WOULD YOU SAY THE LORD KNOWS THE WAY THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN THIS FAR?
- The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God ( C. S. Lewis)
- Christianity without the living Christ is a car without fuel, a laptop computer without batteries, an airplane without wings (Jim Denison)
- There are a lot of people in the media and politics who literally make their living these days by provoking FEAR in people (Andrew Strom).
- As I look back over fifty years of ministry, I recall innumerable tests, trails and times of crushing pain. But through it all, the Lord has proven faithful, loving, and totally true to His promises (David Wilkerson).
- Your ministry will never be bigger than your vision of Jesus (Patty Hammond).
- Our principal malady is our pride which cuts us off from God (Blaise Pascal)
- Discouragement is the anesthetic the devil uses on a person just before he reaches in and carves out his heart (Howard Hendricks)
Text: Psalm37:23The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delights in his way.
Talk of a wilderness experience, and that describes my journey this far. The Lord has inspired His word in my heart and somehow, time and seasons have come and gone. Today, with my mind deeply preoccupied with mortality, memory, legacy, meaning of life and change, got me thinking about a question we would often discuss with a ‘Tukutendreza – the East African Revival Fellowship-friend – ‘Is the journey still on’? The journey is destined to lead to where Christ is as He told his disciples. “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’ (John 14:3). In the meantime the poet T. S. Eliot described the Christian journey of faith as a continual and ongoing search: “We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time.” It is important to remind ourselves where the journey started and the indicators that one is still on the journey.
THE STARTING POINT MATTERS
Paul, writing to the Galatians, is at pains on realizing that they had moved from the belief that Christ’s coming, life, death and resurrection had met God’s requirement in relation to eternity with Him. The Galatians heard another group explain why they needed to go through the requirements of the law. The starting point is the formation of Christ in the heart and mind of the believer (Galatians 4:19). That means in the faith journey, it is possible to begin by total trust in the saving grace of the Lord, then in a subtle way, human ingenuity and effort seem attractive and necessary ingredients in the journey. That is why it is important to keep examining whether the journey is still on. For the traveler determined to be where Christ is, the journey of faith has to be one of reduction. Brush off all excesses and distractions that are obscuring the journey. Examine whether the systems in which you work are distracting your journey. For example, Jesus categorically taught his disciples, ‘And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah’ (Matthew 23:9-10). In the increasing distress of so much one has no control over, and the inevitable separation and uniqueness of each individual’s journey, it is important to fine tune what the journey was about. Jesus' call is simple and it has not changed, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you . . .’ (Matthew 4: 19).
CHRIST CONNECTS DOTS IN THE BIG PICTURE
The blueprint of life is with the Living God whose presence has been acknowledged all through generations. ‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse’ (Romans 1: 20). Satan is the evil force that usurps and distracts human beings from God’s purpose. As Paul explained to the Athenians (Acts 17), Jesus Christ is God’s appointed redeemer for human beings. That is why God’s great plan included the necessity for a Savior whose coming was described as ‘good news of great joy that will be for all the people’ (Luke 2:10). Please note, ‘all people’ include your and me. The presence of the Holy Spirit activated that which was designed by God so that ‘Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). Some distractions to God’s design include human nature to want to be better than the other rather than be a friend who works alongside each other. In the very beginning, Cain had trouble that his sacrifice was not like that of his brother Abel. Competition, comparison, and rating others all create insecurity which leads to self- promotion, and are indicators that one could be on different journey and not on Christ’s journey. Jesus' command is that those who are His disciples love one another as He had done. It is to be lost to be thanking God at the end of the year because of increase and expansion that sets you aside from others who long for Christ’s coming. Would the Holy Spirit say you are committed to Christianity or to Christ?
FEAR AND JOY ARE INDICATORS OF BEING ON THE WAY
When the divine interacts with the earthly, there is fear. It is the voice of God’s messenger that recognizes the fear in Zachariah, Mary, or the shepherds of the Christmas story. Once the people act in obedience, there follows great joy. That joy is not just seasonal, but transforms people’s outlook on life. On the other hand there is wrong fear that dominates and dictates human relationships, extracting all joy out of the people, using threats, manipulations and all kinds of evil. People will carry bibles for others so as to get some kind of blessing. Any fear that leads people to operate for identity is not from the Lord and is a sure sign that one has lost the way. ‘Churches are filled with good people who fear ever disclosing their true beliefs on certain matters of faith for fear of being expelled or sidelined. Leaders fail to make bold and necessary decisions for fear of offending people’ (Rich Little). A culture of fear is absolutely contrary to the Kingdom of God.
As the Lord gives us the privilege of the memory of another year, may we remind ourselves where the journey started, in the Lord. When the journey starts in the Lord, then the destination is known by God and that is what makes life meaningful. When Job found himself in a totally different future than what he would have anticipated, he assured himself, ‘God knows the way that I take . . . ‘(Job 23:10). Those who remain focused on the path that Christ provides know joy irrespective of age or circumstances. Anna was a widow for most of her life and yet at 84 she was an effective witness of God’s goodness (Luke 2: 36-38). Jesus Christ, who came as Emmanuel – God with us, was not only God with us when he was on earth, He is God with us even today and has promised to be with us always. The kingdom Jesus Christ has given to those who are on his journey has all equally valued, loved, included and all are expected to be busy in his vineyard. Nothing is as fulfilling as the knowledge that ‘For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous’ Psalm 1:6). Do not compare, do not compete, but let your goal be to listen carefully whatever he tells you to do. Are you living with the awareness that the journey is still on? Would you say that your joy is still in following the footsteps of Jesus Christ who is the Way?
“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading” (Oswald Chamber)