How often do we feel we are going the wrong way when we are really going the only way?
I wonder how often we are truly following God and His plan and the devil comes up behind us and covers our eyes making us think we are going the wrong way. How often do we stop and change course because the devil has blinded us to the path?
God is fighting for us. That doesn’t just mean in our stead He is also fighting to keep us. As God is directing our paths we constantly have the devil telling us we are going the wrong way; that we aren’t following God but are following ourselves, even though we know that is not true.
Sometimes when God is quiet the devil gets very very loud and that can confuse us. But if we focus on God and pray, even if we don’t hear God He can send us a feeling to His direction. Sometimes in the heart racking sobs the unbelievable peace that hits you is God answering you. Sometimes in the wistful joy it’s the pang of uncertainty that is God saying, “be careful.” I have no answer to the question of, “what do I do God?” Because I am not you and only you can know what God is saying to you. It’s that still small voice; that impossible whisper that guides us. It can be so hard to hear, but don’t lose heart because Jesus knows what He is doing with you and He will show you the next safe place to put your foot.
Credit to owner for cover image
God is not like smaug, the great dragon from the Hobbit, where when we come into His lair trembling and say “I had heard stories about you but I did not believe them,” he stands back from us flexing the scales across his chest and blowing a snort of smoke out of his nose he proplaclaims, “and do you now?”
In contrast when we come up to Jesus trembling saying, ” I had heard stories of you my Lord, but I did not believe them.” He looks at us with love and responds, “I know, I have been waiting for you to come and see me for yourself.” Then He hugs us and all our fears and sins and scars melt away and not only do we believe the stories we now know the man they are about and we know He loves us. His gentle embrace following us everywhere we go until we get to live with Him in His kingdom. There is no dragon pride, just the gentle/powerful/all knowing/unending love of a king.
(Credit to owner for the cover image)
When you light a candle and sit basking in its glow you will always find that the closer you are to it the warmer you are, but the further you get from it the colder you get. It’s common knowledge. God is like that candle. At first we are lit on fire by the Holy Spirit; we seek and long for God, we search out ways to draw closer to Him and our hope grows and our Faith grows and we feel powerful because of Him! But as time goes on most people start to find that they don’t have the time to put into seeking God, or they just don’t feel like seeking God anymore. He’s always there right? Why should I seek after Him it’s not like He’s going anywhere! And these people find themselves growing farther away from God, farther away from the warmth and are now out in the cold. Has God left them out in the cold? Has He abandoned us in these times? NO! Our frigid existence is our own doing. God gave us free will and we want to be able to make our own choices, so why do we blame God when those choices draw us away from Him and we find Him hard to find? If you blow out the flame the warmth leaves with it.
What do you do when God seems hard to find? I heard a Church planter once say “God always hides in obvious places.” God is in your devotional reading, your worship time, your prayer time, your Bible reading, your Church attendance. God is always easy to find if you look for Him because He wants to be found. The more you seek Him the closer to the flame you get and the warmer you feel until all chill of the outside world washes away. All fear, sorrow, doubt is gone and you have the peace of Jesus and the comfort of the Hold Spirit and the always guiding hand of God, now you are safe and warm.
Remember that famous scene from Aladdin when he takes Jasmine for the magic carpet ride? Do you recall how that scene began? It began with a simple question. Do you trust me?
How often does Jesus reach out His hand and ask, “do you trust me?” Do we trust Him? Are we confident that the carpet can hold us? Are we asking Him “is it safe?” And then realizing that God is never safe and finding that that scares us. Just like the Beavers said about Aslan, “of course He isn’t safe, but He is good”. Of course the ride isn’t going to be safe but God is good, all the time. We may not see it always, but God is always doing good for us. The tips of the updrafts and the smack of the wind may not always feel comfortable, but Jesus takes us out of our comfort zones so that we can find a ‘whole new world’. If we don’t ever step off the balcony we will never find the magic of the adventure.
Next point, remember how the Genie said (in humor) “always keep your hands and arms inside the carpet”? We must remember to always keep ourselves within the Holy Spirit. We can wander too far to the edge and fall away from Him. Yes He will catch you if you call on Him, but the fall is a horrible thing that is better to avoid. Within the carpet you Are safe, trying to walk on air by yourself is impossible.
There are a lot of carpets out there, but the only magic one that will take you on an amazing journey is the one with the savior holding out His hand, asking if you trust Him enough to let go of the edge and fly.
