My friend and author Lucinda McDowell has recently published her new book, Dwelling Places: Words to Live in Every Season. I am blessed that she has allowed me to share an exclusive excerpt from the book as part of our #BeBoldGirl series. Enjoy!
I was blindfolded every day for three months.
This was part of my training in becoming an orientation and mobility specialist for visually impaired people. In order to teach the blind, I first had to experience what they experience.
One day I was tapping my white cane in front of me and horn honked nearby startling me. Then a dog barked and I wondered if it was restrained. Such anxiety is common among people who cannot see. My cane “told” me the sidewalk had become uneven as I precariously made my way toward my destination, the Hot Shot Café.
My trainer, Bette, had warned me of construction on this route but assured me the cane would “warn” me in time to avert potholes and newly dug ditches. “Just take it one step at a time,” she instructed. “Your cane technique will give you the view of a step ahead. The rest will be made clear as you progress.”
But I wanted to know now where the obstacles were. Long before I encountered them, not just as I needed to alter my path. Similarly, I wanted to know the whole plan of my life while I was in my twenties – where to live and work, what graduate school degree to pursue, who to marry, and whether or not cowboy boots were a good investment.
Are you looking for a little guidance?
If so, you may have to be willing to “see” only one step at a time, rather than the whole
picture. Eventually, God did indeed guide me to graduate school (in cowboy boots) up in New England.
Upon arrival, my faculty advisor gave me this verse as a promise for my time there.
I will make the blind walk a road they don’t know, and I will guide them in paths they don’t know. But I will make darkness before them into light and rough places into level ground. These things I will do; I won’t abandon them.” (Isaiah 42:16, CEB)
The Hebrew word most often used in the Old Testament for guide is nahal. Though the Bible warns of snares, traps and treacherous paths, it consistently portrays God as One who will counsel and safely guide all those who belong to Him.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to plan ahead. God requires that we do our part (pray, make plans based on what we know so far, and then trust Him for further guidance) and He will do His part (show us the way to go). If we take time to be quiet and listen, we may just hear His voice, as the Israelites counted on during their long journey of trust.
“If you stray to the right or the left, you will hear a word that comes from behind you: ’This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30.21, CEB)
Do the next thing.
When you can’t see your way, know that you can dwell in God’s presence and He will guide your path.
“Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back. My Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack. His wisdom ever waking, His sight is never dim. He knows the way He’s taking, and I will walk with Him.” (hymn “In Heavenly Love Abiding,” Anna L. Waring, 1850)
One step at a time.
©2016 Excerpted from “Dwelling Places” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell (Abingdon Press, 2016)
Lucinda Secrest McDowell is passionate about embracing life — both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she offers “Encouraging Words” to all on the journey. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, Cindy is the author of twelve books, including Dwelling Places, Live These Words, Refresh!, Amazed by Grace, Quilts from Heaven and Role of a Lifetime. Whether co-directing the “New England Christian Writers Retreat,” mentoring young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Cindy’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things. She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at EncouragingWords.net