Monday, December 30, 2019

God Gets Us Moving So He Can Direct Our Path

It’s not about me figuring out where God wants me to go and do on my own. It’s about me listening to the Lord and not trying to solve it like it was some academic exercise, but hearing the still small voice.  Lord, I want to hear your voice and follow you.

Having made our first trip to Haiti, I wish I could say I knew where the Lord was leading us, but I didn’t. I had a strong suspicion that Haiti was part of our future somehow. It would be nice if the Lord would load our next destination into “My Favorite Places” in our GPS and then I could just select it and follow the route to our next place of service. That is probably not going to happen. (you think?) Instead, He wanted us to do what we have done in the past. Place our faith in the One who calls and look for the signs along the way. 

The route may seem treacherous, but God is with us. He is in the boat sleeping while we are in the same boat worrying. And He asks ‘Why are you worrying.’ He is on the water, walking confidently, while we are struggling to keep our head above water. We are concerned about the waves around us and wondering what in the world we are doing outside of the safety of the boat. And He asks us, “Why did you doubt?” Lord we believe, but help us with our unbelief.

So, our first trip to Haiti was a stepping stone on the path the Lord had set our feet upon. I had gone to Haiti ahead of Martie to scout out the land and was hoping for an epiphany, something I could tell Martie ― OK, this is it. But I still saw men as trees walking. I knew my vision would clear in time and we would be in the place the Lord had intended. In the meantime, we must walk in what we knew and would trust the Lord in what we didn’t know.

A friend of ours told me the other day, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” I know that sounds like one of those “Duh!” statements.  But it is actually pro-found in its simplicity.  Accepting and acting when we don’t know is what faith and obedience in the absence of knowing are all about.  Oh, we want to know!  Consider Moses.  (Exodus 2 and 3) God spared Moses as a baby.  God placed him in Pharaoh’s court.  Moses fled Egypt and became a shepherd.  Moses was called by God to return to Egypt through the burning bush.  Moses went to Egypt and led the nation of Israel out of Egypt.

You may have difficulty comparing yourself to Moses.  Don’t compare yourself to him.  God has a plan and purpose for each of us.  Some people get stuck in their journey because they choose to go no further.  The Apostle Paul wrote,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2

Your journey may never take you beyond the confines of the neighborhood you live in.  Your journey may be as simple as personally being transformed, sanctified, made to look like Jesus. Right where you are.  There is a saying in Haiti, “ti pa, ti pa” [tea-pah, tea-pah] or “step by step.” That is what being on the move for God looks like.  Perhaps you can identify with John Newton who wrote the song, Amazing Grace.

I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.” ― John Newton

How has the Lord has intervened and redirected your life? Consider your life as part of God’s plan and purpose, not merely has a series of loosely connected events. Or, perhaps when God said “Go”, you said “No.” Do you think that Moses could have said “no” to God’s direction?   Of course, but he did.

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.” – Numbers 20:7-11

Such a simple thing.  What difference did it make if Moses spoke to the rock or hit it with the rod that God had given him. Moses did it his way because, for what ever reason he did not trust that speaking would be enough – even if that is what God said to do. What was the consequence of Moses disobedience? (Read Numbers 20:12) Why was God so harsh with Moses? 

What if you have said “No” to God or I will do it my own way?  Have you missed your chance?

Most often when we think about God calling us, we think about God taking or sending us somewhere. Changing direction might mean your heart or your thinking, not just your doing or where you live.  

I still remember the valedictorian at our high school graduation opening her speech with 1 Corinthians 13:11. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  She was referring to the transition that we all were making to being on our own. But it is also a picture of Christians as they mature and God leads them to a new place of understanding and being.  As a Christian that won’t happen except by faith and a willing heart.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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