In our lives we will undoubtedly come across mountains we have to climb; there’s no way past them but up. We stand there at the base of the mountain looking at the thick, prickly trees and the 80 degree uphill grade, the top of the mountain is so high it has it’s own, personal cloud and we think to ourselves, ‘there has to be another way.’ So we begin looking for an easier route.We walk for miles as far as we can go around the base of the mountain in one direction and then in the other. We then find ourselves standing in our original spot, 10 times more tired and 10 times more discouraged as we realize we just wasted all that time and energy looking for a way around a solid rock foundation and could have been at least a third of the way to the top by now if we had just hitched up our socks and started climbing. Does this sound familiar? Well I bet it did for Moses too, he waited 40 years in the desert 100% relying on God for EVERYTHING because his people didn’t want to go through the hardship that they would face in entering the promise land. In the end God showed them that the view from the top of the mountain is well worth the climb, but it took a while to get them up there. God gets it. He’s patient with us and waits as we weigh our options but in the end we have to climb. We may get dirty and bloody and sore climbing to the top but once we sit down on the summit and look at the rushing waterfall beneath us and the crisp, cloudy air around us cools and soothes our aching bones we realize that without the climb we would never have gotten to look down upon a rainbow. God pushes us for a reason. No matter what we go through He uses it to draw us into His presence and to show us His power. He is building us into who we were meant to be and even though other people might not understand the climb and might try to persuade you to stay in the valley you taking that first, second, third, final step is putting you in God’s will; what else could we possibly wish for?
Now that I live in the country one of my favorite things to do is sit out at night and watch the stars. Out where we are there is virtually no light pollution so we can see billions of stars and the depth of sky and the milky way is so vivid you could almost touch it. One thing I like to do is pick a star and make a wish (yes I know that’s silly but it makes me smile.) Tonight as I made my wish I noticed my star shift places and realized I had made a wish on a satellite. This made me realize how often we think we are wishing on stars and they turn out to be satilites. We put all our hopes into one big dream and it ends up being less than we expected. Say you wanted to sing professionally and you put all your effort into getting that one big hit, but when it comes and you start chasing that dream you find yourself discontented with the stage life. Now what? You’ve put all you have into this opportunity and now you don’t feel you can move on. Let me tell you something I heard a great speaker once say, “if you are feeling a push to move into something new it very well might be God preparing you for something that is coming.” Trust your calling, trust that that voice may be God wanting you to do something else. Everything has it’s season and maybe it’s your season to start God’s dream for you. Now wait, don’t go quit your job, pack your backpack and go because a new calling isn’t always what’s going on, discontentment and God moving can be different things; so pray hard and involve people you trust to pray with you because you want to be sure it’s God before you move. God is the star, solid in the sky and unwavering; our own ambitions however can easily be a satellite, here right now and gone somewhere else in a few moments. We must trust that God does have a purpose for us (because He does) and we must wait upon Him to move us when it is time. Instead of wishing upon satellites turn to God in prayer and open your heart to hear His answer.
Recently I fell in love with a song about Cape Breton island that refers to the island being rimmed with lighthouses. The song says how the lighthouses are more than just beacons in the night, they are lights to guide the wanderer home, which of course made me think of Jesus. Jesus isn’t just a beacon in the night to help us on our way and when we are back on course we turn our sails away and continue without Him; Jesus is a bright light guiding us to Him, showing us the way back to truth and into His kingdom (our home). Jesus sends out His light, reaching over the dark expanse between us and Him and He touches us with His pure guiding hand and we are drawn home. Not only is Jesus a true, strong, active lighthouse but He has given us range lights along the way in the form of our pastors, and missionaries and evangelists and so on. A range light is a structure similar to a lighthouse, but it’s there primarily to guide ships through treacherous and shallow water when traversing a canal or other small body of water. So a range light is there for the small community, for the group that it can reach. Our ministry leaders are put in place to guide us through life and direct us toward our savior Jesus who is there to show us the only way into Heaven. Range lights are very important and sometimes do great work in assisting the lighthouse, like all people who do the work of Christ by reaching their community and guiding people into Jesus’ light. It doesn’t matter if your audience is small like a canal or endless like the ocean Jesus has a special place for you to shine. Sometimes all you need to do is be there, you may never know who you’ve helped by just shining your way through life. When we are guided into our savior’s presence and find a safe place in His harbor we are on our way to becoming more of His range lights to help others come to Him.
