THE TRIP TO … WHERE AM I?

It is no secret in our family that I have absolutely no inherent sense of direction. Even with the little N or SW on the car’s information panel, I often don’t know which way to go.  Unless I am driving to my grocery store, my office, my church, it would be anyone’s guess about when, or whether, I would get to the place I intended to go.  [I call this my “elongated route syndrome” rather than simply saying that I get lost all the time.]

The best example of one of my elongated routes was the subject of an earlier blog entitled The Elongated Trip posted May 23, 2015.  I was to go to Bristol, Tennessee from Knoxville in the days before GPS or the voice of Siri directing your travel. This trip is, for almost everyone, about 120 miles.  But, for me, on that day, the trip was over 240 miles, not on interstates but rather on state routes through the mountains, valleys and byways of Tennessee and Kentucky. 

map-showing-elongated-trip

As you can likely guess, the yellow is the easy route that I should have taken while the green line shows the actual path that I drove.

Bill and I recently drove through Bristol and, since Bill was driving, I could think about that long drive.  While the trip was decades ago, I still remember it vividly.

It occurred on a day when frustrations, fears and financial deficits were facing me with full force; it was a day when I was sure that the future was bleak and that there would be no possible rescue.  I did not doubt that God loved me, nor did I think that He had abandoned me … I just did not see how any relief would be coming that would help my dire situation.

When we don’t know what to do or where God is directing us to go, we often become anxious, frustrated, and sometimes resentful, thinking that we are just “biding time” while others are active in the ministry that we want to do. After all, we want to get going!

During times such as this, try to back away from the situation and consider whether God might be trying to teach you a lesson.  Remember, the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian and it is His job to transform us into the likeness of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. This transformation occurs by developing the fruit of the Spirit that Paul details in Scripture, such as in Galatians chapter 5.  So, look and see where the Holy Spirit is working in your heart, see what God is teaching you.

Think about the lessons in patience that you can learn as you wait for the Lord!  Scripture often exhorts us to wait …

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Psalm 27:14  

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31  

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7

Think about the lessons in peace and faithfulness that you can learn as you trust God to guide your steps …

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 28:7

… For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

oregon-lighthouse-and-gps-c
Lighthouse and GPS — the old and new navigation tools meet along the Oregon coastline.

God will lead us as surely as the lighthouse pointed the way to the seafaring voyagers and as specifically as our modern GPS technology allows.  (Both are noted in this picture from the Oregon coast, the lighthouse on the left and the GPS on the roof of the adjacent building.)

We usually don’t know why we have an “elongated route” on our road with the Lord.  We can’t see His reason for taking us along that way at that time, but we don’t need to know all that.  All we need to know is that we are in the Hands of our loving Father. 

Charles R. Swindoll said it like this in Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life (Zondervan):

“We’re not supposed to have airtight answers! Why? Because our understanding is earthbound. . . . Our focus is from the ground up. . . . We see now, He sees forever. We judge on the basis of the temporal; He, on the basis of the eternal. . . . His vantage point is infinity.”

Trust this Lord who will teach us lessons while we are going along the “elongated route”. He knows our ultimate destination and He has planned our trip so when we get to our destination, we will have the ability to do the assignment that He has for us to do.  The lengthened route may be designed to quiet your soul so that you can hear His voice speaking words of calm, encouragement, direction, and strength into your heart and soul.  It certainly did that for me.    

The classic hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” expresses the desire to grow in our Lord while we are “waiting, yielded and still”.  Here is the hymn as sung on the album Hymns in the Vineyard.

 

Give Him the keys to your life.  And keep your eyes on Him as He directs your path.

Father, I praise Your name for Your faithfulness and patience as You teach me lessons even when I am complaining about having to wait or when I am unsure of where You are directing me to go.   Enable me to have faith sufficient to simply hand over the keys to my life to You and then let me ride along on the trip that You have planned out for me.  Mold me and make me after Your will, so all can see Christ only always living in me.   

 

A LIGHT IN THE DARK

Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon
Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon

Lighthouses are fascinating. Their locations are most often isolated from the rest of society, remote and alone. Solitude and quiet prevail as they are often shrouded in fog. The Heceta Head Lighthouse with its supporting building is beautiful in clear skies.

The purpose of a lighthouse is to be a signal of location, safe port and/or dangerous shoals. That purpose is illustrated by the Heceta Head Lighthouse when, after the storm rolled in, its lamp became illuminated – the lighthouse is doing its work.

Heceta Head Lighthouse with lamp burning
Heceta Head Lighthouse with lamp burning

The romantics will picture the lighthouse as very tall, overlooking the ocean, with a residence for the keeper inside the lighthouse itself or as a separate dwelling a short distance away. Indeed, this is the quintessential description of a lighthouse.

But, the lighthouse comes in many shapes and sizes. A lighthouse on a mountain, bluff or terrain that is high above the ocean has no need to be raised to the heavens – it just needs to be higher than the vegetation that separates it from the ocean.

Cape Meares Lighthouse, Oregon
Cape Meares Lighthouse, Oregon

The Cape Meares Lighthouse at the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint in Oregon is one such lighthouse that did not need to be tall to do its work.

When on the trail to the lighthouse, there is no reason to believe that a lighthouse is nearby. The path is through a forest, and it is a cool, comfortable route, not uphill, not rocky, not difficult; rather carefree. Then, magically, you see the light itself, seemingly at eye level.

Path to Cape Meares Lighthouse, Oregon
Path to Cape Meares Lighthouse, Oregon

Scripture has much to say about lamps and lights. Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus is speaking to the crowds and is giving what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. Immediately after giving the Beatitudes, He says:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Cape Meares Lighthouse Lamp
Cape Meares Lighthouse Lamp

In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul says:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

Solitary lighthouse in the fog.
Solitary lighthouse in the fog.

Just as all lighthouses are not identical, believers in the Lord Jesus do not all look the same. However, our purpose is identical — to shine in the dark, pointing others to Jesus and giving glory to God. We may be the light of the world in many different manners and in diverse places; but the Light is the same. It lightens the darkness of the world through Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Maine lighthouse
Maine lighthouse

The world is dark and it seems that it is getting darker by the minute. But, as Christians, we are the light of the world. Don’t let your circumstances dim your light or let the darkness overwhelm you. Don’t let your focus be lost. We have a job to do and we have access to the Power to do it.

Therefore the question becomes: What is the condition of our lamp?

Do we have power because we are in close fellowship with the Lord, the Source and Provider of the power to do His work?

Has our light gone out because we have ignored the study of Scripture, prayer for the work ahead, confession and repentance of our sins?  Or, perhaps we have been so self-centered that we forgot there is a dark and hurting world out there.  A darkened lamp just melds and meshes into the rest of the darkness. Its purpose is defeated.

So, check your lamp. Is it lit? If not, pray as you need and seek Power from our Lord — then go out and be the light in your world!