Prayer and fasting – January
Show me the way I should walk, Lord; point out the right path to follow. Guide me with your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. I’ve been hoping for you all day. (Psalm 25: 4-5, NLT)
The way of God
Our Christmas cribs often include magicians who patiently follow the star, realizing that it will take them to something deep and that will change their lives. What we sometimes forget is that this journey lasted long time. The mages did not reach birth. But they succeeded. They were not always sure which way to go, but they believed that if they followed the star, the path would become clear.
So it is with us. As we follow Jesus, the path may not always seem clear, but we have a star to follow – a kind of map given to us for our journey. That map is the Bible. The star was not a destination for sages, but it led them where they should go. In the same way, Scripture is not our destination, but it shows the way to the purpose and future that God has created for each of us.
A few years ago, I was preaching in a chapel at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Before my arrival, the chaplain’s office sent three pages of instructions in anticipation of my visit. There was a variety of information – a schedule for the day, a description of the service in the chapel, directions to my hotel and college, a walking map of the campus, and special attractions. It was clear that they wanted to make sure I arrived in Wheaton and that I would stay there when I arrived.
As considerate as Wheaton staff were, their kindness was simply a courtesy shown to any guest who may not be able to navigate an unfamiliar area. How much do you think God loves us more? God loves us so much that God was ready to become man and die – for each of us. And God has given us a map – the Bible – many pages of instructions and information to make sure we “get there.”
However, Scripture is not a destination; and it may not always feel complete as we try to use it to move toward the destination God has created for us. In fact, we are told that there were many things that Jesus did and many events of God that people saw and experienced that were not even recorded. But we are also told that there is enough written, the map is detailed enough, that we can believe in Jesus Christ as God’s means of salvation and restoration (John 20). As we begin to believe, as our faith grows stronger, we become more able to bring God closer to the center of our lives, believing that God’s Word will provide the guidance we need to reach our destination.
One of my favorite movie series is now a classic Indiana Jones trilogy. in the last, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy must negotiate a series of life-threatening challenges in the search for the Holy Grail. He discovers a diary containing mysterious clues that will guide his quest and at every challenge, the memory of those clues saves him from certain death. He finally finds himself on a small platform on the side of a cliff. In front of him is a huge abyss; on the other hand is the path he needs. Beneath it is a seemingly bottomless abyss. There seems to be no way forward. He begins to panic even as he continues to recite the last clue – God’s way … God’s way. There seems to be no way.
“God’s way, just by jumping off the lion’s head will prove its worth.” As he utters these words, Indy realizes that he must act according to faith; he must jump, believing that the traces that have led him so far will continue to carry him. He screwed up all his courage and stepped forward into the abyss. As he does so, instead of falling into the abyss, he steps on a stone bridge that miraculously appears under his outstretched foot, carrying all the strength of his weight and carrying it safely to the other side.
Even in the best of circumstances, there will be times when the path God has set before us seems unclear. As we begin the third year of the COVID pandemic, this is especially true. We may not be sure where God is leading us. We may feel insecure about our future and God’s purpose for us. Yet, even in the midst of uncertainty, we must be reminded that all we need to know is given to us in the context of God’s Word.
Just as magicians believed that the star would lead them to something that would change their lives, we believe that the clues that have led us so far will continue to lead us to God’s future. With this trust, we can step forward in faith, convinced that as we become more and more committed to living the Word of God, a path will emerge that will lead us in the right direction.
God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “I know the plans that I have for you … They are plans for good, not misfortune, to give you a future and hope.” (29:11, NLT) As you pray and fast in this first month of 2022, I pray you keep this passage in your mind, remembering that God is using God’s Word to reveal God’s way to you. And I pray that you will be a light in the lives of others, allowing them to see God’s way as well.