Remembering How God Has Led

I don’t know what triggered my trip down memory lane. I sat with my Daily Light open but unread, and began to pray for God to open my understanding and speak to my heart from His Word.

I thought back with wonder of the many different paths my life could have taken. Several events led to my salvation. What if one of them hadn’t happened?

There were different temptations, some of which I regret failing. I could have been done in by any of them.

My life could have followed any number of paths, not just theoretically, but due to influences at the time. I could have become an alcoholic. I had planned to get married right out of high school, not realizing I would be marrying the wrong person. I not only would have missed meeting my wonderful husband, but I would not have experienced all I learned both intellectually and spiritually at a Christian college.

I could have fallen for a television evangelist’s false doctrine (I actually called the number on the screen once). People are so vulnerable just before and after salvation, when their interest in the Lord is aroused but they have no discernment yet.

In 8th or 9th grade, we moved to a new town. The school I attended was the most cliquish place I had ever been. Well-defined groups didn’t allow for new members. My mom had to plead and almost push me out of the car at school in the mornings. I spent many lunch breaks walking around the grounds by myself in tears. Finally I became friends with another girl who was also, for some unknown reason, outside the school’s social circles. I discovered years later that it was the Lord’s mercy that kept me from getting involved with the popular crowd, as they were into a lot of unhealthy activities. What if I had gotten in with them? I probably would have gotten into some kind of trouble and possibly would have become proud and condescending.

Between my sophomore and junior year, my mother left my father and took my siblings and me to Houston. The break had been coming for years, but it still hurt when it finally happened. We moved from a very small town of less than 200 to the teeming metropolis of Houston. The culture shock was very real. In those days before the Internet, I had little contact with my friends from school. I had no opportunity to make new friends since school wouldn’t start for months yet. It was the loneliest time in my life. I remember lying on my bed clinging desperately to Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Looking back, I didn’t know fully what that verse meant. But I knew that, to the degree I knew how, I loved God, and I trusted Him to work things out for good. Though that was one of the lowest points in my life, it was also pivotal. It was through this move that God provided miraculously for me to go to a Christian school for two years, led me to a good church, helped me make sure of my salvation, and let me know about a Christian college.

Somehow God led me all the way.

My heart was tender thinking back over God’s working in my life. As I opened my Bible reading for the day, I came to Deuteronomy 8:2: “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness.” It’s amazing how God prepares me for what I am going to encounter in His Word. I thought my mental wanderings about my past were just daydreams and rabbit trails, but here He had led me to do just what the Scripture said.

Several times in Deuteronomy 8, Moses urged the Israelites to remember the Lord and not forget Him. Peter wanted “to stir you up by way of reminder” (2 Peter 1:13; 3:1). Jesus told the Ephesian church, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2:4). As God called Israel, back to Himself, He said, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown” (Jeremiah 2:2).

This is what I most want my children, grandchildren, readers, and anyone with whom I have any influence to know, to remember: that Christianity is not just a culture, not just a set of doctrines, not just what we do and don’t do. It is the basis of all of those. But first of all it’s that personal relationship with the Lord.

Do you have that? Have there been times in your life you knew God was at work in you, drawing you to Himself? Do you have warm and tender moments where He met with you personally?

If you professed faith as a young child, you may not remember a definite “before” and “after” to your life of faith. But you can be grateful for God’s preventative work in your life and the scars and bad memories He kept you from. As you’ve walked with the Lord, I am sure you’ve found that the “big sins” are not always the dramatic ones that everyone sees. Inner wrestlings with pride and self-will are just as deadly. You’ve discovered that it takes as much of God’s grace to battle those as it does to defeat addiction. You’ve probably experienced times when God answered prayer or something in His Word met your need of the moment. It’s not the drama of one’s initial testimony that determines what kind of Christian life we have: it’s simple faith, not in our faith, but in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Nothing stirs up our love and gratitude towards the Lord like remembering how He saved us and led us. It’s a blessing to sometimes review the “Ebenezers,” those special times of help that we’ve experienced along the way. Then we can say along with the psalmist:

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
 when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
 for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
 My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:5-8

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

26 thoughts on “Remembering How God Has Led

  1. Joining you in thanksgiving, Barbara. My life could have gone off the rails at so many points. This alone is sufficient cause for deep gratitude.

