Establishing Our Steps

My husband, Ken, remembers and recounts the thrill he felt when he was around the age of 8 and his dad would let him “drive” the family boat on Piseco Lake in the Adirondacks. The engine would cruise at a steady pace and all he needed to do was keep the steering wheel on course or perhaps make a smooth, wide turn. 

Now, when we take our daughters out in a different family boat on Greenwood Lake, Ken loves to give them the chance to experience the same thrill. He’ll get the boat up to speed carving steadily through the blue-green water and then he’ll turn to one of them and slyly say, “Wanna drive?” The answer is always “Yes!” as they hop into the driver’s seat and fantasize that they are, in fact, in total control of a sizable piece of machinery and can careen around at will. 

The reality is that Ken is sitting directly behind them should there be any sudden turns or dangers. And in reality, they would never willingly take control of the wheel if they thought our safety rested entirely in their hands.

As I watched this picture, I thought of how beautifully it represents the relationship dynamic between my heavenly Father and me, especially during the past few years. I want to drive. Sometimes, I even think I am driving. But then life takes an unexpected turn, and I am reminded that I am not in control, nor do I really want to be. 

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

The Lord has indeed established my steps to enter places of healing that I never expected to encounter. I had my own ideas for how my career would progress, how my children’s education would go, and for how certain relationships would play out. But as I reflect, I realize that my plans would have kept me circling safely near the dock, rather than crossing deep waters to experience growth. For me, some of that growth brought forth freedom from the bondage of people-pleasing and the praise of man. 

And when I realize that He could have left me there, I am so grateful He chose not to. He chose to grow in me skills and abilities at work that I never planned to attain, change my priorities for what my children will experience and accomplish, and free me from accepting relational yokes that are not mine to take on. I am still traveling through the deep waters. I am grateful that “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3).

As I succumb to some of the painful healing and changing, some days I feel resentful that I am not driving. I admit that, at times, I begrudgingly sail through the doldrums of windless waters. And I think, again, that I know where I am heading, and I know what the results will be. But then God allows joy to spring up in me in a new way as a result of the healing and growth. An opportunity arises. I no longer worry about “the issue.” A relationship heads in a new direction. I experience fruit. And through these unexpected changes, I am reminded that: 

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 

I am so grateful that He does not allow my ways to steer. I am so grateful that He is in control of the direction of my life, and I can trust Him. 


Meredith Kohlbrenner  and her family have been members of GRC since 2017.