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Directed Steps By Jon Lewis

Directed Steps and Unexpected Paths

Two hours into our transatlantic flight, I could tell something was wrong. Having made the long, ten-hour journey from Frankfurt, Germany to Denver, Colorado many times in the past, and having been a former mission pilot myself, I knew that the shortest, great route course was one that should take us straight to London, then Dublin, then just south of Greenland followed by hitting the Canadian coast where the Labrador Sea connects to Hudson Bay. Instead, the flight map on the seatback monitor in front of me showed that our flight had transited central Norway and was now headed way north of Iceland, literally hundreds of miles “off course” from the regular route. What was going on, I wondered.

It wasn’t until the captain made a general announcement that I got my answer. Our route that day had been altered due to an unusual course of the jet stream, that high altitude, an invisible river of fast-flowing air that circles the northern hemisphere. By the time the wheels of our United 787 touched down on the Denver runway, I had clocked our total flight time at nine hours and forty-four minutes, a bit LESS than what that flight route typically takes.

Directed Steps

In Proverbs chapter sixteen, several verses contrast the path of life we plan for with the final route God directs us toward. To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue, says verse one. And then, in verse nine, we’re told a man plans his course in his heart, but the LORD  determines his steps.

Is it any wonder that we often balk at these divine leadings that, from our perspective, don’t make sense? How often does God’s “course correction” seem illogical and out of place to us, like taking a winding route that is ineffective and simply a waste of time?

There’s one more verse in Proverbs 16 worth noting—verse three: Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. 

Your Surrender

I’ve learned that committing my plans to the Lord is not about unthinkingly telling God what I want to do and plowing ahead, hoping He’ll bless those plans. That would be akin to our United captain stubbornly refusing to believe his instruments and following the same old line on the map he had always used. Instead, it is a process of give and take—sharing my thoughts with God in earnest prayer followed by quietly listening to His Spirit’s voice in reply. That reply often reshapes and alters my original plans and directs me in a way I never imagined. Only in that give-and-take process do I understand what God could see all along—the invisible “jet stream” of life events that assure the directed steps of His course corrections make total sense.

Only He knows that in the end, our longer, supposedly illogical route might allow us to make a “touch down” sooner than we ever expected.


Jon Lewis is a Senior Associate for Partnership Advancement with OC International and focuses on encouraging global Christian leaders toward greater ministry effectiveness. With over 40 years of experience, he also served as a MAF mission pilot in Africa and CEO of Partners International.


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