To make the road obvious

I have no sense of direction on road trips or in buildings or anywhere. Even if the sun is visible and someone tells me which direction I’m going, I can’t tell you which way I’m heading without careful contemplation. So as you can imagine, Google Maps is my friend, and that has special meaning this morning.

As you’re reading this, I’m driving by myself to Estes Park. My best friend got married this past weekend, and now I’m heading out on a week-long sabbatical of sorts. I’ve been this way before, though, so there’s not much chance that I’ll get lost.

I’m stepping back from normal life for a little while, taking a road trip with Jesus, because it’s time for me to take a good, long look at life, the universe, and everything.

At some points in our lives, I think it’s a good idea to reevaluate the decisions we’ve made, to make sure that we’re still heading in the direction God wants. It’s the same reason you carry a compass when you go hiking.

God asks us to follow Him, but if we don’t stop sometimes to make sure we’re still on the right path, we run the risk of wandering off.

My life verse has always been Proverbs 3:5-6, and I’ve always found it to be true. I can make my own plans as much as I want, but ultimately God is the one in control of my life. How foolish would I be if I tried to do things my own way?

But I do. Often.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6That’s why I have my compass, Proverbs 3:5-6 — Trust God, even when life doesn’t make sense, and He’ll make your path obvious.

A few other versions of the Bible translate verse 6 to be: “he will make your paths straight.”

But I think I love the Amplified version the best:

In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

How awesome is that?

That’s the kind of awesome I need in my crazy, confused, stressful life, to know for sure that the direction I’m walking is the one God wants for me. That’s the sweet spot, where I want to live.

So that’s what this week is about. Refocusing. Getting centered on God’s Word again. Making sure that I’m following Jesus’ road the way I’m supposed to, not trusting my own interpretation of life, but instead trusting His.

That’s the hard part, because I like to make sense of life. I like to fit the scattered pieces of life into a neat portrait, like a jigsaw puzzle coming together. But life can’t make sense without Jesus. It’s hard enough to make sense of it with Him, I wouldn’t even want to try without Him.

Life can't make sense without Jesus. - A.C. WilliamsSo in those moments where you need to check your directions, remember your compass. Remember that trusting your own understanding won’t help you conquer the trouble life throws at you. Instead, trust what God says. Do what God says. And keep your eyes peeled for the road God wants you on, because as long as you’re relying on His directions, the road you’re supposed to be walking will become obvious.

That’s a promise.

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Life’s too short to rush from one crisis to the next

Last week, I took some friends to the zoo to show off what Wichita has to offer in the way of tourism. We didn’t plan to pick a gorgeous day for walking around outside, but that’s what we got. It’s December, so we expected it to be cold and snowy or rainy and miserable, but it wasn’t. It was beautiful. Light jacket weather. Warm sun. Blue skies. And all the animals at the zoo were feeling it too, because they were all outside soaking it in.

Sometimes life throws us rare moments of joy or wonder. It’s not that life is altogether a horrible thing. Quite the opposite. But normal life can get tedious sometimes, and we can get so busy with the day-to-day stuff that we forget to rejoice when something rare and wondrous and incredible comes along.

A goat chilling in the rare December sun at the African Farm exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

A goat chilling in the rare December sun at the African Farm exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Jeremiah 6:16.

This is what the Lord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.
But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m wired to work. I don’t stop. Even when I’m sitting down watching a TV show, my brain is going a million miles an hour in the background. I’m always running, running, running to get stuff done, and that’s great for productivity most of the time. That’s great for the everyday tasks that need to be done. But when you get into the habit of work, work, work, when the time comes to rest it’s hard to stop.

And you must. We have to be able to turn off the work, work, work part of our brains and learn how to rest, otherwise we’ll burn ourselves out. Rest doesn’t have to be complicated either. It can be a short moment that you just stop what you’re doing and do something else for five minutes. Take a walk. Spin around in circles. Laugh at the sky. Make a cup of tea and drink it. Whatever floats your boat. Whatever gets you out of your work-work-work focus and into a mindset of refreshment. It’s different for everyone.

God expects us to rest. Don’t just rush from one crisis to the next. Life’s too short for that. Look for the road you’re supposed to be on and walk it consistently, and the proper road will give you the opportunity to rest. The wrong road will suck the life out of you.

But whatever you do, don’t let the moments pass. Don’t let the rare times when the sun is shining go by without taking the time to enjoy it. When you see God do something awesome, stop what you’re doing and recognize it. Praise Him for what He’s doing. It doesn’t matter how bad a mood you’re in, if you start praising God, you’ll probably feel better when you’re done.

Let’s get to work while we still have time

When I’m really busy or loaded down with deadlines, my default is to stop working and play. The more I have to do, the more I want to do nothing. I’m not sure what that is or where it comes from, but it’s one of the weaknesses I’ve noticed about myself. And it’s a pain in the butt.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to do. And the things I’m doing are important. I’m following Jesus with everything I have, writing for Him, working for Him, loving people for Him, trying to live according to His Word. In the end, it doesn’t matter what I feel like doing. It comes down to what I am doing and what I haven’t done.

time-watch-hands-of-a-clock-clock-pointersToday’s verses are Romans 13:11-12.

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.

There’s not a lot of time left. I’m not sure how many people are willing to accept that, but the world is getting darker by the moment. If you’re a Christ-follower, you can’t ignore that fact. The longer the world goes on in this state, the more trouble we get into.

This world and our lives here won’t last forever, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that our time is running out. We have a limited span of time to be here before God calls us home, and in the big picture of eternity, our handful of decades on Earth isn’t very long. But God gave it to us for a reason.

You can do a lot in 70 years. Heck, you can do accomplish a lot in 32 years, if you’re willing to work hard and do what God says is right. But it’s not easy. And you run into those days where you don’t want to do anything, where life just feels like you’re running in circles, like you aren’t actually accomplishing anything.

And maybe you’re not. Maybe you really are spinning your wheels, and if that’s the case, you need to stop and think about your situation. Are you really doing what God has called you to do? Or are you just staying put because that’s where you’re comfortable?

Our time here is running out, and God put us on this Earth to work for Him. I know it’s frustrating to be so busy you can’t keep your head above water, but that’s where priorities come into play. That’s where we need to start making the hard choices that will allow us to do the things that matter and let the things that don’t slip away.

What has God called you to do in your life? Are you doing it? If you aren’t, why not?

There’s nothing wrong with resting. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break. We all need it from time to time, and it’s important that we take the time we need to recover when we’re tired. But don’t stay there. Don’t keep sitting when you need to be moving. Don’t keep resting when you need to get back to work. We all have jobs to do.

The sunlight is nearly gone, and soon it’ll be too dark to work. So let’s get busy about God’s work now, while we still have the time.