Are we there yet? – Every child on every road trip…ever.
Not all those who wander are lost. – J.R.R. Tolkien
I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them. – Isaiah 42:16
I can remember being in the back of the station wagon for what seemed to be hours on end. Getting bored of picking fights with my sister or staring out the window at scenery that never seemed to change. I grew up in North Texas and no matter what direction you choose, you are a few hours travel time before the landscape looks much different. Inevitably, within about thirty minutes, my sister and I would start with the standard question: “Are we there yet?” Oh, it might have been phrased a little different from time to time, such as “How much longer?” or “What time will we be there?”, but it was all the same question.
Now, as the dad and driver on these excursions, I am on the opposite side. I admit it that I have it a lot better than my parents did. Now days, we have electronic games and DVD players that can help pass the time for the kiddos. Back when I was growing up, you were lucky if you could find decent radio stations to listen to along the way. Although I am on the opposite side now, I still want to know how much longer. Sometimes, even if I know the route I will take, I plug the destination into my Navi just so it can tell me how many more miles and about what time we will arrive.
I tend to get absorbed with destinations. Whether it be a physical destination, career, family, or whatever, there seems to always be a destination or goal involved. It makes me uneasy when there is not a clear destination. I remember when I was in high school, growing up in a rural community, one of the primary past times was to just drive around, especially on the dirt roads out in the country. I never wanted to be the driver when the aim was just to drive around. I need a plan, a destination. If the plan was to just drive around on the “drag” (which was just a big circle through town that had the Sonic on one end and the Quick Stop on the other) I was your guy, but if it required meandering without a specific path or destination, we could take my vehicle but someone else needed to drive. I am still that way as an adult.
If I am driving and the path is not set, I get so preoccupied with the task of driving that I cannot simply enjoy the journey and take in the sites, I can only focus on the road ahead.
This struggle bleeds into my spiritual life as well. You see, being a follower of Christ is much more of a journey than a destination. We know that the destination in authentic Christianity and to be like Christ. We also know that we will not achieve that goal or destination on this side of eternity. Along this journey are many forks and we must choose which path to take. At many junctions, the right direction (toward Christ) is obvious (right or wrong turns), other times the best path is not so obvious (right or left turns) when the paths are spiritually neutral. Much like driving on the dirt roads back in Jack County, I can get overcome with analysis paralysis. Can we get so focused on making the best decision, that we are unable to enjoy the ride? Most of the time the decision seems to be between one path that seems difficult and a path that seems easier, if not easy. Sometimes it is a choice between a known (staying the course) and an unknown (taking on something totally new). Is there a right or wrong in this situation? Probably not. Is there a good or best in this situation? Probably, but this is a step in our faith journey.
No one wants life to be a struggle, but it is the struggles that increase our faith and our confidence in God. If we belong to Him, the one thing that we must keep in mind is that God can use whatever we choose for His Glory. One thing that has really pressed on me lately is that results are in God’s realm, but effort is in that of man. Perhaps, we get too bogged down with anticipated destinations (results). Most of the time, these decisions involve, jobs, or schools, or where to live. I think that the key is to have confidence that God has blessing awaiting in every direction. It is also likely that a struggle or two lay in every path as well. Focus on Him and pray that He be glorified in your path and in your struggles. If you cannot seem to pray that He be glorified in the decision you are making, you are probably looking at a right or wrong path as opposed to a right or left. If you can honestly pray that He be glorified in your decision, rest easy and proceed in His blessing.
"If you don't know someone, your default setting is to fear them," says John Kirby - National Outreach Partner at TBC. John has a vision of interrupting this feeling and building bridges between people of different cultures and backgrounds in America. Trinity is proud to partner with John Kirby in this mission. Recently, "Uncle John" as he is affectionately known was featured in a local news article in Detroit Metro Times. Take a moment to read through how God is using John Kirby to reach our growing immigrant population and be in prayer for this great work.
“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” Colossians 3:9-10
God built us to serve others. Jesus saved us so that we could serve others to his glory. We all know that. We all talk about how Jesus saved us, and we should love one another and model what Jesus did. But how many times have we reached out to that person at work, or in social settings who is not like us or who seems a little quirky? God created ALL of us and Jesus died for the sins of EACH one of us. Not just us as in our friends and Christian buddies but ALL of us. Our responsibility is to love them and serve and lead and influence. Matthew wrote about this in 22:36-40. (You shall love your neighbor as yourself v. 39)
During the work week, I challenge you to find that one guy or gal by the water cooler who we normally would not say anything to and just say “hi” or “have a great weekend”. Perhaps something that simple could make a difference to that person that would cause them to see you more as Jesus. Or maybe at Walmart, we give the checkout lady a little extra time and attention and ask her how her day is going, AND actively listen to her response. It can be uncomfortable, or it might take up a little extra valuable time from our day but it’s what is asked of us by Jesus when he gave his LIFE for us and gave his time for us on the cross.
In Psalm 19:13-14 King David makes this prayerful request to God:
“Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
This prayer request should be made every day by every Christian. A presumptuous sin is one that is deliberate; or to be put more plainly, a sin that you know is a sin, the Holy Spirit is convicting you, and yet you still proceed to commit it. I am guilty of this and will, undoubtedly, be guilty of this in the future; not because I want to be but because I am fallible. Yet, the love of God is infallible and He continues to love us the same despite our rebellious actions. Scripture tells us to call upon him in times of such temptation:
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
How many times could a sin have been avoided if in that moment of temptation, we quieted our thoughts, and ask God for help? How much more prepared would we be if every morning we started out with a prayer such as the one David prayed? A prayer that not only shows humility and a desire to be faithful, but also a desire for correction. We should always seek God’s correction. It is through His sacrifice, His love, and His blood that we have been undeservedly redeemed and justified. Spend time with God, and request the discipline to overcome temptation, but also for God to renew your mind (Romans 12:2) in such a way that will glorify Him.
The Life of Christ
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Cor. 5:21
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8
Now that the Christmas season is about to be upon us again, I am pondering not just the birth of our Savior, but His life. Much is made of His birth and His death/resurrection and rightfully so, but there has been something pressing on me for a while about the life of Christ.
Have you ever thought about the fact that He came for a singular purpose…to die on a cross for us. Not only did He come to die an agonizing death for our benefit, but He had to first live a sinless life to even make the sacrifice count. Have you ever thought about how weighty that really is? To live a sinless, perfect life, devoid of pride, forsaking any will other than the will of the Father, all the time knowing that the cross awaits. Remember that Jesus lived many years before His ministry started. Other than His birth and a couple of early incidents, the Bible only records about the last three years of his life. He lived for over 3 decades…sinless.
We know that the path was stressful, the kind of stress that I cannot really wrap my mind around. It was stressful enough that He was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22. He asked that the Father change His will and take the cup, but God the Father obviously told Him that there was no other way. So, Jesus put aside any of His own interests and pursued the path given Him. He was then led to the cross to die for us who were enemies of God at the time. All the while, fully knowing of the excruciating death that was in store for Him. Bearing the sin of the world and suffering the separation from God that everyone except Jesus deserves. All of this was made possible by the Life of Christ in perfect obedience to the Father.
Have you ever, even once, believed that you knew what God wanted you to do, but failed to do it for whatever reason? I have, and more than just once. This simple act of disobedience just one time would have disqualified Jesus from being our sacrifice and our separation from God would have endured.
Today, may we honor not only the sacrificial death of Christ, but His sacrificial life as well.