“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7
I watched The Lord of the Rings movies over the Thanksgiving break. Though fictional, J. R. R. Tolkien’s world sheds light on a number of truths, serving as a helpful reminder for those with ears to hear. As I think about the story, I find myself drawn to themes that align with last week’s post concerning faith.
Tolkien’s tale follows the interwoven stories of characters whose roads lead them to unexpected places. Hobbits abandon comfort for danger and war; rangers abandon anonymity for leadership and responsibility; elves and dwarves abandon animosity for alliance and brotherhood. At the start of the journey, none could foresee where the road would lead. By the end of the story, none remain unchanged. As each chapter reveals new developments, the cast of characters must respond, making decisions and following unexpected paths, hoping against hope at times, in the pursuit of good.
To some extent, I think I relate to their journey. As I read through my recent journal entries, I see the topic of faith and ignorance consistently reappearing. God, of late, has been dismantling any ideas I have that I can predict the road ahead. Proverbs keeps reminding me that God, not Joe, makes secure my steps and makes straight my path. “The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps,” writes the author (Proverbs 16:9).
I’m slowly learning how this truth applies to my walk with the Lord. No matter how much thought I give to an undertaking, no matter how diligently I study and pray in my pursuit, and no matter how intensely I strain my eyes in an attempt to see ahead, I ultimately must surrender before God’s guiding hand. If he chooses to bless the plans I make, so be it; if he chooses to change my plans, so be it. In either case, he reigns. In either case, I remain dependent. He holds the future, and, consequently, the future is secure.
I confess that I do not enjoy ignorance of the road ahead, but I believe the recognition and acceptance of the unknown should drive me deeper into the known. I do not know where God will lead, but I know that God is good, sovereign, and faithful. I can’t see my future, but I can recall his past faithfulness and love. I may not see how he will meet my needs, but I trust the provision of him who met my greatest need in Christ. Along with these promises, I read of the examples of those who have walked by faith before me in Hebrews 11 and 12, finding further encouragement that faith in the Lord overcomes any anxiety or fear due to ignorance of the future.
The author of Proverbs writes,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
Trust in God necessitates humility before him. I must surrender all to him, even what I believe to be wisdom, and trust that he knows best. And as I do this, I may rest in the truth that he will lead rightly. I still stumble often as I learn to walk, but, by his grace, I’m learning to walk by faith and not by sight. May God be glorified.