In the classic volume, “The Fellowship of the Ring”, the protagonist, Frodo Baggins, makes the following statement*:
‘I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.’
Frodo had just spoken up when no one else would, and agreed to do a bold and dangerous thing – something that could well lead to his destruction. He was willing to take action. However, left to his own abilities, he did not have enough knowledge to achieve the goal that he had just agreed to.
While Middle Earth is fictional, we may find ourselves in a situation where a lack of ability or knowledge keeps us from taking the next step. Paralyzed by fear, or encumbered by worry and doubt, we don’t make a commitment because we don’t know all of the answers. If you’re in that situation, you’re in good company.
However, when we find ourselves at this point, that isn’t a valid excuse to avoid moving forward.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB
Once we have the will or direction to do something, we don’t always have the detailed knowledge of how to move forward. Sometimes, though, the key step is just to make a decision – to pick a goal or a target. I’ve been in this situation, before. For instance, I’ve agreed to go on mission trips without knowing how the details will work out. I’ve accepted jobs that I didn’t know how to do. And, I asked my future wife to marry me, not realizing all of what that would entail. (As you might imagine, I’m still figuring that last one out, but I’m glad I knew enough to make the right decision in the first place.)
In each of the examples above (from my own life), there were some common elements of success:
- The first step is always to take a step. When the right destination is made obvious to us, remaining still is no longer a valid means of getting there. (Admittedly, when the way is not clear, a prerequisite to that first step may be to ask God for direction.)
- Others were present who could provide guidance. Whether help comes directly from God (through his leading or through the Bible), from other Christians, or from those with expertise in a particular field, we are not alone in our journey.
- The end result was positive. Even if I had to learn as I go, and sometimes take on problems without knowing the solution, the results of the decisions I described above were exciting and memorable.
Alternatively, we may be the one who is called to guide others on their journey. We might not consider ourselves an expert, but we can help. We might not get the credit, but we can do our part. Paul writes about teamwork in 1 Corinthians 3:
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NASB
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t “count the cost” of decisions, especially when our path isn’t clear. However, once we decide where we need to go, if it’s in line with God’s direction, I’ve found that we can usually find help to get there.
- From “The Fellowship of the Ring”, by J.R.R. Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988, p.284.