Early on in my time as a pastor I faced a very tricky pastoral decision. I won’t go into the details here, but it was far from a straight-forward answer. I spent a lot of time considering what do and took wise counsel from those in leadership both within our church and also our union of churches. Eventually I made the decision to take the risk and go for it. Months later I found out that the situation had resolved itself and my decision was irrelevant.
Time and time again since then I have seen God call me and others towards something and while journeying the path has changed. This can be confusing and either a relief or a disappointment depending on how we viewed the destination We are left wondering whether we, and those around us, heard God at all. I have come to see that the problem is caused by mixing up direction and destination.
Often when God leads He calls us to travel towards something knowing that as the journey progresses the direction will need to change. In metaphorical terms he asks us to walk towards the tree, knowing that the tree is not the destination, but a helpful direction, for the time being. It is the same when navigating while walking. It can be helpful to pick out a landmark and head towards it, to help maintain the right path, yet having no intention of ever arriving there.
In the bible there is a story where this seems to be happening. Abraham is asked by God to take his precious son, promised to him, and sacrifice him on a fire. Abraham diligently walks in the direction, yet God has a different destination. At the last minute God alerts Abraham to a turn in the journey and shows him an animal to sacrifice instead.
Where are you heading? Has God given you a destination, or merely a direction to head in for the next phase of the journey.