By Nicholas Vafiades
The phrase, “getting the lay of the land,” originally referred to geographically understanding how the land is laid out with its various features before plotting a course or plan of action. But that phrase for map-making and traversing the landscape has now become an expression in common usage that refers to scoping out the current circumstances and situations. And especially doing so before beginning an endeavor or plan of action. So, while this phrase may not appear in the Bible, the concept is actually quite common in Scripture. And it is a place where I have found myself for the past few months.
In my time in both the for-profit and non-profit work worlds, I have spent most of my time communicating with others both inside and outside the organizations through written and spoken forms of communicating. But the Lord has now brought me to a new place where I am finally able to use my gifts, skills, and experiences to bless others and possibly help further God’s kingdom. But how best to do that? That is why I am getting the lay of the land before me.
The Bible often speaks about coming to a place of decision and the processes a person of God should go through as they think about the best course of action. Most often, the word you will find in most translations for this is “consider,” which means to plan, devise, think on, etc. I think about the contrasts between Saul and David in the OT, where they both had to look at the “lay of the land” before deciding on their next step, but where Saul went on his own best ideas, David consistently sought out the Lord and His wisdom as part of his decision of what to do next. And the saints in the NT always sought direction from the Spirit before proceeding — even if it meant going against where and when they originally wanted to go.
As I look at the lay of the land before me right now in terms of how best to use my writing and editing to minister to and assist others, you also may be in a place where you have a particular plot of land to figure how it lays for you. Perhaps you will join me in a prayer:
Father God, I stand in a place of decision, and I want to make the decision that is in accordance with your will and your plans for me. I don’t want to be either impatient and move ahead of you or impertinent in the belief that my plans are better for me than your plans. Please help me to wait on you, to hear your voice when you speak to me, and then to have the faith and courage to follow where you direct. In the excellent and holy Name of Your Son, Jesus, amen.