So it’s been brought to my attention that the blog world has its own time frame, which I've decided is kind of like dog years, meaning it had been a ridiculously long time since my last post. So much has transpired in the last couple weeks I've actually been a little overwhelmed at the idea of trying to put any of it into words. But now that I have posted about Vessels and Flowers I am feeling less overwhelmed and trying to get caught up by posting two blogs in one day. So here we go.
Since sometime around last October I feel like the Lord has worked overtime to show me much in the area of discipline and obedience. Ok, let me rephrase that, he's probably been working overtime to teach me about these areas my whole life but October is the first time I recall making a concerted effort to listen to Him on the subject, and maybe even start to agree that my cooperation with Him may benefit all parties. It's been brought to my attention in the last couple weeks through what I'm sure were divine circumstances that I almost always have a plan B. And here's the thing, according to the world this is a totally normal idea; in some cases, it can even be considered a brilliant, practical, and absolutely necessary idea. But in my spiritual life it can really prove to be a problem. When you are so arrogant that you think you’re resourceful enough to save your own ass, then what need do you have for a savior. Obedience and discipline fly out the window quick when you get along pretty well on your own. You don't need to do all that’s asked in scripture right? Ever heard yourself or someone else say I "interpret that scripture my own way' or "yeah I don't believe that part of the bible is true”? I'm sure you've heard it one or two times and maybe from your own mouth I know I have heard it from mine. Here's the thing those phrases are a good indication that you took a detour and are now operating in plan B. A lot of us recognize early on that we are broken and in need of being “saved". We accepted Jesus as savior, but the dilemma comes when no one explains what to do next. A lot of people are still really confused about what it is to actually walk with the savior. I mean raise your hand if your still confused about how long to read your bible each day? And is it better to read morning or at night? Do I journal and is it bad if I don't? And how many people do I share the gospel with and when and how exactly do you do that again? Can I cuss? Can I drink? Where is that stuff in scripture again? Yeah, I know you probably all raised your hand. The thing is we skip the next part so often. We forget the discipleship. No one starts a job without the proper training. You can’t sell a product without studying it and learning to trust that it works. You can’t do a job or make a table without the proper skills and tools. Our walk with Christ is no different. We are told its imperative to be saved and it is! But after the hype we feel on our own again, only now there's this added guilt and shame that comes when we mess up. The best most of us do is end up with a handful of sentence fragments, we think might be in the bible, but we aren't sure where and can't remember what exactly they say, but they are supposed to give us some direction. Those fragments fail and then we find ourselves thinking I didn't sign up for this, I’m more confused than before. So we end up in plan b.
Let’s just break this down scenario style. We begin on the path the Lord had for us for the first time and we're real excited. We got our hiking gear, North Face jacket, maybe even some Chaco’s, if we're really serious one of those camelbaks. Man, we're hiking the trail its moderately rocking and hilly but we got this.The scenery is great. The Lords telling us which way to go when to stop for breaks you're getting a little tired but its good. Next day a little harder but you know, next day wow, this is getting a little steep, Lord you sure this is right way? Next day, ok I'm uncomfortable. There are huge mosquitoes and I'm allergic and itching like crazy. Eventually, I’m frustrated and quit speaking to the Lord altogether and I just follow with growing bitterness. We've waded through several creeks and I'm all wet, and one of them was full of leeches. And now I have blisters on my feet. Lord this is too much, I'm going to take a little detour over here, looks less steep to climb and I don't think there are as many creeks this way. The Lord says it’s not a good idea that’s the hardest way. But I go. Next thing you know I'm kind of lost but too prideful to ask for directions. I ran into a thorn bush a ways back and I'm bleeding. And I think I've sprained my ankle. After some hours of wondering I dead end at a cliff. Awesome. Now I'm pissed, after all it’s not my fault, man I didn't know I was signing up for this. I can barely read those old signs on the trail; some old guy probably wrote those thousands of years ago why would I trust that? After I've attempted to make a splint out of a torn piece of shirt and some sticks I realize it doesn't work like