If you wander off the road to the right or the left,
you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it.”
Isaiah 30:21 Good News Translation
More than fifteen years ago, I had a vivid dream in which I saw myself walking alone down an African road. It was dusty and unpaved but as I walked along my heart was so happy, even though the air temperature was hot, and I was physically uncomfortable. I came to a body of water that sparkled in the sunlight and looked so refreshing. I decided to jump in and cool off for a moment, before continuing down the road. Just as I was in midair leaping into the water, a huge hand came out of heaven and scooped me up before I touched the water and set me down on the shore. The dream ended. As I was about to open my eyes, I heard the words, “I will protect you from unseen dangers in Africa.”
I have thought about that dream many times over the years and considered the meaning of its symbolism. If a person foolishly jumped into an unfamiliar body of water in Africa, it would not be uncommon to encounter crocodiles or other harmful creatures. So, for me, the most profound imagery in the dream was the hand of God protecting and delivering me, even in my ignorance of the danger.
I have learned this truth in walking with God - God protects, guides and provides for those who are willing to walk down the road He directs. That does not mean there are no dangers to be faced or hardships to overcome along that road. Jesus told His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation…” but He also told them that through Him they were overcomers. Paul the apostle wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12 – “… all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Paul experienced more hardships and persecution during his ministry than most can imagine – imprisonment, false accusations, hunger, shipwreck, and physical assaults for preaching the Gospel. But his relationship with God was so deep and trusting that he could write, “…none of these things move me.” (Acts 20:24) God wants us to WALK DOWN THIS ROAD with that same confident faith-filled attitude.
Another important thing I have learned is that once you embark on “the road” God instructed you to take, temptations will materialize enticing you to take a detour or simply turn back. This is a strategic assault of the enemy of your soul – Satan – to discourage you from walking down God’s road for your life. This onslaught will take various forms and will insert itself at different points along the road. It is vital that you recognize that these experiences are not random but instead are cleverly designed demonic strategies intended to halt your forward progress. Examine the following five ploys of the enemy and see if you have experienced any of these in your life.
- Voices of other people will discourage you from walking down God’s road – calling you foolish, misguided, or unwise. When a person has received a call or direction from God for his/her life, the first obstacle that must be overcome is the pull of other people including those closest and most beloved. This is a test of obedience to God and is (emotionally) one of the hardest to walk through. I remember many years ago, a young married couple coming for prayer because they felt the call of God to go as missionaries to a certain Asian nation. They were struggling with their decision because their close-knit family, who loved them so dearly, did not want them to go to that far away and dangerous land. In the end, they never walked down that road – because the voices of other people, drowned out the voice of God.
- You will encounter difficulties and discomfort which will cause you to question whether you took the right road. A false assumption common among Christians is that once you have heard from God and have begun to walk down His road for your life, everything will fall into place and run smoothly. This thought pattern can lead you to wonder if you missed God’s will when circumstances become challenging. Many people are sidelined when they fall into this trap, mistakenly believing they missed God’s road just because the going got a little rough. Don’t let this elementary tactic of the devil knock you off God’s path for your life. Everyone on this earth faces adversity, but Romans 8:37 promises “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” There is no circumstance in life that cannot be overcome by faith in the power of God. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. (1 John 5:4 NLT) Apply your faith to your adversity and watch God overcome it.
- Thoughts will assail your mind suggesting you didn’t hear God and urging you to turn around before it is too late. When you are first learning to hear the voice of God, the devil works overtime to inject doubt about whether you are truly hearing from God, or just listening to your own thoughts. As you mature in this area of hearing God’s voice, the enemy does not give up. Then when you take a step of faith and obedience to walk down the road of God’s leading, Satan will increase the attack on your mind by insisting you are making a big mistake. He will accuse you of not hearing God but following your own fleshly desires. Then he will goad you to turn back before disaster occurs. Those are the times you must go back to the word the Lord spoke to you and HOLD FAST to it, regardless of the assault on your mind. A missionary elder statesman I deeply respected was fond of saying, “Don’t doubt in the dark what you heard in the light.” I have considered that wise saying many times over the years, and it has been a great help.
- Alternative roads will suddenly appear – which look easier and more attractive than the road you are on. Once you have embarked on God’s road, and have overcome the pressure of people’s opinions, ignored difficulties along the road and resisted the attacks of doubt upon your mind, you must continue by faith even when the road is long and the work laborious. It is at those moments an alluring temptation will be presented. This ploy will often appear when you are weary and struggling to keep going. It is the offer of an alternative route – a detour – which promises to get you to the same place you are headed but by an easier road. The alternate will appear to be equivalent to the road you are on and promises to deliver the same (or greater) results. But the detour is a trap, and it will not accomplish the will of God. As attractive and logical as this alternate route may appear, you must reject it. Walk down the road God has given you and don’t take ANY detours!
- You will run into brick walls that appear immovable and will sorely tempt you to give up. When you have been faithfully following God’s road and making some measure of progress, the enemy will increase pressure upon you to give up. Suddenly, roadblocks which look like immovable brick walls will block your way forward. The temptation to give up and turn back will be great. Those times will require you to press into the Lord for both His grace to carry on and His wisdom to know the next step to take - when it looks like there are no steps that can be taken! I have been living in Africa trying to accomplish a specific task the Lord has given me. One brick wall after another has appeared as I have moved down this road of obedience to God. The only way I have continued to press on (and not give up and return to America) has been by praying daily before I get out of bed for GRACE and WISDOM. And God has been faithful to answer those prayers and assist me each day. I have counted on the following scriptural promises, and I encourage you to do the same: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5 NLT)
Once you have heard from God, don’t let anything deter you from remaining on His road. In the end, it will bring forth a fruitfulness in your life that has no comparison with the earthly paths you could choose to follow.
“This is the right road. Walk down this road.”
Isaiah 30:21b (Message Translation)