“Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path” Psalm 27:11
My Own Little Book
Were you to read my journal, you’d detect several years of my spiritual journey reflected in its pages.
Recently I took a look back to some journal entries and discovered that for nearly two years I’d been on a journey of prayer, perseverance and waiting on the Lord. God was leading me out of a ministry I’d been involved in for several years. As I spoke to him through my journal, asking questions and sorting out my feelings, my faith was being tested.
I knew I couldn’t make any moves without hearing from God first, and that required patience. If I hadn’t waited and prayed, things might have turned out badly. When the answers to my questions finally came, I was at peace. It took time, but I finally got to the point where my prayer changed from “I don’t know what to do, Lord,” to “What would you have me do?”
For me, there’s a big difference in those two attitudes. I have a tendency to go ahead without waiting for his guidance. And God sometimes isn’t in a hurry to give it.
That particular period of testing could be called a journey within a journey. I believe it can happen when God wants to move us from one level of spiritual maturity to another. Following him is very much like taking a trip in which the Expert Travel Guide determines the itinerary.
A Classic Book
In John Bunyan’s classic “Pilgrim’s Progress,” Christian and Hopeful meet four Shepherds on the Delectable Mountains. They’re not far from their final destination. Like me, the two had been through many experiences that tested their faith. Would they persevere? The Shepherds asked the pilgrims three pertinent questions because so few people who had set out on the journey made it that far. They asked,
“Where did you come from?”
“How did you get into the way?”
“By what means have you persevered?”
Christian and Hopeful tell their tale with all its trials and how they overcame them.
The Shepherds–Experience, Knowledge, Watchful and Sincere,–asked for basic facts about their pilgrimage: What it was like before they began their journey, what happened, and what it was like now.
We can carry this same message of life transformation; and our stories of redemption–even of the darkness before being set free–are of value.
Christian and Hopeful received a document instructing them what they should do, what they should avoid on their journey ahead, and exact directions to the Celestial City. Then, standing from the top of a hill called Clear, Christian and Hopeful got a peek at the gates of the City.
Sharing the Greatest Book
I can record my story in a journal and keep it in the chambers of my heart. But sharing my journey of faith and pointing people to Christ counts for something. God is revealed as a faithful and loving Lord. He’s faithful to guide us through those times when we don’t know what to do. Then, as the Shepherds did, I can express hope of eternity in heaven.
“I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (Philippians 3:14 NLT)
When Christ sets us free, we are free indeed.
However, just as the pilgrims in Bunyan’s book weren’t promised an easy way, neither are we. Fortunately, we’re promised the power of the indwelling Spirit for guidance and comfort. God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves and when we realize the measureless grace he’s offered, there’s no experience on our spiritual journey that’s wasted.
Oh, God of grace, who watches every step I take, guide me into your will. Keep me safe in my trials and give me the willingness to follow the voice of your Spirit instead of my own fickle emotions. May I always keep in mind the prize that awaits when I humbly wait for your best for me. Amen.