Psalm 5:8 “Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make straight Your way before me.”
When I was a kid my family would travel from our small town of Hood River, Oregon, to my grandparents house some 200 miles away. Prior to Hood River becoming the wind surfing capital of the world, it wasn’t much to look at. Its high winds were more of a nuisance and the steep hills above the Columbia River gave it an image of a simple stop-over town and not the destination it’s come to be for outdoor enthusiasts today.
The town of Deadwood, where my grandparents lived made Hood River look like a metropolis. The only store in site was a combination post office. Flowing rivers snaked through green valleys and the round barn on the way was always a signpost that the trip was nearly complete. It felt like we drove for days to get to the old blue house on my grandparents farm. My sister and I would ask my dad, “how many corners left ’til we get there?”, then once we received an answer we would begin counting down.
The long journey was turned into joy the moment we pulled into the driveway. Greeted by an old barking dog, the smell of cattle in the fields and an occasional duck calling out in the distance, it was a reminder of the freedom the farm provided. We would run through the fields, swim down at the creek, and explore the barn filled with swallows, there seemed to be a new adventure around every corner.
As I grew older, I would spend my summers bucking hay for my grandfather. My cousin would join me from California and the little money I earned was enough to enjoy a careless reprieve from the pressures of adolescence.
I felt like a part of me was lost the day my grandparents sold that farm. I can still see them standing around the stove, smoking their cigarettes and preparing for the day. There was often fresh cow’s milk in the fridge, deer meat in the freezer, and discussions hinged on which field to harvest or how to handle some feral cats under the porch. It was all so different than what I was used to back home….I still miss it today.
As the round barn was a sign of good things to come, the Lord places signs along our path as He leads.
To know we are on the right path, the Lord brings indications that He is leading the way. He certainly doesn’t want us to deviate from the journey and yet He doesn’t promise it will be easy either. To know we are on His path and not on our own, all we have to do is look.
Psalm 25:4-5 “Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.”
The first indicator of God’s journey is knowing Truth. The only way to come to this knowledge is to have an encounter with Jesus. Jesus not only is the revealer of truth, He embodies the very definition of truth itself. Humbly accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior opens the door to the filling of the Spirit. As you walk in the Spirit, you are taught knowledge from His Word. Patiently receiving this knowledge as it is given indicates a growing heart of wisdom.
We have a tendency to receive part of the goodness of God and then immediately seek out the next. It’s part of our nature to engorge ourselves on something we enjoy while the determination to speed up the process takes us from seeking the provider to seeking the gifts of the provider. It sounds ugly but what we end up doing is practicing idolatry when our focus is on gaining blessing instead of growing in grace.
Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name.”
The path that leads to God is one of Righteousness.
The righteous are those who have been made clean by the blood of the lamb. The righteous walk in purity.
How do I know If I deviate on the journey?
If I violate God’s righteous law, I break through the barrier of protection and freedom and place myself in a position of danger. The deviancy is clear to fellow pilgrims in the way. Those who love you will bring correction through the Word of God. Prayer and supplication is given to those who are still too stubborn to listen to the watchmen on the wall. The call might go out to return but some people just have to learn the hard way.
Learning the hard way was a moniker I shamefully wore for a long time. I prayed for wisdom but heeding it’s call was another matter. The shame that accompanies foolishness takes a while to recede. The regret rarely dissipates even though it may be in the distant past, the desire to have never made them carries on.
If you can avoid going through with an enticement that you know will bring much heartache, I encourage you to do all you can to steer away. Learn to walk faithfully with the Lord, entrust yourself to brothers and sisters in Christ who love you, and take the necessary steps required to put the evil behind you.
Just remember, it’s not just you that is being harmed by sin, there are others watching you. Kids or those who might look up to you can be deeply affected by lapses in judgement. Remember, the way of righteousness is always better than the sin.
Psalm 31:1 “In You, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; save me by Your righteousness.”
The enemy of your soul seeks out your destruction. Once you are saved, you are filled with the Spirit and the enemy has lost the battle for your soul. The enemies tactics change from taking your life, to invalidating your life. The attempt to rob you of joy or remind you of failure is a ploy to inhibit your perspective of who you are in Christ.
The christian that thinks they are worthless, lives like they are worthless. The only way to confront these lies is to cast them away with the Truth.
Our failures can be our greatest testimony when the world sees the one they had left for dead now made alive in Christ Jesus. You never know who will hear the story of all that you have endured and then witness the freedom you have now. Your testimony can be a powerful reminder to those who have simply given up.
1 John 5:9-10 “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.”
Rounding the Corner
Traveling this journey, the days may appear long and the road endless….but it is not. With each corner travailed, we hope to see the house that is waiting at the end. It’s there, it is waiting, and when the time is complete you’ll look back and think…why did I fret?
Life is short. The path we follow can be one of victory. The difficulty only leads to greater anticipation of things to come and yet there is joy along the way.
Remember, all those who have gone before us. Do you know what they are doing now? They are rejoicing in the presence of the Lord! Their journey probably seemed long at the time. There were many who suffered terribly for their faith and yet for them now, it is all a memory that proved very limited in scope. Eternity dwarfs our lifespan to an infinitesimal blip on the spectrum of our existence.
Life happens quickly….then it is over. Waiting for us are the saints of old and standing in the center will be your Savior. We will be united with them, rejoicing so stand firm, keep your eyes and your mind on that which is to come and before you know it, your time will come as well.
Until then…rejoice in the Lord.