Just Because You Feel Lost Doesn’t Mean You Are

A writing project has sent me digging for old journals. Stashed away in a box under my bed, they are a record, in smudged pencil and inky scrawl, of where I’ve wandered and how God’s faithfulness, found in the rearview mirror, has pulled me back on course every single time. Who in the world was that thirty-something-year-old mum, overwhelmed by fatigue and bewildered by parenting? To my present day ears, she sounded lost, and it’s a relief to me, standing here with a stack of evidence to God’s faithfulness in the journey, that just because you feel lost doesn’t necessarily mean you are.

Just because I can’t discern God’s ways in the moment doesn’t mean he’s abandoned me:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

When the next step is unclear or the priorities are fuzzy, it’s easy to assume that you’re on your own or that, somewhere along the way, you made a wrong turn. Waiting for the next breadcrumb to show up on the trail is gut wrenching, and so when Robin Dance wrote, “Thinking you’re lost feels just as awful as being lost,” I underlined, re-read, and remembered the awfulness. And then I rejoiced in God’s faithfulness.

Beware of Spiritual Box-Checking

Nurtured in a loving church deep in the heart of the of the Bible belt, belief for Robin Dance came like breathing.
Until it didn’t.
But, then, this is the way of doubt–more of a subtle drift than a seismic shift.

For All Who Wander: Why Knowing God Is Better than Knowing It All is Robin’s story of redirection, of paddling back to the shore, where she stepped out onto the solid ground of God’s sovereignty. His promises came as a cup of cold water in a spiritual desert as she discovered that belief is so much deeper than knowing all the right answers.

Don’t settle for spiritual “box-checking” as a substitute for relationship with God. One sure sign that you’ve begun to wander is a gap between your confessional theology and your practical theology:

Belief is best evidenced by what we do–actions which always flow out of what we honestly think in the secret places of our minds and hearts. And it is a lovely thing when what you believe, say, and do perfectly align. But when they don’t? You’re wandering and don’t even know it.” (33)

Too, church is designed to be the place that breathes life into your faithful following. The purpose of opening your Bible every day is to grow in your understanding of God’s ways and to heighten your desire for him in your life. Your teaching, singing, bulletin-typing, casserole-carrying, nursery-staffing duties are intended to flow from a desire to make his glory known to others. When we get this backward and start checking off the boxes, it’s really time to check the map.

Readers will breathe in hope and exhale relief as they read Robin’s story and come to understand there is no shame in a season of wandering. The life-giving truth of it all is that while you have been looking for answers, God has been offering, all along, the gift of himself.

Many thanks to B&H Publishing for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Grace and peace to you,

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase For All Who Wander: Why Knowing God Is Better than Knowing It All or For All Who Wander Journey Guide, simply click on the title or the image, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

39 thoughts on “Just Because You Feel Lost Doesn’t Mean You Are”

    1. I’m so guilty of waiting for sky writing from God–when I know he doesn’t work that way. May we faithfully follow what we know of his will in the moment until we receive the next direction.


    1. I’m challenged by the way you seem to have your finger on the pulse of the people in your life, Donna. It’s good news to me that I can partner with you in this very small way.
      Blessings to you, and I’m saying a prayer right now for your wandering dear one.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Another good reason to keep paper and pencil journals. We can see where we’ve been in our different seasons in our relationships and our faith. Your post reminded me of this Madeleine L’Engle quote: “Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.”


  2. It’s so easy to fall into box-checking as a sign of spiritual health and activity instead of an outflow of our inner walk with God. And it’s hard to believe in the middle of seeming chaos that we’re right where God wants us, learning to depend on Him moment by moment.


  3. Thanks as always for the great review. Looks like a great book. Discerning what is God’s path of church involvements and serving in different seasons is important, but it is never a substitute for our personal intimacy and time with Him that nourishes us.

    Ah, yes, I have many journals as well and those have been what the Lord has often used to help me sort myself out with Him. Mine contain some of the most honest and intimate musings with and about Him and how He used them to lead me on. (He still uses them in this season as well.)


    1. My wrestling with my role as a believing church member and servant of God is pretty well documented in those dusty journals. I was surprised at what I found there, and also thankful for God’s leading over the years.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. AMEN to: “Just because I can’t discern God’s ways in the moment doesn’t mean he’s abandoned me.” So often I’ve felt at a loss for what I should DO in order to discern God’s ways for every decision (and the more immediate the better). And there is a sense of abandonment. Why isn’t God more forthcoming with direction? Just recently I came across this by F. B. Meyer: “When you are unsure which course to take, submit your own judgment to that of the Spirit of God, asking Him to shut every door except the right one. Meanwhile keep moving ahead and consider the absence of a direct indication from God to be the evidence of His will that you are on His path..If you go to God for guidance, He WILL guide you” (from Streams in the Desert for July 31st, emphasis added). Isn’t that encouraging?


  5. MIchele, this sounds like a really good book. Like you, I have notebooks of old journals, and looking back on them can be quite eye-opening. What I do find when I look back is, like you, that I wasn’t really lost. God always pulled me back into His word and gave me strength and answered prayer. I’m so thankful for those journals that remind me of God’s faithfulness. Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at the #LMMLinkup!


  6. I love the perspective we can gain from looking back at old journals. I do that from time to time too. I’m glad God has brought us to the places we are now by using the paths of our past.


  7. I love this quote by John Ruskin. It has been a comfort and reminder many times when God seems silent and there are “rest” periods in my life:

    “There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by “rests,” and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune. God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the “rests. They are not to be slurred over nor to be omitted, nor to destroy the melody, nor to change the keynote. If we look up, God Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear.”


  8. I remember being that thirty-something-year-old mom, overwhelmed by fatigue and bewildered by parenting, Michele! So, so, so, so thankful for God’s faithfulness! At the time, with 4 under 9 and living off a part-time salary while my hubs finished school, I didn’t realize how difficult times were. We just did what we had to do to survive. I can’t say we thrived, but we did survive. Looking back, I’m not sure how. Thanks for this thought-provoking post!

    Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!


  9. I often wonder why I’ve never felt like God has abandoned me. It would be easy for me to think so in this season, yet I don’t. I too have a bag of journals that I look back on from time to time. The resounding message on every page is God is faithful. Checkbox Christianity is so easy to fall into. May we lean into a deep relationship with God and serve from that place. He’s already done it all for us at the cross. He doesn’t need our works. He needs our worship.


    1. So many good thoughts you’ve shared, Yvonne. And I have a feeling the reason you don’t feel abandoned is that you are sticking close to the truth about God’s good intentions for you, even when the way forward is unclear.


  10. I kept a journal for the first year each of my boys were born and there are so many passages where I sound completely lost and overwhelmed. There are so many seasons of life that feel so incredibly hard… usually until we’ve passed them and look back on them. With hindsight we are able to see so much more than the day to day struggles.


  11. The quote that you’ve included “Belief is best evidenced by what we do…” is so thought provoking when you think of it in this way. Thank you for joining us for this weeks #DreamTeamLinky – I hope your journals gave you much joy – it’s always fascinating looking back over your own past writings.


  12. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sometimes the best experiences are the ones we find by accident. When we feel lost, we should be reassured that Someone knows what the plan is for us. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging


  14. I’ve walked thru box-checking seasons and they felt so barren. I love the part about how the duties come from overflow and we can’t get it backwards


  15. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn .

    Liked by 1 person

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