Sometimes the First Step Has to Be the Wrong One

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We concluded Andy Stanley’s curriculum “Discovering God’s Will” yesterday. One of the points he makes is that it is important that we put on paper a vision for where we think God is directing us in our life. When you do that you have to realize that the direction you think God is taking you may or may not be accurate. That thought alone makes me hesitant to write anything down. After all, who wants to write down something that isn’t even accurate or right? Here is the deal, sometimes in order to find the right path you have to start down the wrong one. What I mean by that is often our first step is a failure and it is through that failure that we get the perspective we need to find the right direction. Sometimes the first step has to be the “wrong” one because it isn’t until we try it that we get our eyes opened up to what God wants us to see and that would not have happened had our decision making frozen up and we had taken no steps at all. The path to success frequently passes through times of failure. That is a liberating idea because it helps us realize that success is not defined by a series of 100% correct decisions. If we think success requires that it will always elude us.

I have seen this happen time and time again in my life. There are paths I started down that didn’t turn out how I had imagined them at all. 15 years ago I decided that at this point in my life I would be a licensed/doctoral level clinical psychologist. I pursued that path for several years of my life. When it was clearly not going to work out things took a turn toward what God wanted me to do that I would have never seen had I not gone down the path toward graduate work in psychology. This is all very humbling and I am so happy that God is graceful enough to help us in our failings and to give us clarity through times of trial and great difficulty.

Last, this brings up the question of how do we define the path as “wrong ” when God was clearly using it to develop you and bring you closer in line with what God wanted. From a worldly perspective we would call the path wrong. In my situation I was on the wrong path because the path I was on was supposed to result in certain degrees and a specific profession that didn’t work out. I failed at that goal. From God’s perspective it was the right path to a goal that I couldn’t even see until looking at it all in retrospect.

Have you ever experienced this in your life? If so, how have you seen it play out?

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