God’s Way or the Highway

Narrow PathWhen my husband and I take a road trip by ourselves we like to take the back roads, avoiding the interstates as much as possible. We meander through the countryside and are in no hurry to arrive at our destination. We enjoy the interesting scenery that isn’t visible from the freeway.

When we go to visit our grandchildren it’s a different story. We have no time for meandering, we have an agenda.  We are interested in only one thing and that’s seeing those adorable little faces that greet us after a full day of driving. We get there as quickly as we can, stopping only when absolutely necessary and then it’s a quick, no nonsense stop and back in the car again.

Why do most people choose the interstates to get around? It’s because we have an agenda and we need to get there in a hurry. No time for delays of any kind. We hop on and set the cruise control and zoom along. Sometimes when we go through large cities there can be eight or more lanes of traffic in each direction.  Everyone  is on autopilot, getting in the zone and flowing mindlessly with the traffic.

Have you ever taken a narrow, winding mountain road? There’s no zoning out or cruise control on this trip! You have to focus on the road as well as keep a close watch on the steep drop off on the side of the pavement. There isn’t much room to maneuver and little margin for error. But there are times when the road evens out and the scenery is breath taking. And the little towns that come along every once in a while are often worth a stop to explore for a little while.

Matthew speaks of another narrow road.

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

The freeway is plenty wide and you have lots of company. The narrow way can be lonely and difficult at times. But how much you miss if you take the freeway with everyone else  All of them locked in with their cruise control and moving along without any concern for their surroundings.

The narrow road is more difficult to manage, it has ups and downs, it has tight, blind curves that make you slow down. But if you manage to stay on the road, you will have a much richer experience.

And isn’t it that way with life? God’s road may be narrow, and the gate a tight fit but the things He will show you will leave you speechless. And the people you’ll meet will change you forever. So slow down and take the byway instead of the highway. The scenery is worth it and the destination is beyond imagination.

When is Heaven not Heaven?

We all long for Heaven. Scripture paints a picture of Heaven that makes us yearn for the day when we will be there. We picture the conditions described in Revelation. In Heaven there will be no more pain or tears or death. There will be joy unending. We see it as a place so different than what we experience in our earthly lives that we hope for the day when we will be there. We talk about the streets of gold and a sea of crystal. Living there will be paradise. Or will it?

Is that place we read about, the perfect place? If we were promised a home in such a place would we truly be happy forever? Only with one condition. No matter how beautiful Heaven is, no matter what amazing things we have been promised, it will only be Heaven….if God is there. He is the reason Heaven will be so wonderful. If God designed Heaven to be the amazing place He promises in scripture and if he allowed us to enter the gates we would still not be happy there if God was not there.

In Psalm 73:25 the psalmist says “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.” There is nothing in Heaven that will satisfy except the Father Himself. The rest is just decoration. Nothing we desire on earth or in Heaven compares to being in the presence of the Lord.

In the 26th verse of Psalm 73, he continues the thought. “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

What does it mean for God to be our portion? A portion is the part set aside for each of us. Your portion is God.  All of Him. What more can you want? Nothing else will satisfy like the Lord Himself.

And when our flesh fails us and when our heart grows faint, He is the strength of our heart. He gives us strength in times of weakness. He is all we need in every circumstance.

He is all we will ever need, on earth or in Heaven.

Daddy, Can You Hear Me?

Man and DaughterThe little girl looks up at her father and speaks in her soft little voice. Her father leans down, putting his ear closer to her in order to hear her clearly. He wants to hear every word she has to say because he loves her.

That picture is what we need to see when we wonder if God is hearing our prayers. He is that father, who leans down, bending over and turning his face toward us, intent on hearing every cry of our heart…because He loves us.

Psalm 116: 1-2 I love the Lord, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live. (NASB)

 I love the Lord because he hears my voice  and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! (NLT)

As a child, it is very important to know that someone is listening, that someone cares about what you have to say. As God’s children, we have the assurance that He is listening to us. What we say to Him is important to Him. And because we know He hears us, we love Him all the more.

Our God is a good and loving father!

 

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points

spiral-1_21168872Do you remember geometry class? The shortest distance between two points is…a straight line, right? In a basic sort of way, that’s the correct answer. There are situations that are the exception but they can  get complicated and we could examine them for a long time.

For the sake of discussion, let’s consider the answer to be a straight line.

So let’s talk about obedience for a moment. If God speaks to you and you know that there is something you are supposed to do, or not do, what do you do? Do you respond instantly and agree to follow God’s direction and obey Him or do you stall and make excuses about why you can’t do what the Lord has asked?

I can tell you what I have found myself doing at times. If you’ve seen the movie The Wizard of Oz, you will remember the scene where Dorothy is in Munchkin Land and is beginning her walk down the yellow brick road. She starts at the center and makes a spiral round and round until she’s finally on the straight road to Oz.  Consider for a moment the reverse of that walk, with the goal at the center. What I’ve found myself doing is to start from where I stand, seeing the place God has directed me at a distance in front of me and instead of making the decision to move directly toward the goal, I walk around and around it. Looking at it from all sides, I consider it and gradually move closer to the goal but in a slow spiral. I know I’ll eventually make my way to the center and obey God but I take my time getting there.

But is that obedience? Not really. Delayed obedience really isn’t obedience at all. As a parent, I expect my children to obey my directives without procrastinating. I believe it’s a sign of respect. Doesn’t God deserve that respect from us in every situation? Doesn’t He deserve immediate obedience in all things?

So back to our geometry lesson. The shortest distance between two points? The place where I am and the place God has directed me to go? A straight line.

Obedience is always a straight line.

Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so  the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the  essential characteristic of our lives.” ~ Andrew Murray

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.  John 14:15