Most of us, at one time or another, have experienced a guided tour. The assumption from the very beginning is that the guide knows the way. Why? Because he’s been this way before. He isn’t going to take you somewhere he hasn’t already been. Most people don’t head out on a guided tour in a state of fear and anxiety about whether they will return safely. Most of us have no trouble trusting our guide to lead us through a safe, enjoyable experience. The truth is, though, depending on what kind of tour you take, there may be many potentially dangerous situations that could occur. They don’t occur because the guide knows what they are and he avoids them.
In those situations we actually put a sort of blind trust in a perfect stranger. How do we know for sure that this smiling, cheerful guide is qualified to lead us anywhere at all? Actually, the “blind” aspect is the key. If we were aware of all the potential dangers, would we be as trusting?
I don’t do well with heights. I have an inner ear disorder that causes me to become dizzy on a two-step ladder. Imagine that I am being led across a narrow walkway. If my eyes are closed it wouldn’t matter if it were a walkway through a beautiful garden or a narrow path with thousand feet cliffs on both sides. If I trusted my guide enough to close my eyes, he could lead me anywhere safely.
There are many times in life where it would be foolish to “blindly follow” someone else’s guidance. But with God it’s different. At times, He asks us to follow Him without letting us know where we are going. Without telling us anything about any of the dangers we might encounter. He just says, “Follow me.”
At that point we have two options. We can balk and ask a million questions to try and decide if we should go OR we can take a deep breath, put our hand in His and take the first step knowing that the Creator of the Universe knows the way.
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”” – John 8:12
Have you ever been involved in a large event and things seem to be out of control? One of the first things you might hear from a frustrated participant is, “Who’s in charge?”
Why would it matter who’s in charge? Because it is assumed, or at least hoped, that the person in charge can fix the mess. Solve the problem. Straighten out the chaos.
And what happens when someone who is not in charge tries to step in and take over, thinking they can fix things? They have no idea what planning occurred or what foresight was used to make the decisions that were a part of the planning. They can’t know all the goals or the reasons certain actions were chosen and others rejected. With them taking charge, things can go from bad to worse very quickly.
And yet, we do this with our lives. We are the ones who step in and assume that when things are going a little different than we expected, or when things are flat-out a total mess, we have all the answers.
God says in His word that man makes the plans but God directs his steps. God is the one in charge. He is the one we should go to when things aren’t going well. It’s a mistake to step in and try to take things into our own hands. That goes for our own lives as well as other people’s lives. God’s in charge in both places. No matter how it looks.
“Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21 (CSB)
“For the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations.” – Psalm 22:28 (CSB)
The seas of life may be crashing all around you. You may be at the end of your strength to handle the many difficult circumstances that 2020 has thrown at you. Some of those issues may seem like they will never be resolved in your lifetime.
That could be how the disciples felt in the boat with Jesus in the middle of the stormy Sea of Galilee. They saw the Lord asleep and felt that all was lost and He didn’t seem to care. But what they didn’t know was that Jesus already had the peace that passes understanding. He knew that no circumstance would threaten His mission. He knew the power that moved within Him. The disciples were still learning.
We are also still learning. We may respond with fear and worry when we see the challenges that this life brings. But we need to remember that the Lord knows our weaknesses, and He is waiting for us to ask Him for His peace. He promised to give it to us. It’s a gift to help us endure this world’s troubles.
When the storm came up suddenly, the disciples became afraid because they didn’t yet understand that, by being in the boat with Jesus, they were in their lifeboat. He had come to rescue them and would not let them perish.
He came for you as well. He waits in the boat, your lifeboat, to take you safely through the storms raging around you. Curl up in the boat beside Him and rest in His peace.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” – John 14:27 (CSB)
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (CSB)
So you’ve prayed. You’ve believed God would answer. But now the time for the needed answer has passed. Didn’t God hear you? Did He say no and you missed it?
Perhaps you expected God’s answer to go one way and now the opposite thing has happened. The thing you most dreaded has actually taken place. It’s unbelievable. How could God so totally miss what you needed?
