“He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3b
Jesus went around Galilee finding many to whom he said, “Follow Me.” And they did, some following closer than others. Peter was one who was in the closest circle of all, right up near to Jesus, hearing every word, witnessing every miracle, and even being empowered to do the same himself.
Then the human inevitable happened. When Jesus was telling the disciples He was going to Jerusalem and would be killed there, Peter rushed over and said, essentially, “No way. We will never let that happen to you.” The one who was supposed to be following decided to lead. Whoops! When Jesus said “Follow Me” the implication was, “Let Me lead” and He rebuked Peter’s well-intentioned but misguided attempt at a takeover.
Do we let Him lead? Even when we don’t agree with the path He has chosen for us? Even when it seems like He is making a mistake or doesn’t understand? Following Jesus is good, but each of us will come to crossroads when we have to decide if we will let Him lead.
He wants to show us how to spend our time, how to respond to people, how to help, what to read, how to spend. He gives it as both a command and an invitation: “Follow Me.”
We are not following some trail guide randomly finding His way through the landscape of life. We are following the One who is the way. If we believe that, we must let Him lead. Anything less would be foolishness.
“If we cling to the trinkets of this world and reject the radical invitation of Jesus, we will miss out on the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing Him.” – David Platt
“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17
Sometimes life is hard. We find ourselves caught up in situations we can’t control. At that point, we have a choice either to trust God or break into a thousand pieces. I have learned that when God puts us in that kind of a bind, He has a purpose. He is stretching us to make us usable beyond our wildest dreams. When I protested recently, He said something like this,
I know it’s hard to trust Me with everything, especially with those you love. If you can’t trust Me, trust My purpose. Everything that comes into your life is meant to help you, not to hurt you.
Look at how I stretched the disciples beyond their comfort zones:
- Sending them out two by two, asking them to heal, cast out demons, announce the kingdom. They were fishermen and common men. These were villages and people they knew. It was a stretch!
- Storms on the Sea of Galilee – pretty scary.
- Confrontations with the Pharisees. My disciples honored these rulers and cringed when I countered them.
- John the Baptist’s death. That just didn’t fit into their thinking.
- Speaking in parables. They wanted everyone to understand what they had found. Couldn’t figure out why I didn’t speak in plain language.
- My treatment of my earthly family. So counter-cultural. They cringed then, too.
I stretched them beyond recognition, but look who they became. Trust My purpose. It has a goal and it is good.
“It is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.” – C. S. Lewis
“I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.” – Philippians 4:11 (Amplified Bible)
“Dear God, it seems I am never satisfied. Instead I always have a new goal to pursue or want one more thing to change – a relationship, a habit, or an attitude. I am getting tired of always reaching. Instead, I sense You calling me to contentment, to quit looking for more or better. Sometimes just to stop and enjoy what is.”
“My child, My desire is that you live free of worries about appearances, clothing, finances, and food. Live, instead, close to the earth, close to Me, My name easily on your lips and always in your heart.
And always give thanks.
Oh, and one more thing: Just for today, put down your notepad, stop making lists, and simply enjoy being in My presence and walking wherever I take you. Contentment always follows when you are on the path with Me.”
“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.” – George Macdonald
“Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?” – C. S. Lewis
Last week I met a woman who told me about her daughter Kristy who was diagnosed with cancer at age 31. When the severity of the situation was known and she realized she had only a few months to live, Kristy sat in the backyard of her Georgia home asking God to walk with her through this frightening journey.
As she sat there, a peacock strutted out, opened wide his astounding tail feathers, and just stood there. Kristy immediately knew this peacock was a gift from her heavenly Father who wanted her to know how much He loved her. But it wasn’t until later that she discovered what it really meant.
You see, early Christian tombs were often decorated with symbols showing the deceased’s commitment to Christ. The cross did not come to be the accepted symbol of Christianity until the third century. So, at the Catacombs in Rome, the most common symbols were the fish (ichthus) and the peacock. Why a peacock? In the ancient world the peacock represented eternal life.
