The way of the Christian is the way of the tortoise, not the hare. In a world that moves at the speed of thought, it is easy to get caught up in the rat race of ministry and the Christian life. However, speed is not the imperative in this way – direction is. And many people are rushing to nowhere.
I like what A.W. Tozer said:
Scriptures exhort the runner to patience and say nothing about speed. The LORD would seem to be more concerned with where we are going rather than how fast. A steady pace in the right direction will lead to the right goal at last, but if the life is aimed at the wrong goal, speed will only take us further astray in a shorter time.
You may have the fastest rocket, but if you are a few degrees off, you will miss the moon. This scenario played out in real life in 1979. A large plane carrying 257 people left New Zealand for a sightseeing tour of Antarctica. Unknown to the pilots, the coordinates were changed by a mere two degrees. This small error put the plane 28 miles from their original destination. As they approached Antarctica, the pilots lowered the altitude so the passengers could get a good look at the landscape. What they did not know was that the error had put them in the path of Mount Erebus. The plane crashed into the side of the volcano killing everyone on board.
We must constantly review our path to be sure that we are on course with our final destination. Tozer also said, “If we should seem at times to be a bit slow, let it be remembered that we do know the direction we are called to go.”Stay the course. Do not turn to the right or the left.
I would hate to rush forward only to find out in the end that I was the first one to nowhere.
Well…you can run but you can’t hide. Just ask Jonah.
The will of God can be frightening at times. We wonder how we will get from where we are to where God wants us to be. We question our ability to fight the battles that will be required. We question our desire to make the sacrifices that will be required. And we struggle with the command to take up our cross.
Here is a great example; the small remnant of Israelites that were left in the promised land after Babylon’s conquest (Jer. 42). The people asked the prophet, Jeremiah, to pray and find God’s will. After ten days, the prophet returns with God’s answer.
“If you stay here (in the promised land and under the rule of the Babylonians) I will build you and not pull you down. I will plant you and not pluck you up.”
“If you decide to go to Egypt because you think that there you will be safe from war or famine, then you will find in Egypt the sword and the famine which you were afraid of and there you will die.”
In other words, your greatest fears will be realized in the place you run to escape the will of God.
You can run, but you can’t hide.
God is calling an army of people to dig their heels into the land of promise, the inheritance that He has given us, this wonderful Truth. There is a battle to be fought, sacrifices to be made, and a cross to bear. If we stay, He will build and plant us. If we run, we run from the place of safety and into our greatest fears.
One of the first feelings that I had while hiking the Appalachian Trail was a feeling of frustration. Seriously, it only took about fifteen minutes for me to really start to feel frustrated. I’m thinking, “I’m on vacation! I’m supposed to be relaxing and enjoying myself!” But I was frustrated.
I was frustrated because I wanted to see where the trail was leading. I wanted to look at the beautiful scenery all around me. The problem was that every time I took my focus off of my next few steps to look around, I would step on a rock and twist my ankle or I would trip on a root that was reaching up from the ground to grab me and make me fall.
Isn’t that just the way life is sometimes? We get so focused on what’s going on around us or we want to get our eyes on the end of the journey and we totally lose focus on the next step…and we fall. If you are anything like me, you want to know where life is taking you; you want to know the end before you take the first step. However, God rarely spoils a good ending by giving us all of the details. And He often asks us to go without knowing where we are going (just like Abraham).
Sometimes generals will issue marching orders that are not to be read until the army or the individuals have reached a certain location. These are known as closed orders. The one receiving the orders does not know what the orders are when they set out for their mission. They must go in faith and in courage, knowing that the one who sent them chose them for this mission because they were likely to succeed.
Nick Sisco (Missionary to Ghana, Teacher & Mentor extraordinaire) once told me that when we are called by God, He puts before us a blank contract and says, “Sign here.” But we want to know the details of the contract, “What am I agreeing to, Lord? Where are you sending me? How much am I going to have to sacrifice? How hard will it be?” But, of course, that’s not the deal, “Just sign here.”
His word is a lamp unto your feet and light unto your path. He may not show you the end, but rest assured if you are following Him, He will always show you the next step.
I am thankful for the sermon that my pastor preached yesterday. He spoke concerning the important discipline of listening to God for direction for decisions. This is certainly a discipline that we struggle with today. We live in a world full of noise and interruptions. We have Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Television, iPods, iPads, Magazines, Satellite Radio, and a whole host of other convenient distractions. And many times, all of these distractions are bundled up in one device that we can easily carry with us in our pocket.
Many of us need to realize the addiction we have to noise. We even have websites and widgets for white noise to help us concentrate because we can no longer function in the silence. Example: When is the last time you prayed without background music? (Preaching to myself) Is is possible that the convenience of sound has contributed to the spiritual shallowness that many contemporary western Christians share?
We need to revive the dying art of getting away from the noise and shutting the world off. However, I was struck by a truth yesterday that found its mark in my life, directly between my eyes. That truth is this; it is not enough to get away from the noise of this world because, more often than not, the loudest noise keeping me from hearing the voice of God is the sound of my own voice!
I realized today that there are some prayers that I need to stop praying. I have been praying some prayers that were interrupting the voice of God in my life. He has been trying to give me the answer while I have been trying to give Him suggestions of answers that I would like.
It is so easy for our prayers to become consumed by our opinions and the opinions of others. We think we know best. We pray for God to answer the way we think He should. All the while, His voice is trying to break through our noise and give us His answer.
Ssh, quiet! Do you hear that? It sounds like your answer.