So here’s my question.
Is today His only day to work?
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” – Habakkuk 2:3
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21
We are all familiar with name droppers. The official dictionary definition of name-dropping is “the studied but seemingly casual mention of prominent persons as associates done to impress others.”
What if I told you that I once ate a meal at a fast food restaurant with Joyce Meyer? It’s true. It was in her early days of ministry and she was leading a woman’s retreat at my church. She was actually in my driveway as I happened to be riding to the event with the leader of our women’s group and Joyce’s van was to follow us. I also once sat next to the late D. James Kennedy at a banquet. He was a very interesting man to talk with. I enjoyed the evening immensely.
That’s name dropping. It sounds like I know both of those people. But if I were to meet Joyce Meyer today would she remember me? Highly unlikely. And I’m sure that Dr. Kennedy wouldn’t have remembered spending an evening chatting with me either. Those experiences were just brief encounters that I remember because they are well known people.
All of this leads to the obvious question, “So what?” So what if I met either of those people? Does a simple introduction and conversation amount to a relationship? Not at all. I couldn’t take someone to meet Joyce Meyer and introduce her as my friend.
What if you truly were friends with a very important person? What if you really did have a relationship with a president, or a king or even a movie star? Wouldn’t it be amazing to tell all your friends? But what would it get you?
You have an even more amazing relationship. You are on a first name basis with the Creator of the Universe. He’s not just an acquaintance, He knows you by name. He gives you His full attention when He knows you want to speak to Him. He’s interested in your problems, your fears, and your dreams. What more could you ask?
Be a name dropper! But not for the purpose of impressing others. Do it as a way to draw others into a relationship with the best friend they will ever have. Speak His name often. Tell everyone that you know Him and then… offer to introduce them.
“There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.” – Jeremiah 10:6.
Have you ever been in a corn maze? In every direction, all you can see are walls. Walls of corn taller than you are. You move through the paths finding dead end after dead end. Each time you must retrace your steps, you wonder if the next choice will be the right one. It’s easy to get turned around and find yourself in the same dead ends over and over again. In a complex maze, it could be possible to wander for so long that anxiety increases to the point of panic.
Our lives are like that maze. We can only see the path we’re on and we can only make one decision at a time. We cannot always see whether we’re making any progress at all. We just keep moving, hoping we will eventually come out at the right place.
What we don’t want to do is let anxiety or panic take over. What must we do to prevent this? We must make the decision to trust God no matter how tall the walls or how complicated the path. No matter how confused we feel as we wander from dead end to dead end, we need to keep moving.
You see, God is the designer of the maze. He knows exactly which path we must take to get to the exit. If we could rise above the walls and see it from His perspective, we would not be concerned about making it out. We would be confident in each turn because we could look ahead and see the dead ends so that we could avoid them.
But we can’t see our lives from an external perspective. We can only rely on God for guidance. We can also rest in the knowledge that even when we make a wrong turn, we don’t get lost forever. We can always turn around and try again. That’s God’s grace at work. He will patiently lead us along the path and will bring us out of this maze called life when we have completed all he has designed us to do. Each path teaches us something, even the dead ends.
Keep moving and trust God to guide you. Listen to the quiet voice of the Lord, leading you to Himself one step at a time. You really are getting closer every day even though you can’t always see it.
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21 (NASB)
Sometimes I look at times gone by and wonder what it would have been like to live in a different era. I especially love the Victorian age. I love the slower pace of life and the way people paid attention to details. Things weren’t so hurried and people took time to enjoy the simple things of life. I love the stories of quilting bees and church picnics; of sitting on the porch on a summer evening. I could really get wistful about it.
But it wasn’t up to me to choose when I would be born or where. God did the choosing. He decided exactly when I would be the most useful to his kingdom. He decided where I would be most effective for His purposes.
It’s like God had a huge map and timeline, stretched it out before Him and planned in great detail the way it would be. Of course He didn’t do it that way. He didn’t labor over it like we would. It wasn’t like us trying to arrange the furniture in a room: “If this goes here then that could go over there.” His plan was perfect from the beginning.
