Are We Following?

I can just barely admit this, but I have finally hauled all the cassette tapes — John Michael Talbot, Carole King, Billy Joel — out from under my bed.

And I’m going to throw them away.

Letting go of this one thing may not free my hands to grab hold of an entire universe, but who knows?

This unloading is initiated, I think, by my oldest son’s purchase of a house:  endless boxes and piles of belongings, so overwhelming, and yet minor, inconsequential compared with my extensively curated mess.

Then, there’s the presence of teen sons still in the nest, their growing competence a continual reminder of my slippage toward obsolescence.  The prayer of my heart as I fill the waste basket with relics from the 1980’s is this:

“Oh, Lord, please keep my heart from becoming brittle and plastic,
Unconsciously stuck in rigid notions of my own right-ness.”

Trusting that the body and the soul are somehow linked in their flexibility, I’m exercising these days.  Like a teetotaling mama sneaking her basement brandy flask, I creep off to the furnace room, knock off my little jumping jacks and squats, approximate a push up, and tremble through a thirty-second plank.  The fear of looking ridiculous is banished by the greater fear of weakness — of outliving my ability to rise from a chair unaided.

Lilias Trotter, English missionary to Algeria (and brightly shimmering droplet in my cloud of witnesses) prods me to look beneath the surface of this middle-aged Christian life with her searing question:

“There may be much of usefulness
And of outward self-denial, and yet . . .
There may remain a clinging to our own judgment,
A confidence in our own resources,
An unconscious taking of our own way, even in God’s service . . .
Are we following His steps?
Are we?”

Am I?

If the Proverb is to be trusted, and my mostly silver hair is to be seen as a crown of glory and wisdom, don’t let me be guilty of false advertising — like Jude’s waterless clouds, carried about by the wind, promising rain, but yielding nothing; like those fruitless trees in late autumn, not only barren, but uprooted.  Twice dead.

We speak (disparagingly at times) of Israel’s wandering a circuitous route through a howling wilderness, but there is no inefficiency or waste in God’s methods:

The record shows that they were being led.

In cloud by day, in fire by night, God went before them, never leaving His place in front of His people, and so I join Lilias in asking a few questions of my own:

Is my following marked by an ever-enlarging faith that sustains forward and God-focused momentum?

Will the stumbling footprints of past failures lead to fear-based caution or to greater courage — founded in a memory of seas that split and sustenance that fell from Mercy?

Can my heart find grace enough to view, in retrospect, my own wasteland trails as a following that became the exact price for becoming who I am today?

Cloud of My Soul,
Light of My Soul:
Lead me forward.

Through shadow and shade,
When your presence is veiled and in mist;

Through blazing Words and bright Truth,
When the next step is clear and urgent.

Strengthen my soul for the wondering and for the wandering
That are part of my journey forward.

(Proverbs 16:31; Jude 12; Exodus 13:21,22)


Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

65 thoughts on “Are We Following?”

  1. Beautifully written Michele and your words compel to look deep within. Are we unconsciously taking our own way even in God’s service? Ouch! Thank you for this beautiful post.
    Blessings to you my friend,


  2. “Will the stumbling footprints of past failures lead to fear-based caution or to greater courage….?”

    I will treasure this today and for as long as this wandering season of despondency has me waiting for new things, but trusting in the desert.

    Thank you.


    1. Lord, for Lisanne I pray that you would let her see your footprints during this desert season. Give her hope and joy — and may she find courage to live well even when there are more questions than answers in her days. . . .
      Lisanne, thanks for reading and for letting me know that my words have come to you at a helpful time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, Michele. This is beautiful. You’re such a thoughtful writer. May God bless and multiply the effect of your ministry of words! I echo that prayer along with you. I don’t want to grow brittle either! (And I just re-started my daily 15 minute yoga practice after a month-long hiatus! I do it along to Christian music.


  4. Moving always puts me in the mood to purge. I can see how watching your son (and probably helping him) would inspire you as well. I love how you drew all the spiritual parallels! Blessings!


  5. Interesting parallels. Except Carole King and Billy Joel….classics so I’d hang on to them. I still listen to them on long car rides. “Can my heart find grace enough to view …” touches me this morning. Thanks for bringing your insight to Party at My Place this morning.


  6. Hi Michele, Great post – I especially liked the comment about Israel in the wilderness, not wandering but being led. My husband has started a website earlier this year that I would love for you to check out – I’d like to help him find some link parties that would be appropriate for his writings & I may try some of the links you have here on your left sidebar. Thanks! Blessings, Janet


  7. I love this!

    “Cloud of My Soul,
    Light of My Soul:
    Lead me forward.”

    May the service I do be led by Him, and not what I think needs to be done!

    Thanks so much for this, Michele!


  8. Michele, this is really beautiful and prompts me to take a look at my life. I don’t want these grey hairs to be a “false advertiser” either. 🙂 May God grant us the courage to continue to follow wherever he leads and the wisdom to recognize when we are trying to take the lead. Thank you for your words here Michele. Many blessings to you! xo


    1. Yes, courage, and I’m thinking that authenticity is something we have to offer the world as we “mature.” I always appreciate your visits, Gayl, and your encouraging words.


  9. So, this morning I woke up as I usually do – asking for mercy and guidance and offering up “What can I do for You today, Lord?” and a gray thought slipped in like a thief. I wondered if there was anything left that I could do. Well, then I read this beautiful blog and then I moved next to today’s Utmost –

    If there is only one strand of faith amongst all the corruption within us, God will take hold of that one strand.

    Sometimes I find I am caught up in over-thinking, over-expecting, over-demanding, and then He gently says, – “Peace, be still.”

    What a comfort!