Have you ever noticed how when the ocean tide goes out there are streams of deep water that get left behind. Part of the ocean has gotten caught by shifting sands and has become separated from the rest. Now imagine those tributaries are us and the ocean is God. We go through life as Christians walking with God. He flows in we flow in, He flows out we follow; but sometimes we flow someplace that God doesn’t want us to go and we enjoy that place. God will wait and wait but eventually we don’t want Him with us and we become shallow, tidal pools. Then we realize that where we are is not a place God is and that when we decided to separate from Him we chose a life of loneliness. We start to look around for Him only to find we have put a large expanse of sand between us and Him. But God always leaves ways for us to get back to Him and when we find those paths through the darkness we rush toward our saviour. Sometimes we sing along the way, sometimes we simply flow because if we forget where we are going and why we may end up back on shore. As we run to Him God rushes to us and pulls us into Himself so we are safe. Sometimes there are sand bars to cross and bit of debris floating along with us, but the expanse of God’s holiness and grace pulls us over the hard times and envelops the junk we bring with us so we are clean again and one with Him. Without the ocean, tidal pools are just salty ponds; Without Jesus, people are just empty shells. Follow the sea paths back to the ocean and let God heal you.
The most defiant words in the Christian vocabulary are “it is well with my soul!”
This statement stands us apart from the rest of the world. The devil tries to take us down using things that tear at our souls. Troubles that drag at our minds, sting at our hearts and eventually cause us to fall to our knees and beg for relief; these things the devil uses to try to hurt our souls. Our souls connect us to God; our bodies stay earthbound but our souls receive a new body in Heaven, that’s why the devil tries to get a hold of them. The moment we win against the devil is the moment when we are on our knees, head hung low to the ground, tears pouring down our faces and we hear ourselves say, “it is well, with my soul!” That’s the moment the chains shatter. That statement is an ultimate statement of Faith. It may not be well with any other part of us, it may not be well with any person who sees us but if it is well with our souls we win. God wins. God never leaves us in those moments, He is always there; but there are times when WE need to make the breakthrough happen. There are times when evil spirits hold our rescuer back and those are times when we need to pray until we feel the breakthrough. When we stare down the beast, though we are battered and torn and we look him in eye and we yell, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!” That moment he will either turn and run or stare you down and snort out a hot breath of indignation and that’s when you keep repeating it, and repeating it and repeating it until it truly is well with your soul and then your beast will have no strength and he will flee. Weary after your prayer battle, when you fall with relief from your victory and you feel Jesus catch you, you will know that all is well, with your soul and that your comforter has made it to you to hold you safe and heal your hurt and take away your exhaustion. So make those 6 words your battle cry today. In the midst of it all stand defiant before the demons who bear down upon you and let them know that it is still well with your soul!
Nothing we desire is coincidence. Now don’t misread this, some desires are set in us by the devil because he wants to lead us to sin, and some are simply human desires because we are, well, human; but many if not most of our desires are given to us by God because He is guiding us to become the person He wants us to be. I am often overtaken by a longing for the Ocean, not just to stand on her shores and admire her beauty, but to be out on her, sailing, so far out that I haven’t seen the shore for days and have no idea what lies ahead on the vast depth of horizon. I often wonder why I desire this, is God drawing me to something that involves the ocean? Am I going to end up somewhere out at sea with no connection to the land? Maybe, or maybe I read too many Jules Verne novels. But if God did end up sending me out to sea, to search the oceans, I would not be spiritually wandering from Him, I would be physically wandering with Him. Missionaries travel this whole world, because they are wandering in the guidance of the Spirit. Sometimes if your soul seems to be yearning to go someplace and/or do something it’s because God is sending you onto your next horizon, it’s because HE wants you to share in an adventure with Him. When Gandalf came to Bilbo’s quiet countryside home and found the hobbit smoking his pipe on a bench he already knew that the journey needed Bilbo, and Bilbo needed the journey; he wasn’t searching for just anyone to go with him on his adventure, he was searching for that one, particular hobbit because no one else would do. When God starts to make our souls uncomfortable and makes us desire to wander it’s because He knows that the journey needs our special touch, our unique character, and He knows that we need the journey and that in the end we will be even closer to Him. Because the amount of times we fall on this journey and the amount of times God catches us add up to make our faith stronger and our focus more clearly on Jesus as our goal. So let go wandering spirit and wander away, you never know what your wandering is preparing you for.