In January of the year that I walked across the United States I got snowed in right outside of Indianapolis. I had planned to be further south by January but my decision to put people in front of pace in order of importance in my life, while delightful had also led to some delays. So there I was, stuck looking out the window at the road I wanted to walk, knowing full well that even if they plowed the highway, the snow on the shoulder of the road would be left until spring. Although I believe in and had experienced God’s protection I thought it wise not to push the issue by walking down the middle of the road . I sat there seriously thinking that I should head south rather than continuing on with my planned route over to Cincinnati.
I agonized over this decision because before I began the walk I had prayed over a map and felt specifically directed to Cincinnati then Lexington and then Knoxville. I wrestled with whether or not I would screw up everything if I made a wise decision to head south. Would God be mad if I chose a different route? Would God quit using me if made a decision to deviate from the directions I felt so clear about 2500 miles before?
I called Jeff, who is my husband now but was my boyfriend then and poured out my struggle and my fear that God would withdraw his blessing if I chose wrongly. Jeff responded with a question, “Is that what you believe about God?” “I think so.” I said. He continued, “You believe that if you pick a road that heads south to Louisville and then to Knoxville instead of the road that leads to Cincinnati and if you walk on that road as deliberately and faithfully as you have all other roads, preaching Jesus and loving people that God won’t use you anymore? That God will leave you at that crossroads? That’s what you believe about God?”
I began to realize that I didn’t believe that at all. I had made countless choices along the way, choices of where to eat and sleep choices about when to rest and which road to walk. I had been deliberate in walking in the ways of God on the paths I chose, but I had not sought specific direction at every step and still God had blessed me and used me on the routes I chose. “I guess it’s not what I believe at all. I believe you pick a way and you sell yourself out to God on that road and the way that you walk that road will determine whether or not God uses you on it.”
On that day I was set free from the need of being specifically directed by God before moving forward. I was set free to live deliberately for Jesus on all the roads I walk, those that God directs me towards and those that I freely choose. Although I continue to believe that there are occasions where God can and does offer specific direction, I am also utterly convinced that much of the journey is about a deliberate way of walking on whatever road you find yourself traveling.