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Follow the Leader

I don’t know if it is my own impatience, my anticipation of things to come, or just too much coffee but recently I have found myself wanting to rush ahead of God.

A Game of 'Follow the Leader'

My behavior has reminded me of a field trip I once "led". As a 3rd grade teacher, I had the opportunity to take a group of underprivileged 9 year-olds to the aquarium. I announced the trip to my class and watched as eyes widened and mouths dropped open. They were so excited...Christmas-morning kind of excitement. Many of my students had never even been to the beach in our coastal town. We loaded the bus on the day of the trip and I took my seat next to Jahlik, whose tough-guy exterior had already melted away in excitement. As the bus pulled out of the school parking lot, he bounced up and down in his seat staring out the window. As we crossed over the Waccamaw River, a bridge I had ridden over 100’s of times, the entire bus erupted in elation. “Look Mrs. Locke!”, Jahlik shouted as he pointed out the window at the water below.

I had strategically planned our tour of the aquarium to highlight each exhibit that correlated to the standards I had taught throughout the year, taking great care to make this a most educational experience worthy of our time away from the classroom. I might as well have thrown these lesson plans out Jahlik’s window and into that river below. When we entered the aquarium, my students darted about like squirrels in a field of acorns. I tried to lead the tour one exhibit at a time, hoping my students would follow the leader. But they could only focus on one exhibit for a few seconds before the next shiny “acorn” beckoned them ahead. We spent the next few hours in this dance as I tried unsuccessfully to lead them. The thing was, I had been to the aquarium before so I knew where to look for the real gems the aquarium had to offer. I knew where the hidden treasure was, but my students were simply too starry-eyed to listen to me.

I think God can relate. I am often so excited to embark on a new journey with God, but excitement gets the better of me and I rush ahead missing out on the hidden treasures along the way.

Hidden Treasures

There in the aquarium, I knew that I was not going to get their attention until they had burned through this initial burst of curiosity. So I allowed it but I stayed close, knowing that they could get easily lost in this great big aquarium. I watched as Jahlik darted around a corner, then realizing he was out of my sight, he turned back to catch my eye, before continuing on. I wasn’t angry at their failure to listen to me, because I understood they had never been here before. But oh how I wished they could know what I know they were missing. Jahlik stopped at tank with water simulating an underwater view of a river. Nothing was happening so he began to turn away, but I reached down and grabbed his hand to still him for a moment longer. Just then a river otter swam up from the depths and jumped onto the bank. Jahlik excitedly called to his friends and a group of students quickly gathered around to watch to show the otters were putting on. They began to ask questions and read the information about the otters. They talked about those otters all the way back to school.

Hemmed In

I am so thankful for God’s patience when I rush ahead of Him. I can imagine He looks on us with patient affection, waiting for us to return to His side. Reaching out his hand to still our hearts at times along the way. Psalm 139:5 says of God, “You hem me in behind and before.” He goes before me, preparing for my steps, as Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. He also protects me from behind, watching affectionately, protectively as I go, understanding my excitement and wonder, but careful not to allow me to wander astray. I regret the times in my impatience I have missed what He wanted to show me because I was too distracted, waiting for Him to do the miraculous instead of desiring to just be with Him.

Psalm 45:3

I will give you hidden treasures,

riches stored in secret places,

so that you may know that I am the Lord,

the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

Too often, I want to make things happen instead of trusting the one who desires to lead me to the secret places. His leadership in my life is not out of an attempt to control but to bless.

Lord, I pray you will quiet my curiosity and excitement and enable me to stay by your side, for here you reveal to me treasures in hidden places. Help me to trust your leadership. Forgive me for the times I have sought your hand at work and not your face. I long to sit at your feet and gaze upon You with wonder and awe.

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