Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A voice in your ear

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it". Isaiah 30:21

Sunday morning in church someone was blindfolded and asked to walk round the building - it meant negotiating plenty of chairs, turns, knees, baby-buggies, not to mention a step or two. But he did it, and with very little difficulty (he even seemed to know when he had reached the place to aim a friendly kick at his wife). How did he manage it? Simple: someone else was walking behind him and whispering instructions into his ear - "Left turn here, two steps forward, right foot up here, your wife's just to the left...".

The prophet Isaiah foresaw a day when the people of Zion - that is, Jerusalem - would hear the voice of God: "This is the way, walk in it".

I love the simplicity of those words. They apply, I believe, to every individual child of God, to you and to me. God has a way for each of us to go, and the secret of fulfilment in life is to listen carefully for his voice and to walk trustingly in his way.

I know it isn't always as easy in practice as it sounds. There are times when we genuinely don't know which way is God's way. We get puzzled and confused. At times like that we need to rely on four key things. 

First, scripture. If our minds are soaked in God's word then we are more likely to sense his leading at vital times. 

Second, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit lives within us, and we can ponder and reflect on his guidance given to us through prayer. 

Third, common sense. Christians shouldn't be afraid of applying this. Certainly, there are times when God asks a child of his to do something that seems pretty strange - I think of Noah being told to build a ship in the desert - but they are the exception rather than the rule. 

Fourth, the wisdom of others. If we bounce our uncertainties off a trusted and mature Christian friend, their advice is likely to help us.

Whatever, the fact is that if we are humble and genuine in our search for God's way, he will make it clear to us in time. Why wouldn't he? If he loves us, why would he want us to go wrong?

Jesus spoke of the wide gate and the broad road that "leads to destruction", and of the narrow gate and the narrow road that "leads to life" (Matthew 7). As if to say, "Don't just go with the crowd! Don't opt for the easy way, don't take the line of least resistance!" The narrow gate may be harder to find, and the narrow way more difficult to walk - but it really is the difference between life and death. How many lives have been ruined because someone decided to step outside God's chosen way? Sad, so sad.

Someone might say, "But this is too late for me. It's years ago now that I took a wrong turning and lost my way. There's no possibility of retracing my steps. My life is ruined."

But no. God has this wonderful knack of giving us a new start at any point in our lives, even right towards the very end, in our old age. He can even weave the follies and mistakes of the past into a new pattern which will turn out beautiful. So don't despair. True, the past can never be undone, but it can be reshaped  into a new purpose and meaning.

So let's be careful how we walk. To step out of God's way is to step into trouble, danger and sorrow. Has anyone reading this done just that? Is anyone reading this actually doing it at the moment...? But to walk with God is to walk towards the light. 

Listen out for that quiet, loving, caring voice: "This is the way; walk in it"?

Lord Jesus Christ, you said "I am the way". Help me to take that simple word seriously, and so help me to walk  with you every minute of every day, until that day comes when I will see you face to face. Amen.

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