I have learned many life lessons through watching hawks. Just this morning, I had another one of these surreal moments. A hawk was sitting on a tall lamppost bordering the street, as I was driving towards him on my morning drive. (This photo is from a different day.) Something so powerful struck me in this moment that I actually stopped the car in the middle of the road (checking behind me of course that no one was coming first). And I just sat in my car and watched him. There’s a message here, I thought. He was facing me, along with the landscape behind me. And then, just like that, he side-stepped his tiny feet 90 degrees, until his back had replaced my frontal view. He was now facing forward, looking toward the snow-covered majestic scenery in front of him.
I felt those words reverberate in my spirit as I watched him make the transition. And it was then that I felt the release to drive away…understanding in that brief moment what the Father was speaking to my heart. Take your eyes off of your past as your main focal point. Place them instead on your future—where I am planning to take you. I let my heart and spirit steep in those words for the rest of the drive. Face forward. Set your gaze here. Look at the beautiful vistas that I have for you. A future and a hope, remember?
I need to rewind this story a little bit for you because this is just one of many ongoing conversations that God and I engage in on a daily basis. I have a thing for hawks and God knows that and so he uses it daily to encourage and speak to me metaphorically. I also have a thing for symbolic and metaphorical thinking. In case you hadn’t noticed by now. God wired me this way.
The funny thing was that I had actually prayed and asked God for a sign about ten minutes earlier. What’s my direction now? What am I to focus on?
So many things have been changing all around me. I have been in a major time of transition lately, as I’ve left one season and entered another. But I haven’t been able to find my new footing in this season just yet. I’ve been waiting months, just walking out what I know I’m to do until I get some new direction. I have known intuitively, in walking out the day-to-day, which things I was to attend to and which things I was no longer to focus on. But I felt a little bit like the proverbial fish out of water, flopping around, looking for where the water/ life was. Come on God, throw me a bone. Something. Anything. I’m almost out of air here.
So this hawk was God’s gentle counsel after what felt like months of sweating it out. Waiting. Looking. Feeling impatient.
Isn’t it crazy how just a little bit of direction from God can make all the difference? And yet even in that, there is often the tendency to take that to extremes. How many times have you thought to yourself, “If God would just tell me what to do, I’d do it!” ?
Aww, if it were only that easy. He really guides us in the subtleties, rather than broadcasting to us a detailed schematic.
Notice that His counsel to me of facing forward didn’t come to me with a syllabus—detailing the specifics. Because I’m to rely on Him for the daily direction of how to walk that out. I just can’t seem to get away from the reality of the day-to-day thing and the being-led thing.
But in that gentle counsel was freedom. I saw him putting a kind arm around my shoulders, and carefully steering me into a different position—one that was filled with excitement and anticipation, rather than drudging through the mud of the past. It’s sticky there.
Life with God is meant to be this incredible living, breathing relationship. And no matter how many people in the church or in religion try to make it just about rules and the black and white issues (and yes, I understand that there are some black and white issues in Scripture), we just can’t get away from the reality that God wants to lead and guide us into all truth in our daily lives.
God is spirit, He made us with a spirit, and we are to be in that spirit-to-spirit relationship and daily walk with Him. That means He wants to speak with us and counsel us on a daily basis. He doesn’t just give us a to-do list for life and walk away.
I love how John Eldredge puts it, “There is a dailyness to our walk with Christ…”
There really is. Bottom line it. We can’t get away from walking with Him in that daily relationship of communication and trust. And would we want to? I don’t know about you, but I know that I can’t do it on my own—even if I did have that hypothetical list.
And so here I am with today’s heads up to Face Forward. It isn’t that I haven’t been doing that. I have been. Generally. But if I were to drill down to the specifics and be really honest with you, I’d admit that I spend a lot of time looking back—at my life, my decisions, my relationships. Questioning. Wondering. Regretting. Reliving. It’s so exhausting to relive the past. It depletes my spiritual tank, so that I have less energy to dream and grow.
And God wants me to dream and grow. He wants me to hope. A future and a hope…
And it’s not that looking at my past is bad in itself. I have already boarded the plane to the inner healing and restoration of my heart, and that will often involve looking into the windows of the past to get more understanding and healing. This particular plane is a life journey. But I’m not to make the past my dwelling place.
Face Forward. It’s a subtle course correction. But I can run with that…
Freedom. Life. Healing. Deliverance. Restoration. Redemption. Reconciliation. Those are the points on God’s compass.
Follow His compass. Follow the subtleties. Follow Him daily.
He’ll get you where you need to be.
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
“When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16:3)
“And your ears will hear a word behind them, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).