TV, liars I think, they're all liars. It’s getting dark and I realize I got to keep going because I have no idea the way back. The top of the mountain looks amazing and if I can just get up there I may be able to see which way is home. I start climbing the scariest cliff I've ever seen because there is no other way in sight. I start to climb and the whole time I’m thinking about that "I shouldn't be alive show", you know the one where the guy gets trapped in a canyon and has to cut off his own arm. At this point I'm terrified. I'm imagining myself with one arm and I'm too high to climb down or jump but I’m really tired and my arms and legs are giving out. My camelbacks empty and I'm parched. I start trying to remember if you can really drink your own pee. I realize how low I am when I start thinking of drinking pee and so I start to cry. I admit I shouldn't have veered off the path to begin with and that I should've stuck with the Lord's plan. Almost immediately after crying out I find myself coming up over the top of the cliff into a meadow and I see some signs and realize I've found the main trail. Then I see the Lord waiting. That’s when it hits me, after all I’ve just been through, I realize I made a giant circle. I feel completely defeated and guilt shows up first because I know it was the worst idea to go off on my own against the Lord’s instruction. Shame follows close behind and I’m so embarrassed about my actions and my ankle that I tuck my tail and hang my head. I stand with my head down waiting to be reprimanded. But there is no “I told you so” and I quickly realize the Lords excited I’m back on the trail. In fact he just hugs me and asks what I want for dinner. Immediately my guilt and shame dissipate. The Lord makes a fire and starts cooking. And I find myself looking up at the stars thinking “why did I ever leave?"
Sometimes we go back to old paths, old habits and resentments. Sometimes we choose our own path altogether. Sometimes we can be found on someone else’s path because we think their path looks better than ours. Other times we simply stop along the way because we won't let go of what we can’t take with us. So the deal is there are two sets of footprints on the path the steady ones are Christ’s. He is always on the path that leads us to the destiny he has for us. We are the ones that take the detours. The bottom line is that only He knows where we are going, only he knows the way. There is no plan b with Jesus only plan Him. My study the other day shed some new light on an old familiar verse the other day. Psalm 119:105 Beth points out that the verse says thy word is a lamp unto my feet , if you think through that you realize if you were standing in the dark with a handheld lantern you would only be able to see a little in front of you, only enough to take a few steps forward at a time. The Lord means for his word to guide your immediate steps. Then it says a light unto your path, meaning a guide for my immediate future. I often thought that meant with the Lords lamp the whole way would be illuminated, it would practically be day time. But the Lord's word sheds light only on our present path and our immediate future, so we'll know what steps to take, but for further instructions we'll have to hike a little ways today and check again! Its all about the relationship. I have learned that if I get ahead of him, veer off from him, or stay behind him and not walk with him I'll be in the dark. That’s where I have found myself so many times on plan b, path b, in the dark with broken ankles, contemplating cutting off my infected arm, and trying to decide if I can survive by drinking my own pee. From what I’ve gathered the Lord didn't intend for me to have to cut off any of my limbs or drink my own pee or even to hurt my ankles. He meant for me to grow strong on a path cut specifically for me to handle. He meant for me to enjoy the scenery along the way, but not to be so distracted by it that I take off after it and lose him. He did say scratched knees are to be expected. Certainly some calloused hands and feet and definitely some muscle to be built in my arms and legs. Hopefully, a sharper ear and eye to see what’s lurking in the shadows and knowledge to know the difference between what's real and whats' a mirage. And even if I choose the detour occasionally I’ve found all I have to do is utter that I'm lost and that my detour was the wrong idea. And the light reappears maybe slowly but surely and guides me back to the path. The Lord has posted signs and He gives daily instruction if I am willing to obediently listen and follow. His word is the only lamp. All the questions will be answered someday, maybe not all now, but I have found scripture answers just enough questions for me to know I can take a few steps forward. I've been lost in the dark and almost amputated my arm several times and this year I'm trying obedience because plan B has never worked. If obedience is my safety then who knows I may make it to heaven with minor aches and pains, and few scars, but all my limbs in tact.