He will not let your foot slip . . . (Psalm 121:3).
Some people are always looking for the next thing. You may be one of those people. You may be pondering the next trip, the next deal, the next semester, the next date. You may see exactly where you’re headed and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how to get there. Or maybe not.
You may have no idea what’s next. A lack of clarity may have you stuck. Maybe even a lack of courage. Maybe your next move is confronting you with some equally attractive or equally dreadful options. Which one to take?
The movie Searching for Bobby Fischer is the story of a young chess prodigy, Josh Waitzkin. The film follows Josh’s rise to national prominence, culminating in the match for the national title – a match played against another young genius who, in a previous match, had caused Josh to doubt himself and his abilities.
At one point in this national title match Josh loses a key piece, the queen, to his opponent. Josh is clearly rattled. He turns his gaze intently to the board, imagining in his mind a blank playing surface. Everything around him seems to vanish as he calculates his next move and the likely responses from the player seated opposite him.
With each move captured on a TV monitor, Josh’s coach and parents watch nervously from another room. At this critical moment in the match, the coach sees the path to victory. He whispers to monitor: “It’s there Josh. It’s only twelve moves away. Don’t move until you see it.” Josh gazes at the board until those twelve moves unfold in his mind, and then he sees it. You can probably guess how the story ends.
At times, I’ve tried to look at my life the way Josh Waitzkin looked at that chess board. I’ve wanted to see the next twelve moves unfold, a clear path to the win or at least the best outcome. God does grant to some a visionary gift, but most of us cannot see the next twelve moves. Typically life is lived one move at a time. The chess coach urged Josh not to move until he could see the win. By contrast, God asks us not to stand still. We make the next move and trust God for the one after that.
Psalm 121 gives us words to pray when we’re pondering the next move. We are reminded over and over that God will “keep” us. The Psalm makes no promises as to what will come our way as we move ahead. Threats and risks are real. We don’t get twelve moves to the win in Psalm 121.
Take time to look carefully at the blank board. See as deeply as you can into what lies in front of you. But do not expect to see every move. At some point simply make the next move. Step into this day trusting God to do what he has promised to do. He will not let your foot slip.
What next move are you pondering and praying about today?
Guide us, O God, to whatever comes next. Give us grace for the next move, knowing that you make our steps firm. We ask you to confirm the right direction and correct what is misguided. We trust you to do this work in us as we seek to follow you and serve you with our lives. Let our next move – and every move – bring us more in line with your will, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.