Don’t Miss it, Look Behind You!
The importance of letting God set the direction of your steps
Great leaders keep their eyes focused on the horizon. Successful people gaze ahead to what might be. Visionaries lock on to the heavens and move into the future undistracted.
But what if God’s future for us lies in another direction? I was taught a great lesson recently about the power and importance of where we look as stewards and followers of Jesus.
Last week I spent an evening scouting some new territory for my fall deer hunting. I found myself driving country roads weaving between sprawling wheat fields and sagebrush-laden scrublands that make up so much of central Washington. Above me was an angry sky boiling with ink-dark clouds that fought with the sun for dominance. Walls of rain and hail hung underneath them, moving across the landscape and swallowing up everything in their path. The dance between sun and shadows across the wheat fields and rocky hills was extraordinary.
The road I wanted to scout was inaccessible for my vehicle so I waited for a valley to form between the passing storms and set out for a brief walk. Binoculars in hand I worked my way toward a distant rise as the evening sun began to find the west horizon. The path led me directly into view of the formation of what promised to be a magnificent sunset. As I reached the rise in the road I realized I had the perfect view to witness this spectacle of God’s artistry unfold in front of me. There was not a soul anywhere around, and the sweet smell of damp sagebrush added to the cool air to create an unforgettable scene. With iPhone in hand I watched and waited. My eyes focused ahead for the special blessing God had in store.
And the sunset did not disappoint.
Content that this was a special little blessing from God, I stood gazing ahead and marveled, “What could be more spectacular than this?” It was about then that I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was the edge of a rainbow. No big deal, we’ve all seen countless rainbows. And while they’re lovely to look at, could I really take my eyes off of this display of cosmic color? Remember, successful people keep their eyes fixed on the horizon, leaders look ahead, visionaries don’t turn back but gaze at what could be!
But something compelled me to consider what might just be behind me. It was like I was being nudged to consider another view. So, with little expectation I decided to take a brief glimpse. As I turned around, this is what I saw.
I was stunned. It may be the single most spectacular natural phenomenon I have ever seen. After a few seconds in mouth-gaping awe, I realized this scene would not last for long. I fumbled for the panorama function on my phone and carefully took 3-4 shots. As I checked my phone for the results, I realized I had captured a treasure. Then I just stood and watched. I felt like the only person on the face of the earth. Not a sound. Only cool, sweet air that accented the multi-colored arch framed by black clouds and splashed by bursts of sun. And then, as if being dismantled by angelic hands, it ever-so-slowly faded away. It was standing there between these two scenes that a sad but somewhat humorous scene flashed into my mind. I was looking down from the sky watching myself. I saw myself looking west to the sunset but never turning around, while this spectacular scene was unfolding right there behind me. I pictured an entire angelic chorus crying out from heaven, “Scott, Scott, turn around! For heaven’s sake turn around!”
And that is when this simple lesson crossed my spirit. How often do I get so focused on the way that I think I should be going that I fail to listen for the still small voice that just might turn my head in a different direction? How often have I missed the fullness of what God would have for me because I thought I already knew what He wanted?
So here is my question for you, my friends and readers:
What does it mean to listen so intently for God’s leading that we can be directed to turn around even when the sunset ahead of us seems so important?
Perhaps it means questioning our inflexible plans for the day and asking if we might be missing something God has for us to do. Perhaps it means setting aside our well-crafted strategic plans from time to time to pray and listen for what God is saying today, even at the risk that He may send us in a new direction. It may mean questioning long-held attitudes and letting God turn us to a new understanding. Or it may be a decision to stop living life in a certain direction and finally taking the steps needed to go an entirely new way.
Whatever its meaning may be for you, I pray this little story and this incredible rainbow may inspire you to consider if God might be preparing a new direction for you to travel. For me, it is a reminder of the importance of being Holy Spirit-focused and letting Him set the direction of my steps. May we all find our feet on the path He designs for us and our eyes fixed on the wonders He has prepared for those whose eyes are fixed on Him.