Sometimes when I’m advising or encouraging someone about a life decision of some sort, I feel the heavy tug to lean on pushing them in the direction that I’ve gone. From a path for getting to the mission field to a parenting method or an I’m-finished-with-school, now-what? I tend to point to the road more often taken — more specifically, the road more often taken by me.

Do you ever ponder why it was that Jesus never healed people the same way twice? Or why each tribe of Israel had its own portion of the Promised Land? It was divided into different sections, different sizes, some east of the Jordan, some west. Some hill country, some bordering the Salt Sea or the Jordan River. It wasn’t equally divided by 12, either. Nor did each tribe receive his portion in the same way. Some received theirs and then went to help everyone else fight for theirs. Others took their time about conquering the other people groups. (Or didn’t quite pull it off completely.)

And even when it came to the actual battles, there wasn’t just one method for taking the land. Marching around the city and shouting took down the walls of Jericho, but an ambush won the battle at Ai.

Alberts Pass, Route 339

The lesson in all of this?

Well, I think sometimes we’re going to have to find our own road. And sometimes we’re going to have to let the people around us find their own road, too.

Maybe it’s taking a year off before heading to college to figure things out. Maybe it’s jumping straight in.

Maybe it’s dating for two years before it’s time to get married, maybe it’s two weeks.

Maybe it’s this method of parenting with this child, maybe it’s a different method with another one.

Maybe it’s a conviction about what movies you’ll watch or what places you’ll go.

Whatever the case, we have to honor and respect each other enough to trust that just because someone isn’t taking the road we’ve taken, that doesn’t mean they’re on the wrong road. Now please don’t think I apply this statement to the clear-cut commandments of God. But for those many times in life when the next step’s not clear cut and there’s room for the leading of the Holy Spirit, perhaps we ought to just look for guidance in the Word, offer the best advice we can come up with, and trust God to lead His sheep.

I’ve given the wrong advice before. I’ve tried to encourage others to take my road instead of finding their own.

I’ve also taken bad advice before. I’ve tried to follow someone else’s road instead of finding my own.

But what does the Word say?

For God does speak — now one way, now another — though man may not perceive it. {Job 33:14}

What a token of God’s favor that He is willing to speak to us, any of us. And how true it is that we sometimes just don’t get it! For ourselves, for those around us…we often are like the disciples, hearing His words, not completely understanding the depths of truth behind them. And sometimes He speaks in this way, leads this way, other times it’s that way.

Why does He have me walk this road, and you that road? It is a mystery we may only see on the other side. But let’s decide not to get in the way — and be a stumbling block on the path He is calling someone else to.

Keep your heart sensitive to His leading, keep your life open to His moving — and encourage the leadings and convictions of those around you, knowing that even if it’s not the road you’re called to walk today, it might be the road for you someday.

One of the words from the New Testament translated as disciple is transliterated from the Greek Akoloutheo. It has these definitions:

  • to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him
  • to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple with his party

When Jesus extended the call to a person to follow Him, one way of translating it would be that He was saying “Come and walk the road with Me.” So inherent in receiving the call to become a disciple of Jesus was the specific understanding that Jesus was calling a person to walk with Him, to be in His company, and to follow His lead.

He has a road in mind for each of us and, search the world over I’m sure we’ll find that no two roads look the same. The best way for each of us to find our road is to keep on listening to, looking for, and walking alongside Him.