If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Monday, March 28, 2011

the Path - Mile Markers

Do you spend a lot of time on your knees before God seeking His will for your life? Not that this is a bad thing at all. We should constantly be seeking His instruction. Sometimes we don't get it, though. Not that we don't get it, but that we don't get it.  "I want to get on that path You have laid for me," we implore, as if God is keeping the gate shut. "Show me the way. Just shine some light on the first step of the path and I will take it!"  We ask God for direction as if we are asking Him for directions.

So, what's the difference?

"Which way do I go? You just point the way , and I'll go on and go. And if I take a wrong turn or get lost along the way, after floundering around for a while I'll stop long enough to ask for more direction(s)."  But, that is not the way it works. God does have a plan for us. He has our whole lives planned out. Take a look at Psalm 139:16. (I've posted it several times. In fact it is in my " and you give yourself away" blog.)  And I have also posted several times how God's plans for us are to prosper us, not to harm us, to give us hope, and to give us a future. (That would be Jeremiah 29:11.)  God didn't just put all this into place and then go sit down. His eye constantly watches us and His hand is ever upon us. So, it stands to reason that we can't go through life just checking in with God from time to time, and that mostly when we are in trouble.

Maybe we have been looking for a plan or a path that is set out like we human beings might design it.  "Go here and do this, then go there and do that," and so on.  And really, aren't we looking for a career path or a business plan from God more than anything else anyway?

Now, His path for us does include situations that a teacher would be in, doing the work that they do, or maybe a fireman, a factory worker, a salesman, a clerical worker in a medical clinic, business owner, pastor or church staff member, store clerk, at home homemaker - that's what stay at home moms do - doctor or nurse, mechanic, financial adviser, musician, actor, seamstress, cook,   . . .    It takes all kinds of people being occupied in all kinds of work that God has made them for and given them to do to "make the world go around" and accomplish God's purpose.  This also goes for the retired and the disabled. There is no retirement from or disability to follow God's will. 

These are the physical places that we do God's spiritual work.  Some say that God is not really concerned with such things.  But, that contradicts what God Himself says about his concern for us. And if God has anything planned for us, then He must have everything planned. How else is He going to bring us to whatever that anything is without being involved in the everything that gets us there?  How could we fully surrender to a God who is not fully involved?  God is concerned with and involved in every aspect of your life. Don't take anything less from Him. He has it all for you!

OK, I took a little side trip there. Back to the path.    

God's path is a spiritual journey.  For us, it is experienced physically, but it is traveled spiritually.  God certainly has plans for us, and specifically created each one of us for His specific purposes.  All this was set in place before we were conceived, and talents, abilities, and proclivities were built in as He was putting us together in our mothers' wombs. The vessel is packed from birth.  But, I believe that the journey cannot begin until we make Jesus Lord of our lives.  Until we are saved, God is guiding us, from without, to salvation.  Then the Holy Spirit, now within us, is, as Jesus Himself put it, "our helper". (How 'bout that for use of the comma?)  God is now guiding us from within to Himself and all that He has for us and for us to do.  How can we know where God is leading without the Holy Spirit acting as our guide?  And then some, as I have already pointed out, have problems in following the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Too often, we get it backwards. We enter "real life" after high school or college and we are more attuned to pursuit of  things that please than things that matter, what we perceive as the good life rather than the God life. We take the lead in how we are going to provide for our physical needs when God has clearly told us to follow Him and let Him take care of that.  "Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you" plainly states that if we will follow God's plan for our lives and live within His way of doing things, the Kingdom of God, our physical needs will be met in a far greater fashion than we can ever provide for ourselves. ( I really wish I had caught on to that one 30 or 40 years ago. R-e-a-l-l-y!)  And without this reality at work in our lives, we struggle so much to make a living that we cannot make a life.

