The steps and (stops) of a man are ordained by the Lord, usa and He delights in his way. When he falls, generic he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken. Psalm 37: 23-25 (Added to text)
We often make the great mistake of thinking that God is not guiding when our lives appear to have been stopped in what we have been doing. In response, we ask Him to step in and change things quickly, as so many of us have done these days as jobs, homes, businesses, bank accounts and retirements have been put in jeopardy because of these economic times. But in response to our prayers nothing happens; God is silent; and appears to do nothing to change our circumstances. And so we wait, pray, and wait some more, yet still nothing happens. We intensify our prayers, raising our inward voice to the Lord as if He has a hearing problem. Still nothing! Worry begins to set in; it moves us to really get serious in our prayers. We exclaim, “We need your guidance Lord, we need You to act, we need you to open a door, and we need something from you to bring an end to this huge stop.” But still God doesn’t act. Days go by, and then weeks; we pray again, and again, and again, but still our circumstances are the same, with no open doors and just one huge stop that dominates our thoughts as never before.
Then one day we get so frustrated with the Lord for not doing anything that we actually quit praying in protest, but then greater despair overtakes us, much more so than before. We say, “Sorry, Lord,” and then humbly ask Him to forgive us, and of course He does; He always has.(Psalm 103:12) Even so the stop in our lives continues, the steps we want Him to take He doesn’t take, and the open doors we yearn for Him to open, stay closed. This begins to affect us greatly; in fact it takes a toll on us that we never thought possible. We begin to wonder, and ask God if this hugestop is because we have done something wrong. So we survey everything we’ve done, asking forgiveness all along the way. For awhile this brings some relief, because we really think God is listening, and we are listening to Him too! But still the stop continues, no change, no open door, only hours upon hours of pleading, asking, listening, confessing, and talking with the Lord more so than we have ever done before.
Perhaps you have experienced one of God’s huge stops, where He completely ended or blocked what you were doing. Maybe He is doing that right now in your life. For sure He will one day, no one is exempt from God’s stops, no one, not even you. But when it happens, and it will, don’t blame others, your circumstances, the economy, the world, or even an unexpected ness. Blame the Lord, because He is the One behind it. He does it for your own good, because even though you think your life should be filled with nothing but open doors, God doesn’t. He knows you; He knows that unless He stops you in your tracks, you would never develop the kind of relationship with Him you should. So Hestops you in what you’re doing. You can scream and beg and do all kinds of things to get the stop ended, but really what you should do is simply relax and take advantage of the stop God has provided. Increase your prayers, read His Word, claim His promises, talk with others about Him, and actually listen to sermons for a change.
In my 58 years as a Christian I have experienced several stops. I can truthfully say all were ordained by God, none without His guidance, all key to the next open door, but most of all, each was essential in getting to know the Lord better, which was His greatest desire and my greatest need.
An illustration in the Bible that reminds me most of God’s ordained stops is the Tabernacle of the Old Testament, where the Israelites first gathered in a huge tented structure to worship after leaving Egypt. Moses was God’s designated leader, but the Lord did not leave it totally to him to get Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, which took 40 years. To help during the day the Lord provided Israel with a great cloud to follow and at night a pillar of fire. When the great cloud and pillar of fire moved, the people moved, and when they stopped the people were to stop. During the stops, which lasted days at a time, the Tabernacle was put up so that the people could worship God. The intention was to give Him praise and get to know the Lord a little better. (Exodus 13: 18-22; Number 9:15- 21) Do you see the parallel? Just as God stopped Israel then, so He still does today for you who call Him Lord and Savior. No less guidance in His stops for them, and no less for you either. In fact there is just as much guidance and presence in one of God’s stops as there is in His open doors. So relish your time with Him, and don’t try to get it over.
The Fogged Road
Danson Smith/Kent McClain
(A revision of a J. Danson Smith poem)
The road is fogged in, my Lord’s will seems hidden,
And further progress for the time is stayed;
But in good time God would again be bidden
And, waiting meantime, I will not be afraid.
Then came the night while softly sleeping,
The vision appeared–My Lord said move;
And once again in God’s good keeping,
I stepped forth, His faithfulness to prove.
No human voice conveyed the word of leading;
No human hand was sent my way to guide;
No human heart fully knew my depth of needing,
Or could assist my steps to decide.
And so, without others to appeal,
Assuredly now I began only to seek His will.
And in response God began to reveal,
The purpose for which I was to fulfill.
Perhaps you are waiting too for His leading,
Your heart longs like mine did, to know.
Rest in God, His ear has heard your pleading.
The next steps He will surely show.
And as He does, don’t forget.
He knows what He is doing
From early morning, to sunset,
Always arranging and planning.
So pray, read His Word, and be ready to go,
The fog is moving on and clearing
And what seemed so longingly slow,
Will soon bring an end to your waiting and wondering.
If feeling depressed by your God ordained stop, go outside and catch a view of the biggest cloud in the sky if possible
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. Let it remind you of how God guided Israel in its stops; let it remind you of the same in yours.
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Exodus 13: 18-22 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.” 20 Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lordwas going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Number 9:15- 21 15 Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. 16 So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. 17 Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. 18 At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. 19 Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would keep the Lord’s charge and not set out. 20 If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, according to the command of the Lordthey remained camped. Then according to the command of the Lord they set out. 21 If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out.
God speed let me know if you are going through any stops right now. I will pray for you.