When I went through Army basic training, I had to learn how to read a map and use a compass to navigate my way through the woods. Needless to say, I was not good at this. My sense of direction is always backwards. And while I can read a road map, reading a topographical map is something entirely different. I quickly learned that if I was even ½0 off, I would be miles from my targeted destination within no time. I wasn’t a little lost … I was a lot lost.
If it was just me, that would be fine, but I had a whole squad I was leading. I led 7 other people off the right path. A drill sergeant found us on the edge of the woods we were training and asked us if we knew what we were doing. She asked who was in charge and I reluctantly admitted it had been my turn. She took the compass and map from me and handed it over to another private. She looked at the rest of my squad and clearly said, “Never let Blair lead you with the compass again. If she is put in charge, help her fake it, otherwise you will all get lost again. Blair, always make sure you are with someone who knows how to read a compass.” Luckily this was just training, and luckily there were members of our squad who knew what to do to get us back on the right path and lead us to the next destination. (Later I found out that I was one of the worst privates to try to use a compass. I understood the concept on paper; I just couldn’t apply it.)
It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I’ve fallen off of the path – just a 1/20 and a few months later. To me it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. It isn’t like I stopped praying or going to church. I’m not sinning in such a way that I would be led straight to hell. No, I just have a bunch of excuses as to why I haven’t written. I am too busy. (Well, I am. I’m a full time mom, work full time, full time wife, taking a grad class, very involved in my church. You get the picture.) There are more important things to do right now then write. The only problem with this scenario is that God is calling me to write. See, I have felt that maybe I shouldn’t be finishing my graduate class. I am only three classes away from earning my masters degree in Special Education.
When God called me to write, I talked to Him about finishing. I want to finish my degree because this is the second masters I have started, and I want to finish it. I feel like I need to finish it. It is a need to complete a task I have started. So when God called me to write, I spent time in prayer about my master’s degree. The answer I received was very clear, “You can finish this degree so long as you write.” I have not been writing faithfully. And I believe this is why I have felt such angst about finishing my degree or quitting my degree to write.
Now I am in a pickle. I haven’t really written. I mean, I have written in my prayer time. I have jotted down ideas. I have ideas percolating in my head, but the true writing that God is calling me to do, I haven’t done. Why is it that I am so stubborn? Why don’t I follow what God has called me to do? I am always so blessed when I do what He wants me to do. I am like the Israelites who made the golden calf when Moses was on Mount Sinai. God told Moses in Exodus 33:3, “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” I am the “stiff-necked” people. While I do want to be in God’s presence, I don’t always want to do His will. This makes no sense. There is nothing He has done to cause me to be anxious or worried.
Oh, wait a minute. There is one tiny, little, itty-bitty thing that bothers me when I go to do whatever it is God wants me to do – I don’t know the outcome. I don’t even get to know the path I am suppose to take. It’s like those computer games that only allow you to see the room you are in and no more. I don’t get to see beyond the next footstep. Yet, God has never, ever taken me down a wrong path. In fact, when I follow Him, I find myself being who I am really meant to be. I am doing and being all I am created to do and be.
So here I am, back on the right path, for several reasons. The first is that I really do want to finish my degree. And God was very clear with me that I need to write while I work on my degree. When I was considering going after a degree in writing, I found myself scared. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to pursue a degree in writing. If I wasn’t accepted, that would mean I wasn’t worthy. That is definitely a scary thought. God was calling me to write, but what if I wasn’t good enough. So instead of trusting God, I took the easy way out and am pursuing a master’s degree in Special Education. At some point, I came to terms with the idea I might not be good enough and decided I needed to write. Even if no one read a word I typed, I needed to write. It was what God was calling me to do.
Second, my writing time is very connected to my prayer time. I have been cheating myself of my time with God. It is during this time that I speak to Him and He speaks to me. My relationship is beyond “hello” or a “to do list” I give for Him to accomplish. It is my time to be in His presence and listen. I find when I am quiet and listen, He speaks. And He speaks very clearly.
Of course, I must give credit to my Christian sisters. They have held me accountable. They have softly and gently moved me back onto the path of writing. In fact, it was I who started the whole accountability issue this past week. My dear friend Mary has been struggling lately and I challenged her to do something about it. In this challenge, I realized that I too, must listen to the call of God. And I knew it would be about writing. I told Mary if she did something three times this week I would write in my blog … as I hesitated about how many times I would write in my blog, I turned to my friend Erin. I asked her, “How many times do you think I should post to my blog?”
Her answer was the same as the number in my head – 2. (Golly, God, do You really have to put what I am thinking in someone else’s head?)
So now Mary and I are holding each other accountable, but it doesn’t end there. Erin needs to let go of her control of the universe. Sarah needs to get her butt out of bed and spend time with God. Sarah and Erin need to sign up for the Lay Speaking class. They also need to get off their butts and start a pre-school. (By the way Pastor Rob, the two of them should be speaking to you about this within the next week.)
While it might seem harsh to call out my friends, I do so with their permission, but more importantly, there is a basis for accountability in the Bible. Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing (bold, italics, underlining added) one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
In my Christian sisters I am held accountable for the call God has on my heart. And I am expected to hold my sisters to the same standards. God has placed these women in my life so that I am able to stay on the right path. They either confirm or turn me back to God for reconfirmation. They see me in the roles God is placing on my heart. And I see in them, the call God is placing in their lives. I do not want to be 1/20 off. I want to be on the right path because it doesn’t take long, and 2 months have gone by and I haven’t written a word. If not for them, it would be another 2 months, and another 2 months and before you know it, a year will have gone by.
Remember Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” So, how about you? Are you on the right path? What is God calling you to do? Who do you turn to for accountability?