I have been thinking a lot about life. I’ve been pondering what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and what I wish to do. I’ve been evaluating my path and seeking God’s direction. I’m one of those people that writes out goals and dreams and makes a checklist of actions, breaking down the list of things I need to accomplish to move forward. It keeps me focused. It’s exciting to look back and see what I’ve experienced and where I’ve been, but when I get my eyes on where I’m hoping to go, I find myself battling discouragement.

If you’ve ever watched the TV show “The Amazing Race,” you know that contestants are given a map and a destination, racing as teams to get to the goal first. The show gets interesting as teams experience unexpected glitches along the way.

This is such a good comparison to life. We launch into the adventure of adulthood aiming for a certain path. We take the classes or work the hours, and unexpectedly, a road block appears! I hate detours and fight a change of plans, but most of the time we must adjust our way of thinking, reforming our plans, and plotting a new way forward. It’s not bad, it’s just different than what we had envisioned.

I love the story of David in the Bible; I relate to him easily. He was a simple shepherd that was called from the field one day because the priest had a word from God that one of Jesse’s sons would be king. Nathan the prophet met David and anointed him to be king, and then left. There was this exciting experience that was a pivotal moment for David, yet no parades or celebrations occurred. Instead, he had to go back to shepherding sheep afterward. He battled wild beasts and long days in the sun, winds, and rain. He sat and perfected his harp skills in the dull moments.  He was in a time of building his skills and abilities, but it sure felt to him like he’d been forgotten.

History tells that David got his next break when he volunteered to fight a huge Philistine warrior, named Goliath. He became a household name when he defeated and killed Goliath, honoring God openly. But did he get the crown? No. He did get a status promotion, but along with it came a whole lot of trials and conflict.

When I think about the journey David took to finally acquire the God-ordained crown of leadership, I am oddly encouraged. Even when dreams are God-inspired, it doesn’t mean they are handed to us without conflict, challenge or heartache. It’s the conflict, challenge, and heartache that built David into a good leader and dependant on God’s strength,  not his own.  Though it may not make sense to me at the time, I understand that I must experience roadblocks or detours in my plans. I do trust God. So as I sit here and look into the distance from where I am to where I dream to be, I know that God must use the difficulties of today to prepare me and strengthen me for tomorrow.

As you read this, maybe you feel “stuck” too. You’re not alone. Know that whatever is in your path is not there to defeat you, but to strengthen you and build your character and confidence.

The Lord is my Shepherd, in whom I will trust.