Sunday, August 26, 2012

The narrow path

August 26, 2012

Holy Spirit is drawing me. Deep calls to deep. I feel my humanity, the old nature, my soul, and it stinks. Yet the drawing of the Spirit of God is unmistakable. Lord I come to you, and you accept me as I am. You know that I am but flesh, yet you choose to take up residence within, and redeem this soul.
I wait in your presence. Holy Spirit come.
You fulfill your promises to us. You take us on a path that at times is difficult for us, but we must travel this path to reach our destination.
The Lord showed me a picture of a mountain top shrouded in clouds and mist.
I was on a path that went all the way around the top of the mountain, but it never ascended to the summit. I kept on the same path, going round the mountain just below the fog line for a long time, always ending back at the same place. Then he showed me a narrow way, a path up to the summit, a path shrouded in clouds and mists. This is the way to the summit! It is narrow, steep, and the view is foggy. I can't see far ahead, and I can't see the distant view. All I can do is ascend the steep, narrow path one step at a time. Each twist and turn comes up slowly and it is all I see. But I know the destination of this walk by faith will be to stand on the summit of his will for me, and I believe that he will part the clouds as I reach the summit and provide me a view, his view of the world below.
A song we sing goes like this: There is a place, a wonderful place. Where accused and condemned find mercy and grace. And the wrongs we have done and the wrongs done to us, are nailed there with him, at the cross, at the cross.

The path upward is the path of the cross. It is the path of death to self, the laying down of our lives to obtain kingdom life. It is the walk by faith. Walking in the place of obedience. The first path, the path that went around the mountain, it was in the will of God. Yet it became a plateau, a path that only went round and round until the new path was identified and traversed. Behold, the old things have passed away and new things have come! The things and places of the past, even done in the will of God,  must be left behind when the Spirit of the Lord is leading to new destinations.

It is God who leads us to new destinations. Our part is to listen and to get onto the correct path. Where are you on your path with God? Does he have you on a long road of continuous faithfulness? Is a turn coming ahead? Have you missed a turn? Is there a narrow road you need to take that you have been avoiding? There are many paths to our destination. Some are easier than others, some are faster, some have more stops along the way. But it is God who is at work in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Do you trust that the path he has for you is the best path? Trust him with all your heart.
The cross is a wonderful, painful place. The birth process is a wonderful, yet painful place. New life comes from a wonderful, yet painful process. We must embrace the pain that leads to new life. Jacob wrestled with an angel. Abraham sacrificed a son. Personal loss often leads to new freedom. For some letting go is a painful process necessary to move forward. For others fighting for something of value is the painful, wonderful process whose reward is new life.
Most often for me the place of pain is the point of decision. Once the decision is made, the pain subsides and the new path is traversed. So why do I stay at the point of decision for so long wallowing in my pain? Is this true for you? Make the decision. Lay down your life. Trust God for the outcome. Trust that he is who he says he is! He is able to redeem your mistakes if you make a wrong choice. He just wants your heart. When you submit your life to him you become a sweet smelling aroma to him. Though you feel your fleshly soul stinks to high heaven, your obedient spirit man is a pleasing aroma to him, because it is Christ in you, your hope of glory that he sees, and it is well pleasing to him.
Go for it with all your heart!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Casual Obedience

Casual Obedience

I am a follower of Jesus, but sometimes I turn my back to him. (This is the Biblical definition of evil). But always when I turn back to him (repent) he welcomes me back with open arms. He is always waiting  for me with a loving embrace! Mercy triumphs over judgement! Thank you Jesus!

There also always seems to be in my soul a battle for control. Lordship is allowing Jesus to speak to my heart, and doing my best to walk on the path he directs me to take. Sometimes when I do this I miss the mark, or it is a scary path, but it is my heart of obedience that pleases him more than the resulting circumstance.

This last week I have been noticing in my heart that at times I sense the Lord speaking to me, and I don't exactly turn my back to him, but I do delay my walk of obedience. I was taking a walk, and I decided to return to where I started, but rather than go straight back, I took a longer route. Now that was ok for the walk that I was on, but I realized that I do the same thing in my walk with God.

