This Is The Way

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A few years ago I needed to drive from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to pick up my husband at the airport. I also had to pick up my son from work on the way. Both required me to drive on I-20 East. I headed to my normal exit – blocked. What? I went to the next exit – blocked. Okay. Drove to a third exit – blocked again. My GPS was stubbornly trying to get me back to the blocked exits and I could not convince her to find another route. We’d only lived there a year and I rarely drove far from home, so I had no idea where another exit was. At this point, a touch of panic began to set in and without thinking I muttered “O Lord, what am I gonna do?” Then I realized what I had said and turned my lament into a prayer: “Lord, what do I need to do here?” The GPS suddenly told me to turn right and I noticed that the road I was on was running parallel to I-20 and in just a few miles I came to another exit – just past the big wreck that had closed the interstate. I breathed a prayer of thanks as I got onto the open exit and headed in the right direction.

I immediately thought about Isaiah 30:21 which says “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

We often get in a panic trying to determine God’s will because we think it’s up to us to find it. But that is the enemy trying to overwhelm and confuse you. God has a definite plan for your life. He does not expect you to blindly stumble along in the hopes that you’ll happen upon it by chance. He has the route mapped out and He will guide you each step of the way – but often only one step at a time, and not always the direct route you expect. If you’re wondering where you’re supposed to be, don’t panic, just ask the Lord, “What do I need to do here?” and follow exactly where he leads.

The Path of Life

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I’ve been a little overwhelmed and discouraged lately so I opened my Bible and searched for my “comfort verses,” you know, like comfort food (homemade creamed potatoes for me). I’ve got many verses marked that have spoken to my heart before and I was skimming through reading those verses. I came to Psalm 16, where David expresses his trust in God because of the Lord’s faithfulness in the past and his assurance of God’s grace in the days to come. Something stood out to me in these words that I’d never noticed before.

Verse 11 says, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with Joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” The word “path” lit up in my heart.  There are a lot of uncertain things in my life these days and I don’t know what God is up to. I had what I thought was a clear direction for my life and I was working toward that direction in graduate school. Then something – or someone – came into my life and all my well-made plans seemed to be thrown out the window. Has God changed His purpose for me? Am I supposed to be a student or a grandmother? Is there a different priority for my life? Am I called to ministry or is Joy my ministry? Where am I going, Lord?

I sensed the Spirit saying, “I gave you a path, not a destination – you just need to be faithful to what I put before you, and I will get you where I want you to go.” What’s before me is the opportunity to continue my education for free. What’s before me is a little girl with a love of music and books and an inexhaustible supply of energy.  I also sensed God saying, “It’s not an either-or; it’s both.”

I have a feeling that I am not the only one who wonders where life is going. Something or someone has come along and the way that once seemed certain is now shrouded in a thick fog. Beloved, be assured, God is in control of the destination. Your only concern is your feet. Walk the path He has put before you and He’ll get you where you’re supposed to be. And He’ll go with you every step of the way.

A Word for the Weary

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David and his men returned home to Ziklag after a three-day trek to find the Amalekites had raided the region, burned their homes, and took their families captive. They did what you and I would do: “David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep” (1 Sam 30:4). Ever been there? I know I have. But after the weeping, he did something else, “David found strength in the Lord his God” (v. 6).

This morning as I sat down to my prayer journal, I wrote my usual greeting: “Holy Father,” then I stared at the empty page.  Some mornings that about all I can muster – just to call His name.

Because I’m weary.

Because I’m overwhelmed.

Because I don’t know what to do.

Because I don’t see any way out of my circumstances.

Then I remembered David and I determined to follow his good example.

Because the Lord said, “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Because the Scripture says: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7).

Because He promised: “Whether you turn to the right or to the lift, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Is 30:21).

Because He acts on behalf of his people: “The Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and . . . the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground” (Ex. 14:21,22).

Just like David, I found strength in the Lord my God. His Word refreshed me and encouraged me. The Scriptures remind me of His unfailing, never-ending, always faithful love. His promises give me hope.

Beloved, what has you weary this morning? Grief? Despair? What is overwhelming you? Needs? People? Are you at a loss to know what to do? Do you feel like there’s no way out of your circumstances? There is strength and encouragement and peace in the Word of God. From Genesis to Revelation, you will find hope to refresh your soul and Joy to fill your heart. God has a Word for you today.

When All Is Lost

Hagar and Ishmael had been banished to the desert with just a skin of water and no direction. When the water ran out so did Hagar’s hope. She couldn’t bear to watch her son die, so she set him under a bush and walked away. As her tears fell, God sent an angel to comfort her and give her hope. And water. The Scripture says “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (Genesis 21:19). A well. In a desert. Just at the moment she needed it. Right where she stopped in her hopelessness.

There are volumes here we can learn from this account, and a good preacher could get a month’s worth of 3-point sermons out of this story. But here is my take-away: God brings hope into hopeless situations. He gives water in the desert, peace in the storm, direction in the wilderness, and light in the darkness. He is watching with tender care to meet you wherever your struggles take you. Whether you are in the desert or on a stormy sea – if your life is a train wreck or you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, God knows right where you are Beloved. He knows exactly what you need. He will meet you in the middle of your hopeless situation. Just when you think all is lost, God says you are found.

Pay Attention!

I was on my way to work this morning, just rolling with the traffic around me, and letting my mind wander a bit.  You know — going over the projects for the day, thinking about my child who needs some encouragement, what to make for supper, reminding myself to pay the utility bill, etc.  Suddenly, brakes lit up ahead of me as we spy the patrol car parked off the roadway. I notice that the whole pack of cars had been speeding, and I was right in there with them.  Thankfully the officer was after bigger fish than me, but I realized something in that moment.  I had been letting the rest of the cars set the speed for me – and in going along with the pack, I had broken the law.

The “road” of our life, like the physical highway can lull us into something of a daze.  It becomes so easy to go along with the crowd. But there is much danger when we do.  The crowd will almost always lead us away from God.

The Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah gives us some very wise advice.

“Set up road signs; put up guideposts.  Take note of the highway, the road you take.” (Jeremiah 31:21)  In short: Pay attention!  Notice everything around you, and everything in you, and the way you are going.   Far too often, the way we take is just where we drifted to.

Do you see the directive in this verse? The Hebrew for “set up” is to stand oneself before, to station, establish, to attend.   There is nothing casual here; this is a strong decisive word.  It is a deliberate and purposeful action.  The word “guideposts” is amazing as well-the root word means “column of smoke.”  Now if you know much about the Bible at all, you will remember that the Israelites were lead by God through the wilderness with a “pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night” (Exodus 13:21) God is still leading His people, He is still making Himself visible to us if only we will pay attention.

We are also directed to “take note of the highway, the road you take.”  The heart of this section is – well– the heart.  By looking at the terminology, Jeremiah is instructing us to set our hearts to follow the Lord along the right “road” – the road or highway being the conduct of our life.  This is an intentional decision to guard our hearts and minds and stay alert to both the leading of the Lord and any attempt by Satan and the world to draw us off course.  We will never follow God by accident. We will never stumble into a daily discipline of prayer and reading the Bible.  We will never just fall into obedience. We must determine to do so.

What is the benefit of all this determination and attentiveness?  “A highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk in that Way.” (Isaiah 35:8) Isaiah proclaims a “Way of Holiness” that will take us into God’s presence and light.  A highway that He has prepared for those who “walk in the Way.”

 The road we travel today will either lead us closer to God or farther away.  It’s your choice.  Will you pay attention to the direction you are traveling?

Almighty God, teach me to pay attention and to follow you with all my heart. Amen