Over the years I have had many conversations with men—and some women, too—who were experiencing that ill-defined “mid-life crisis” thing. For most, it is a point in life when you stop long enough to look around and wonder “How did I get here?” Like untangling a large ball of twine, you begin retracing your steps and recognizing all the choices that have led to your current state of affairs. There are a multitude of factors that shape our lives—some things we have had no control over; however, we have all made decisions that steered our lives in a definite direction—some of those may cause the bewilderment or dismay that feels like a crisis!
There is one primary decision (some would call it a defining moment) that will establish a trajectory for all future decisions: Will you relinquish your life to God or govern it yourself? Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much . . .” Well, I can think of one exception—if I make myself the final word on life, I will surely miss the path that my Creator planned just for me.
A great example of this is Abram, whom we meet in Genesis 11:27-29. Terah was his father and Nahor and Haran were his brothers. “Meanwhile, Abram and Nahor both married. Abram’s wife was Sarai . . . One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and his grandson Lot (Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. ” Without the backstory, we still know that Abram’s life was moving according to Terah’s plan—away from Ur and toward Canaan.
Genesis 12:1-4 recounts what happened when God interjected Himself into Abram’s life. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot [his nephew] went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.” Now that’s a trajectory change—so much so, that God changed his name to Abraham!
God stepped into Abraham’s life and invited him to leave everything familiar for an unidentified place and existence. All we are told is that from that day forward, Abraham took the plunge, left everything and worshipped God. Later, Abraham was confronted with many difficult decisions—in some things he would trust God’s leading. At other times, he turned to his own initiative, which never ended well (read the rest of Genesis!). However, the end of his story proves that it was his first decision that made all the difference.
Centuries later, the writer of Hebrews reflected on the outcome of Abraham’s decision to follow God’s plan for his life, rather than his father’s or even his own: “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going . . . Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. . . ” (Hebrews 11:8-12)
God offers the same invitation for you and me. Jesus was one of Abraham’s descendants, the Promised One from the foundation of the world. God calls each of us to leave our familiar ways of living (that ultimately lead us nowhere), because what looks like unknown territory and uncharted experiences comes with another astounding promise: “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the One who called us to himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises.” (2 Peter 1:3)
Following Christ may not mean leaving all of your relatives to move to the other side of the planet (although our daughter and son-in-law did that seven months ago), but life with God moves in interesting directions when your focus changes to God’s leadership above your own or anyone else’s. Countless other decisions will follow. Like Abraham, all of us will stumble or feel tempted to turn back at times. However, making the first decision will set your course for everything that will come next. If you think it’s too late to change directions, you’re wrong! Whether you are 25 or 75, the “Great Architect” has a better plan for your life. The journey begins with the first decision.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, as I reflect on our history together, I realize that the best decision I ever made was yielding my life to Your plans for it. I regret the times I have resisted Your leading or tried to find alternatives to obeying your ways. But now, I can see that admitting that You are the Lord of my life has completely reset the direction of my life and brought me where I am today. Lord, grant me the grace to continue trusting You for the future I cannot see but You have planned.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Jesus of Nazareth