I don't generally run straight for the battle line like David did. I delay. I walk around the long way. I think about it. This really isn't the trust of Lordship like it ought to be. Yes, timing is important in our walk with God. There are times that God will speak to us and we need to wait on the timing to move forward. However, generally speaking I believe that when God speaks to our heart that we need to move to instant obedience. My obedience has been rather casual most of my life in God.

I remember a teaching I heard one time, that in terms of meeting peoples needs, or choosing to speak a word from the Lord to a stranger, TO NOT DECIDE TO, is TO DECIDE NOT TO. Sometimes our window for obedience is only a few seconds. We miss so much blessing by not trusting God with instant obedience.

I am faced with major life changing decisions. I have dragged my feet for over two years. How much have I missed? I found my heart in turmoil until I obeyed. God was asking me to do something outside my paradigm of vision for my life, and it took me that long to figure out that he indeed was asking me to lay down all my past career choices. I am on a new path now, but I find myself wanting to take a roundabout path so that I can "process" what he is doing. 

I am tired of going slow and taking the long way, and dragging my feet to the next destination. I want to get there now. So guess what, now I have to wait!
There are things I have no control over that I must wait for. So while I wait, I am doing my best to rid myself of all the baggage from the past that is holding me back. I have a lot of baggage. Some of it is hard to give up. But this path of obedience cannot continue to be casual. I need purposeful obedience. Forgetting what lies behind, I press on to the mark of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

I have a sense that God wants to do a new thing in all of us. We all see as "through a glass darkly" the will of God for our lives. We never know when some little decision will have a huge impact on our future. Sometimes we think we are facing a huge decision and it turns out not to be that big of a deal. Other times we make a quick instant decision with no idea that we are choosing something that is  going to affect our lives for years.

I am at a point where I know that I must leave the past behind. I get that. I also have a general sense about the future path, and yet...and yet. The natural path I see does not line up yet with the sense I have of where God has for me to go!
So all I can do is walk forward day by day. Doing my best to toss away the baggage of the past and find the path of the future. It is an exciting place.  I want so much to apprehend his promises for me. I don't see it clearly. Others seem to see it, why can't I?

Ok, here is what I do see about the Kingdom of God. Most of what we do in life is mundane, everyday stuff. Getting out of bed, preparing for the day, greeting our family, preparing meals, doing our work, praying, reading, resting, etc. But this IS all Kingdom stuff. If I think I am destined for some glorious ministry maybe I need to re-think my purpose. The most glorious ministry in the heart of God may be changing diapers and doing laundry!  Which brings me back to my point about obedience. He who is faithful in the little things is faithful also in much.  Which means if I want a glorious ministry, that I need to lay aside my casual obedience and grab hold of God instantly when he speaks. When I have to wait, then I must be faithful in what he wants me to do while I wait.

In any crowd there are only a few leaders.  There a 7 billion people on this earth.  Very few will lead. Most of us are just sheep. Yet the chief shepherd laid down his life for the sheep. Our calling is to be faithful sheep. The Lord of the universe is intimately acquainted with the depths of our hearts. Is this enough for you? Don't seek great things for yourself. God is able to lift you up. The humble he will not despise! The best leaders are changing diapers unseen by the crowds.  The greatest saints are cleaning up the daily messes of life everyday. Mother Theresa did not work alone. 

Our days on this planet are few in number, and only a few will attain the great things they dream of. Yet God's measure is not man's measure. His ways are not our ways. A daily walk with God in a relationship of humble instant obedience (not casual), is the greatest ministry anyone of us can have. Are we loving our neighbor as ourself? Who is our neighbor? Are we caring for our kids and family members like we should? Are we our brother's keeper? Are we living in peace with one another? Are we seeking great things for ourself? What does it mean to love one another? Are we doing for others what we want them to do for us? Are we storing up treasures in heaven, or seeking some kind of glory in this life? 

Take a few minutes to consider if your relationship with the King has been too casual. I know mine has been. By his grace and loving embrace, I will walk side by side with him every step of the way no matter where he goes. Remember the little things are the big things to him!