    • Amen. I think, too, of things like going to pick my kids up from school, then coming back and seeing a wreck on the road I was on just minutes before. If I had been just a few minutes later….Sometimes I wonder if one of the things we’ll do in heaven is hear from God about some of His behind-the-scenes maneuvering on our behalf.

  2. Great, great post. I often wonder, as we all do I’m sure, how my life would have turned out had I done such and such in high school….or if I hadn’t gone to a Christian college. I never would have met the wonderful people who had such an impact on my life! Thanks for posting this!

    • Thanks, Leigh. Reminds me of the verse about people making their plans, yet God is guiding their steps. I’m so glad He does. There are things I thought I wanted that He steered me away from, and I am so glad now.

  3. I’m so thankful too that the Lord led me AWAY from certain choices and TOWARD other choices. And even when we did make poor choices, he redirected us to his goodness and beauty. I’m grateful.

  4. Enjoyed reading your heartfelt post. So many things in life when looking back, one can see God’s hand in it. Praises and Thankful for each. Happy week.

  5. Joining you in being grateful for the way God has been with me all of my life. Most precious to me!

  6. I grew up out of church and when I did begin going, it was my teen years. I was very religious but didn’t know Jesus. What a difference! I can look back and see moments where God plainly intervened and put me on the right track. But I was also a bit rebellious and made unwise decisions which haunted me for years. The advantage of being older and having been a Christian for a long time, is that you can look back and see paths not taken when God warned you and you have a clearer understanding of God’s workings in your life. It’s all about trust.

  7. “It’s not the drama of one’s initial testimony that determines what kind of Christian life we have: it’s simple faith, not in our faith, but in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”
    This truth spoke to me this morning. Thank you.

  8. I just discovered your blog via Tim Challies. Love your writing and would
    Like to continue reading your posts/articles.

  9. This is a beautiful post, Barbara! Thanks for sharing part of your journey. I agree, when I look back there are many times when I can see God’s work when I couldn’t see it at the time and I can see how some of the more painful experiences have been worked for good.

  10. Thank you for sharing this post and part of your journey. I am sure it is encouraging to many, and helps us to look back in our own lives and see the guiding hand of God, understanding that God was with us, even if we did not know it. Blessings, Michele

  11. I love this post. So many times, God’s closed doors, not to hinder me, but to protect me. So thankful for his gift of grace and redemption.

  12. I always love that verse in Michah–Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord. (6:5b). It is good to remember our journey, to remember God’s work in our lives, and to build our confidence in his plans for us.

  13. I’m so glad He knows what we need and He is able to course-correct and cause us to cross paths at the right time to bring us back to Him! What a great post – and one that stirred up gratefulness in me, too! So thankful He loved me before I even knew Him!

  14. During the time period of my life that you describe, horrible things occurred that set me on the path that you were able to avoid by the grace of God. Much was lost. And yet, because of the goodness of God, much was also gained. Repentance came. Restoration followed. A marriage made at a very young age survived and now is 44 years old, completely because of the goodness of God. We had to learn how to truly repent and apologize. We had to let go of bitterness and embrace forgiveness. Knowing that our God is so good that he even turns around the lives of people like me is one of the great blessings on the planet.

    • What a blessing! Thanks so much for sharing. We all have those times when we stepped off the path of God’s best. I mentioned in my post regretting failing some temptations. He often lets us suffer the consequences, but redeems them and works even those for good. I’ve always loved Joel 2:25: “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”

  15. Love this and just had to jump over to your post about assurance of salvation. What could possibly be a more critical issue? I can’t say enough about John MacArthur’s book Saved Without A Doubt. It’s thorough, scrupulously biblical (as always with him) and has been a blessing to so many wrestling with this issue, including myself at one time.

  16. Barbara, I also look back on choices I have made, and I am thankful for God’s guidance and protection. I was in an abusive marriage for 12 years. My children visit their Dad every Summer, and each Summer I am thankful that I am no longer raising my children in a toxic environment. While I continue to pray for my children’s physical and emotional safety while they are with their Dad. Thank you for sharing this encouragement.

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