• Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC

Lighted Highway or Flashlight?


“I will teach you and tell you the way to go and how to get there;

I will give you good counsel, and I will watch over you.”


Psalm 32:8 (The Voice)


I am a planner.


Well, that’s probably not actually true. If I’m being honest, “planner” is the word I like to use to justify being in control or at the very least knowing what is going to happen next. It just makes me feel safe.


This being the case, I feel most safe when there is a long-term plan in place. Ideally, knowing what is going to happen at least 3-5 years down the road in my career, family, or finances is what I would love. Now I’m not completely crazy. I know this is somewhat unrealistic, but still, this is what I would love to have in place. I equate it to wanting God to give me a brightly lighted highway that shines all the way to my destination.


Now because of God’s great love for me and his incredible sense of humor, instead of the lighted highway, what he consistently gives me is a flashlight that only radiates enough light for my next step. For a long time, years actually, I have found this incredibly frustrating. Why can’t I see more of the path we’re traveling together? Why can’t I know a few more details?


But true to God’s faithful character, there has been a reason for his mysterious ways.


As I’ve scoured the Scripture to understand his methods and ways, what I’ve come to see over and over again is how God longs to lead and guide those who are seeking his plan. Psalm 32:8 is just one such verse that holds this beautiful imagery of God “teaching, telling, counseling, and watching”over those who are seeking him.


If this is true, that God longs to lead me, then why the “flashlight” instead of the “lighted highway?” The answer is actually very multi-faceted and doused in love.


First, if God gave me the “lighted highway” he knows that I would be so focused on the destination that I would miss all that he had to show me along the way. And I’m finding that there is far more to learn along the way to my destinations than I ever could have imagined. In fact, what I’m learning along the way is actually what’s preparing me for when I finally get to what God has planned for me.


Second, the “flashlight” radiating only enough light for my next step is actually incredibly protective. Sometimes when I’m seeking direction I hear God very clearly and I take my next step confidently and securely. These are “Yay God!” moments and I move forward ready to learn about the next step.


But let’s say I don’t hear him clearly. I think I know what to do, but I’m uncertain. This can be a paralyzing place, one that many people stay stuck in out of fear. But here’s the thing, if I’m truly seeking God, then by just taking one step, I’m safe either way. If it turns out it was the right step then again, “Yay God!” However, if it turns out it was the wrong step, one step is recoverable. I can back up easily from one wrong step, as opposed to cleaning up the damage I can do by running 5 miles down the road and realizing I’ve misunderstood or wasn’t listening.


And third, the “flashlight” keeps me looking up to the Savior who is holding it. The truth of the matter is, Jesus is my Light. He himself tells us, “I am the Light of the World; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life”(John 8:12, NIV). I have found this to be abundantly true every step of the way.


I’m human, so there are still many days that I wish I knew the plan or what was coming next. But to this point, I can honestly say I’ve never been disappointed by where the Lord and I have journeyed together. We have visited many places; some have brought me to my knees in awe of his glory and grace toward me, other places, I would rather have not gone. But even then, he has never sent me alone, and always, always, always has helped me to see his purpose and goodness prevail.


It’s hard to trust at first, but there is unfathomable freedom in the “flashlight” step.




For Your Reflection…


How has God been guiding you these days – with the “lighted highway” or the “flashlight?” What are you learning in the process?

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