God had, indeed, given Kristy a great message. I imagine when she arrived in Heaven a few months later, she said something like “Oh, now I understand.” And it wouldn’t have been just about peacocks – it would have been about her whole life: the pain, the joys, the brevity, and the promise of eternal life that the peacock represented in her backyard that day.
Sometimes when we need it most, God pulls back the curtain and gives us a peek into His heart and His eternal plan. When He does, we love Him even more!
“I love the Lord because He heard my plea for mercy and listened to me.” – Psalm 116:1-2b (NET)
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.” – Psalm 18:2a
Who is the first person you call or text when you face a crisis? I hope we all have someone we can turn to when we need a listening ear or a helping hand.
I recently read about John the Baptist who was unfairly imprisoned because his theology clashed with King Herod’s lifestyle. Then, at a party when Herod had had too much alcohol and was enamored with his stepdaughter’s dancing, he suddenly ordered John’s execution. John’s disciples were notified of the beheading, so they sadly came and buried his body.
What to do now? Their leader was gone and they had taken care of handling the immediate crisis. They could have gone home in despair, but instead, Matthew tells us “Then they went and told Jesus.” (Mt. 14:12).
Why Jesus? Maybe because they knew . . .
- He would want to know.
- He would comfort them.
- He would have a plan for what to do next.
I can’t think of a better way to handle any crisis, big or small, that might come into our lives. Jesus wants us to express our anxiety, grief, or loss to Him – in detail. He doesn’t start yawning halfway through our stories. More than than that, He will meet us at the point of our deepest need, the need we may not even know we have. Then He will guide us into the next right steps.
Now is a really good time to talk to Him.
“If we draw near to Him, then He will make His presence tangible in our lives.” – Henry Blackaby
“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” – Psalm 63:5-8
When I was in college, I had a Christian professor who told us that when she went to bed at night, she prayed God would use the nighttime hours to speak to her. I thought that was a little “far out” at the time, but was intrigued because it seemed efficient –seriously! Over time, though, I realized that nighttime may be the only time when I have relinquished control of my brain. Maybe, it is the best time for God to be able to talk to me without my interference. Then I began to find Bible verses showing that God wants to relate to us even while we are in bed, sleeping or awake.
So, I have learned to fall asleep with a Bible verse, a prayer, or a hymn in my mind. That way, I feel I am leaving my subconscious self open to the Spirit of God as I rest. Then I say something like this to God: “I pray that my heart will be so fully yielded to You and my mind so saturated in Your Word that the nighttime processing will be instructive. I never want to be outside of Your teaching, correction, guidance, wisdom – even while my body sleeps”.
And, He answers that prayer. How?
• Sometimes I wake up with a solution to a problem that seemed unsolvable the night before.
• Or I will remember a dream that seems to give me direction or comfort.
• Or I will have a Bible verse come to mind that was just what I needed to hear.
• Or I simply feel His loving presence with me as I sleep.
You may want to ask Him to speak to you in the nighttime hours, too. He might just be waiting for your invitation.
“I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” (Psalm 16:7)
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
God speaks. Sometimes we don’t hear very well, but we have to acknowledge that God tries to let us know who He is, what He wants, and how the world should work. I recently read Acts 11 and found five different means God used to communicate to two men in this one chapter
- A vision (v.4)
- A voice from heaven (v. 7)
- The Holy Spirit’s direction (v. 12)
- An angel’s instruction (v. 13)
- The teaching of Jesus (v. 16)
I haven’t had visions, seen angels, or heard an audible voice from heaven, but
- I have sensed the Holy Spirit’s direction, sometimes as a nudge, often as a thought He brings to my mind or a Scripture He highlights as I read.
- I have learned much about life, values, commitment, and obedience from the life and teaching of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit seems to bring the right teaching to my mind just when I need it.
- I believe the angels are ministering to me even though I can’t see them (Hebrews 1:14).
God is way beyond our ability to comprehend, but He continues to communicate with us to reveal His will and His love. I am so thankful for His desire to reach out to us and to help us learn to be aware, to listen carefully, to respond with faith, and to obey immediately. When we do, we find more and more communication flowing from the heart and mind of God to ours. There is nothing more precious in life than that. We were created to respond to our speaking God.