  10. WHOA. SO many lines that made me stop in my tracks and reread. One is:

    “Will the stumbling footprints of past failures lead to fear-based caution or to greater courage — founded in a memory of seas that split and sustenance that fell from Mercy?”

    A couple ouchies for me but I am glad I read these! Thanks, Michelle there are some pretty important things to ponder here.


  11. Such gentle conviction comes through your lovely words. Thank you, dear friend, for giving me much to consider. You also remind me about cassette tapes I still have at several places of great music, but no way to play it and the likelihood I wouldn’t if I could due to the poor quality since the digital age has come upon us. Blessing on you!!


  12. Such wisdom and encouragement, Michele. The Lord reminded me of a few things I need to continue praying about for myself while reading this. Things I’ve pushed aside because life is marching on. Thank you for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.


  13. Michele, I loved this > “don’t let me be guilty of false advertising”. Yes, yes, yes! So with you on that. May we grow in wisdom and in all that our God has for us. You have encouraged me this morning! Have a wonderful weekend!


  14. Oh, Michele, such beautiful words straight from your heart! This mothering thing, this spiritual journey is much harder than I ever expected and if it weren’t for His daily grace, I’d not make it forward. He strengthens us in ways we can’t fathom, to take one more step. I am awed by His patience and love. I may dislike my gray but
    how I appreciate the wisdom He brings! Many blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I gleaned so much from this thoughtful and poetic post. I especially loved “Can my heart find grace enough to view, in retrospect, my own wasteland trails as a following that became the exact price for becoming who I an today?”
    So much to think about here. Thank you, Michele.
    Glad I visited from #FreshMarketFriday


  16. Thank you for this beauty today. You brought up so many memories when you mentioned Carole King and Billy Joel-two of my favorites. But is holding onto the past bringing us into the future or holding us back? It sounds like we have many life changes happening that are similar and I love knowing that I am sharing this journey with you.

    I am proud of you for exercising too. You know that is part of my journey right now and everyday I learn how hard it is to exercise but also how much stronger I have become because I said “yes”. You are a beautiful friend and I am following forward with you!


  17. “Will the stumbling footprints of past failures lead to fear-based caution or to greater courage”. I love this! Do we focus on the failure or on the God who led us through and taught us? (1 Samuel 12:24)
    I love your poem also!


    1. Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
      What a fantastic verse! Thank you for sharing it here — and for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Love this > “an ever-enlarging faith that sustains forward and God-focused momentum.” May it be so in my life, too! Beautiful words, Michelle. Blessings!


  19. Whoa, Michele. This is beautiful! Your questions at the end stir me up. Strengthen our souls, Lord! 🙂 Also- joining you in ridiculous-looking exercise. Started earlier today. But as you so eloquently explain- I believe soul and body are connected and I want to be flexible. And now grow weak prematurely. Thanks for all this wisdom today, Michele! #LLMLinkup


  20. Though this isn’t the main point, I had to smile at your sneaking off to exercise. I used to feel the same way, especially around family. I never thought I would be a gym person, but my husband wanted to join one at the beginning of the year. I tried it – and found I liked it. There are a lot of people my age and size, so I don’t feel conspicuous around the young, buff people.

    Love the comment about not wanting false advertising under our grey hair. 🙂 This is nicely written and makes a wonderful point.


    1. Good words, here, Barbara. And thanks for your conspiratorial words about exercise. It’s the discipline we love to hate, but we feel so much better when we’re being consistent with it!


  21. A thoughtful and compelling post, Michele! I’ve been retired since 2008, exercise this old body and mind daily and am grateful for a gracious, loving God who knows my human frailties and still loves me. My prayer is that I will not become obsolete, but will be able honor Him day by day on my earthly journey. Blessings and love, Bette


  22. I loved reading your poetic writing and descriptions! I love posts that take me deep into the soul and cause me to search my own heart in reflection. My parents just sold the house I grew up in. Isn’t it interesting how sometimes we have to let go of stuff, symbolically moving forward into the next phase and season in life? May we propel forward in courage and wear our greying hair (although colored, lol) as a crown of glory! Thank you for your wisdom! Visiting from Moments of Hope!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’ve noticed the same thing. So many times events in our lives that seem to be purely “physical” end up triggering a whole world of changes. And courage and wisdom must be the outcome if we live all these changes before Him!


  23. Oh Michele! I laughed at the cassette tape moment. I just had one of those as I’ve been packing. Since my last move I have not touched my box of cassettes and so this time, without even looking, I tossed them. It was strangely freeing! 🙂 May we each continue to grow in His grace!


  24. Thought-provoking questions! I love your desire to keep moving forward with God. It’s far too easy to settle, but it’s important to keep going, and to keep growing in trust and wisdom as we reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past. I like your reflection that the wondering and the wandering are part of the journey.


  25. This is beautiful! My oldest is moving and was drawn into your writing… My favorite quote:
    “Is my following marked by an ever-enlarging faith that sustains forward and God-focused momentum?”
    Lord, I pray so!


  26. Again, great words to ponder, Michele. Thanks for sharing at The Loft today!

    (I still have all my cassette tapes neatly packed away in a drawer. If my husband is willing, I’m ready to LET THEM GO!)


  27. Yes, our stuff, our bodies and our spirits all connected and all needing to be flexible, open to change, thanks for drawing the connections so well for us. I’ve found a number of gentle yoga routines I do online, Michele, that really seem to help.


  28. Thoughtful words, Michele. I’m praying with you that we may be lead by His Spirit! Thank you for always challenging me. And thank you for sharing at #MomentsofHope!
    Blessings and smiles,


  29. “Can my heart find grace enough to view, in retrospect, my own wasteland trails as a following that became the exact price for becoming who I am today?” I love this… God is working all the MESSES of our past into His beautiful MASTERPIECE! Blessings!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.