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In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

You probably don’t remember this, but if you know how to walk today it’s because you learned the ability to ‘walk-a-by-self’. A friend of mine tells the story of her very independent toddler daughter. Just after she learned to walk she was very determined to show her independence. Mom tried to pick her up but she refused. She wanted to ‘walk-a-by-self’. Mom put her down and tried to hold her hand, but she pulled away and announced to the world: “WALK-A-BY-SELF!”, and so…she did, with mom close beside her to guard her steps.

We chuckle from time to time about the pseudo-independence our toddlers show with those first steps. Oh, at first they are pretty shaky and unsteady but then, the reach that point where the fear is gone and we realize there is a whole new world to explore and we attack it with gusto!

We tend to be the same way in our spiritual lives. We are confident in our own abilities to do life. We show our freedom from the rules by making choices that put us in danger. We choose relationships based on looks or status rather than seeking Gods direction. We spend freely, eat poorly, and ‘love’ openly. Sometimes that gets us in trouble. We charge on without any awareness whatsoever of our parents presence and get lost. We run to fast and stumble and fall. We meet the coffee table head-on (yes it was a pun, but so very true), all the while thinking God is nowhere to be seen.

Our Heavenly Father knows that we need to have the freedom to walk on our own. He knows it builds strength and confidence. He knows it allows us the opportunity to develop the gifts, talents and abilities He planned for us to have.

Our Father also knows that we will fall. As in the physical life, we will end up with bruised knees and an occasional bloody nose. Sometimes we’ll require stitches and need to be picked up and comforted. Sometimes we’ll look Him square in the eye and announce: “walk-a-by-self!” We’ll wander and get ourselves in a whole variety of predicaments, but we will never be outside his protective grasp.

The analogy of a rebellious two-year old falls short in one area though. Our Heavenly Father knows we’ll stumble and fall, but we will never be out of reach of His strong and powerful arms. We are never out of sight of His wise, discerning eyes. We never really ‘walk-a-by-self’ when we walk with Jesus. He’s always there. Always faithful, always willing to let us have the freedom to choose, and always willing to pick us up when we stray from Him and need His healing arms around us.

It doesn’t matter where you have strayed or what choices you’ve made, or where you find yourself in life today. Jesus Christ longs to hold you in His arms of forgiveness and grace so that you may be comforted and strengthened to walk again.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. The Bible tells me I can call you ‘Daddy’. Thank you that like a caring, compassionate and wise father you allow me the freedom to walk-a-by-self. Thank you that through Jesus Christ I can be forgiven when my walking gets me in trouble. Thank you for the healing salve of your grace. I ask today that you would help me up, for I’ve stumbled once again, and empower me by your Spirit to walk with you. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen.


This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

For years Joshua had been Moses’ right hand man. He’d been chosen to survey the Promised Land. He’d become Moses’ spokesperson to the people. He’d learned how to lead, how to wage military battle and most importantly, how to trust God. Now Moses was dead and God chose Joshua to take the lead role in bringing Israel into the Promised Land.

Being number two in command is relatively easy. If you are an assistant to the director or an assistant coach you offer advice and do your responsibilities but the final decisions are all in the hands of the ‘boss’. As a child you follow the advice and wisdom of your parents or trusted adult advisors. As a student you listen to and adhere to the guidelines of your instructor. In each situation the final say is out of your hands.

The real challenge in life comes when you step from the role of assistant to the guy in charge. You suddenly realize that all the decisions and all the responsibility are now yours. As a teacher, the class looks to you for wisdom and guidance. As a coach, the team follows your direction and expects victory. As a parent, your children watch you in order to learn the basics of life and living.

It’s no wonder then, that when life changes occur we can become fearful, even as adults. When our parents die there can be a sense of loss and fear and the thought, “What will I do now?” when in actuality we’ve been on our own for years and have children of our own. The fear of going it alone is a powerful and sometimes crippling emotion. In whatever position we find ourselves in, when the opportunity comes to step up we can doubt our own abilities to carry on. We never really get over that need to have someone direct us and support us.

The most important thing any of us can do is to surround ourselves with a support system that won’t fail. That’s the offer God gives to Joshua and to us. A support system that will never fail us regardless of anything we do or others do to us. He promises to be our source of guidance, strength and encouragement.

People will fail you, but God won’t. Religion will fail you, but God won’t. Money will fail you, but God won’t. Education will fail you, but God won’t. Technology will fail you, but God won’t. Nothing you come across in life will keep Him from being your Go-to-Guy. As you grow in relationship with God you will find Him faithful and His wisdom unconquerable.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. There are times when I’m like Joshua. I look ahead at the task before me and am overwhelmed. I experience struggles and tragedies that discourage me. Friends and even family members have abandoned me and I feel so alone. Please help me to sense your presence. Empower me to draw close to you and learn to rely on your wisdom and strength to get through my days. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

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