Psalm 139.16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God knew where my life was headed before I was even born.
I Corinthians 12:18 says, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”He knew exactly where I fit.
God has designed each of us to be right here, right now. He looked over the entire timeline of humanity and the giant globe he created and he pinned an exact spot and time for you! This is the appointed time. Now is the time to look around you and see where you can make a difference. You were meant to be right where you are. There are things you can do that bring glory to God and advance his kingdom.
Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still call ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Perhaps today there is someone whose encounter with you was ordained from the beginning of time. Maybe today is a day that you, by your obedience to live your life to the fullest for Christ, will help change a life for eternity. This is when we can say, “Seize the day!”
Most of my boys’ first jobs were in food service or customer service of some sort. They regularly came home with stories about the rudeness and demanding nature of some customers. There are so many people these days who think the world owes them something… maybe everything.
Are Christians any different than the unbelievers when it comes to treating other people kindly, particularly those who are serving them? Sadly, my boys say no. In fact, sometimes the Christian customers are the worst when it comes to impatience and rudeness.
Lately it seems that judgment with regard to the “big” sins is being freely expressed. Louder every day. You know, things like racism, stealing, murder, sexual sin. Christians have become very outspoken about that sort of behavior. But have we forgotten that God sees no “degree” of sin?
So when we are impatient or rude to someone who is serving us, how does God view our behavior? And, how are we reflecting Him to the world who desperately needs Him?
Can’t we stop being so self-absorbed and focused on our own needs or preferences and just be kind? We might be the blessing someone desperately needs. The fact is, if all of us decided to follow the golden rule, treating others as we would like to be treated, at exactly the same moment, all the strife in the world would cease instantly. If we all decided to love God and love others, we would be tripping over each other trying to be kind. Imagine that.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4
It’s hard to wait. Waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting on hold with someone else’s choice of music playing in your ear. We find ourselves impatient and frustrated because we want to see progress. We want answers, we want resolution so we can move on.
Our society doesn’t wait well. And in these recent months, that has become even more evident. Everyone, it seems, has no time to wait. We have too much else to do. Places to go, people to see, work to be done.
But there is a lesson to be learned in the waiting. God uses waiting to teach us to depend on Him and not ourselves. To trust His timing and not our own. He is never bound by the clock or the calendar. His timing has eternity in mind where today and tomorrow have little meaning.
Sometimes the things we have been asking the Lord to do in our lives are things we must wait for. You’ve heard the saying that God’s answer is either yes, no or wait.
Trust is like a muscle. It gets stronger when we use it. God uses waiting to strength our trust muscle. In the waiting, we are becoming more like Jesus.
It’s hard, but there is no other way.
“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
In the Shinto religion of Japan, they have what they call a “god shelf.” It’s a shrine where they place offerings to their god. This is not what I am suggesting.
My God-shelf is not a tangible shelf at all. What it is, is a symbolic way to surrender our burdens to God.
Imagine installing a simple shelf in your home that is nearly out of reach when you raise your hand as high as you can. You can reach this shelf only by stretching just a little. Now imagine that you have been carrying your troubles and worries around with you as you move about your home.
What I am suggesting is that you mentally design and install a God-shelf as a place to deposit all these issues. You walk by your shelf and reach up and place your worries on that shelf for God to deal with, out of sight and slightly out of reach so you can’t easily take them back.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to leave all your cares on your God-shelf where He is able to deal with everything and you can trust that He will? As you walk by, you simply reach up and say, “Lord, here is my marriage, I trust You to heal it.” Or, “Lord, here is my wayward child, I trust him into Your hands.” Or perhaps, “Lord, here is this difficult diagnosis, I give it to You and ask You to take care of it.”
In every home I’ve every lived, there has always been a small cabinet over the refrigerator. The things I store in that cabinet are usually things I don’t use often. Because they are out of sight, I often forget what I have put there. I think this is what God truly wants us to do with the things we put on our God-shelf. Just put it up there, and then allow God to replace your worries with His peace.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” – Psalm 55:22 (ESV)