I was surprised while reading Moby Dick the other day because I felt envious of Captain Ahab. Ahab the madman, who convinces his crew to forsake their mission for money in order to exact vengeance on the whale that took his leg, had me wallowing in the sin of jealousy — and he’s a fictional character.
The scene that got to me features Ahab alone in his chambers, taking a few moments to stew over his hatred for Moby Dick, when he begins thinking about his mission. He gives himself a pep talk of sorts, thinking there is nothing that can stop him from killing the monstrous sperm whale, and then explains just how clear his mission is to him:
The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run.
I got jealous of Ahab when I read that line because, if I’m completely honest, I sometimes find myself fuzzy on what exactly I’m called to do. I don’t like to share that often because it makes other people nervous, but when I’m going through particularly difficult times in work or in ministry I find myself thinking, Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing? If I’m supposed to do this, then why am I struggling so much?
I believe “[God] has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). There is great comfort for me in knowing not only that God has made me new, but he also has things for me to do!
But I often wish I were more like Ahab, a train on the clearly defined tracks of his own purpose, but in another sense I’m glad that’s not the case. Knowing the inclinations of my own heart, I suspect I would become more about the mission than about trusting the mission-giver. I would press on full steam ahead toward the goal but forget to lean on God in the process.
So for that reason I’m grateful God often reveals what we need to know when we need to know it, and nothing more. He offers us directions one turn at a time, keeping us dependent on him and, in the process, showing us that when we walk in step with his Spirit he’ll never lead us astray.