Here is the problem:  We have been looking for the physical part of the plan to take place before, or so that, the spiritual part can. But, that's backwards. You see, it's all spiritual!  Not in the sense that what we see and touch here in this life is not really seeable or touchable. It is all very "real" even if it is all very temporary.

I consider myself to be a spiritual person. I have a very long way to go, but I have come to a place in my life where my spiritual search supersedes my physical search. My physical life has been given too much power in my spiritual life. In other words, I have lived as if I can't "do this" spiritually because I "am here" physically.  As if the physical dominates the spiritual. This is not the way it is supposed to be. Ephesians 6:12 tells us "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

I am coming to an understanding that, for better or for worse, where we are spiritually dominates where we are physically. It is supposed to be better, but, with things in the wrong order, it can be worse.

And, for me, the reason I have not been able to clearly see God's path is not that the path is hidden, it is that the path set before me doesn't look at all like I think a path should look.

God truly does tell us where to go, which way to turn, when to stop, all the things we need to know to physically move about on this earth.  We must learn - renew our minds - to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's guidance in this way.  We have to learn to discern God's voice from among all of the voices we hear as we go, including our own.  But as we walk in this physical world God gives us spiritual assignments.  No! That's the way we think. The way it really works is that as we walk in the spirit, following the direction of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the spiritual assignments that God gives us to do lead us along a physical path.  We might think we are going "here" to change someone's flat tire, or we are going "there" to buy groceries.  And we do go and change the tire and buy the groceries, but we are directed there to accomplish God's purposes.  Now, we may completely ignore the spiritual aspect of these little trips, we might miss it entirely, but in doing so, we fail to move along God's path for us.

"Talk to that person over there. Tell him, or her, about me."  "That man doesn't need money for gas.  He needs to know I love him."  "That lady really does need some gas.  Give it to her in my name."  "See that man over there? He needs the money in your pocket."  "Yes, your waitress was not as good as she should have been. Show her grace in your tip. I'll make sure she receives it that way."  "Go shake his hand. He needs to know that he is somebody."  "She needs encouragement."  "He needs to hear the truth."   . . .

The message may be, "Danger! Don't stop for him" or "That woman is trouble for you", or "This one is not yours to handle. Do not take this from my appointed and anointed one."  

He might want us to go to the altar of our church house to seek Him and to listen to Him - when no one EVER goes to the altar, or even considers there to be an altar.  He might want us to cry out, as in OUT LOUD, to Him, whether we are alone behind the walls of our homes, or in the midst of prayer in our ever so quiet church services. (saw it happen recently - AWESOME!!!!!)  He DOES want us to follow Him into worship of Himself and to remember that He is our audience of One.  I would venture to say that in a crowd of any size in a worship setting is where most people fail most often to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. ( . . . just throwing that little observation, and experience, in there . . .)    

Innumerable in number and immeasurable in impact, from what we would consider to be the smallest of gestures to the largest of sacrifices, we must search, seek out, be open, willing, prepared, and surrendered to every prompting of the Holy Spirit upon our lives. These are the mile markers of our progress upon the path God has set before us. These spiritual acts, performed in a physical world, are God's path for you and me.

Being used by God is the path. Our willingness and obedience are what propels us down that path.  Our part is to be properly positioned before God.  If our intents and desires are worldly, we walk our own physical path and maybe seek out spiritual "opportunities" along the way.  Don't look for much of a spiritual nature along this path.  God is not going to give you "a little something" to do just so you can feel better about where you are. Any such "opportunity" found on your own path is there to lead you off of the wrong worldly path and onto the right spiritual path.

If our intents and desires are spiritual in nature and set on following God's will in our lives, then we will certainly find ourselves not only moving but growing spiritually.  We will "see" more and more those spiritual stepping stones that God Himself has laid out before us.  We will grow beyond seeking the path, we will be walking the path, and we can use our knees for other matters before our God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Isaiah 48:17 (NKJV) Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,the Holy One of Israel: “ I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.

Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

Galatians 5:25 (NKJVersion) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.