afraid to take the step?  I knew that God was leading me to take “The Right Next Step,” but in truth I was terrified.  If I resigned my position I didn’t know how I was going to support my family.  The enemy was working overtime trying to scare me with impending doom.

A LESSON FROM OUR OLD NEIGHBORHOOD

On a Saturday morning in August 2011 I was to meet with the elders and give them my resignation.  I was up early for the meeting and decided to drive past our old neighborhood to kill some time.  My late wife, Donna, and I had built a new home in this neighborhood in 1979, and I realized that was 32 years ago.

As I drove into the neighborhood, the Lord said in the quietness of my heart, “Yes, it has been 32 years and in all those years how many meals have you missed?  When in all that time have I forsaken you?  When were you alone without my presence?  When have I failed to provide for you?  If I have been faithful through all those years, don’t you think I will be faithful to you now?  You can trust me!  Relax, I’ve got you!”

I was overwhelmed at the presence and power of God in that car.  Once again He was there for me when I needed Him most.  He was reminding me that His track record of faithfulness with me was impeccable—perfect.  The Lord promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).  I knew then it would be okay.  God held me in His loving hands.

The meeting with the elders went well.  As I got in my car to leave the church, my brother-in-law, Keith, called me to find out how it went with my resignation.  Keith is a deeply spiritual leader who I highly respect.  He is married to Donna’s sister, Connie.  Keith said, “Why don’t you come over to my house now?”  My first response was to say no because I needed to get to Kathy and tell her how the meeting went. But something in the way Keith made the invitation caused me to tell him I would be right over.

A LESSON FROM A SQUIRREL

I picked up Kathy and headed over to Keith’s.  When we drove up to the house, he was sitting on the driveway under the shade of mature trees.  We sat there for a while and I told him about the meeting with the elders.  As I was talking something kept hitting me on the head and shoulders.  It was something falling out of the tree above me.  Although Kathy and Keith were sitting under the same tree I noticed nothing was falling on them.  I moved my chair a few feet and within just a couple of minutes stuff was falling on me again.

That’s when Keith said, “This is why I wanted you to come over this morning.”  He continued, “I like to come out here in the mornings in my bare feet, but because of all these shells all over the driveway, I have to sweep them away before I can walk out here. Those shells are from the squirrels eating the nuts from the trees.  What is dropping on you are shells from a squirrel directly above you. When you moved, he moved.”  He pointed up into the tree and I could see the squirrel sitting on a branch above me eating a nut.  Keith continued, “I wanted you to come over so I could remind you of the provision of God.  If God loves this squirrel enough to provide him with this lavish breakfast, don’t you think He loves you enough to provide all your needs?”

Twice that morning the Lord had reminded me of His promise to walk with me, provide for me, and direct me.  What an amazing encouragement as I was prepared to take the right next step God had planned for me.

After taking this “right next step” the Lord provided His direction for us to begin Onward Church.  This has been the most fulfilling and rewarding ministry I have ever experienced.  God’s blessing has been more than I could ask or imagine.

A LESSON FROM A HIKE

At our Youth Camp a couple of years ago our students began a hike on this mountain trail.  At the end of the trail was the promise of a spectacular vista above the clouds in the Smokey Mountains.  The issue was that the trail was much longer and more difficult than expected. The leaders walked with some of those who were struggling and lagging behind encouraging them to continue.

There were many times when the students reported they didn’t think they could go one step farther, but they simply kept placing one foot in front of the other and ultimately they were at the pinnacle looking out across the vast expanse of the Smokey Mountains.  The students that struggled most were the most excited about having made this trek.  Many pictures were taken and posted of their great achievement that was accomplished by simply persisting in taking one step at a time.

God works in your life that way.  He is at work directing you to take the right next step.  We must obey by faith.

  1. Determine to say “Yes” to His directions before you hear what they are.  God knows if you want to know His leading so you can decide whether or not you will obey.  He won’t play that game!

  1. Believe that God will direct your steps.

  1. Don’t try to figure it all out.  If you are certain He is leading you to take a step, take it.

  1. By faith take the “right next step.”

Before you move on to your next thing today, spend a few moments meditating on these Bible truths…

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)

I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Onward one step at a time,

Pastor Gary