Be still and know that I am God… Psalms 46:10 NIV
There is something that has been lost in today’s modern culture that was more of a thing when I was growing up: the family vacation trip. Hitting the road in a wood paneled station wagon may sound like something from a cheesy movie comedy, but it was an actual experience for a lot of us growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. And one thing for sure that happens on those trips is that you get to know your family and yourself. Yessir, if you want to really know someone, take a trip with them. The journey will bring things out in those you travel with and yourself that you may never have known. Journeys can be like that; revealing. I think that’s why God takes us on so many of them in our life, He wants us to know Him and ourselves.
Who is God?” and “Who am I?”. Isn’t that in essence what the serpent insinuated when he tempted Eve with the fruit? Who are you? Who is God really? Can you trust Him? Do you believe Him? Are you sure? Why?
God wants to take us on a trip through His heart. A place to reveal who He is to us and in the revealing of who He is, who we are is revealed as well.
Now, if you take a road trip something you are going to see an abundance of are road signs. The good people of the federal government have taken the time and spent the money to put up all these road signs meant to help guide us and keep us safe as we travel along the highways and byways. Isn’t it interesting that after all that time and effort to make those signs and erect them all over the country in just the right places, we seem to pay so little attention to them. There are times I’ll be driving along and Aspen will point out a road sign, say a speed limit sign, and reference it to the velocity we happen to be traveling at. My laze faire reaction communicates to her the idea that those signs are there for other people, and isn’t a good thing we have them for those people who need them and thank goodness we aren’t one of them…we’re “special”.
More than once in my life I have seen a ‘slow down there’s a curve coming up sign” with a suggested speed for me to go based on the tightness of the curve. I gauge the angle of the curve by what I can see and I don’t always slow down to the suggested speed. Ok, to be honest I never slow down to the suggested speed. Sometimes it works out just fine and I bend around the curve at 10 or so miles over the suggested speed. But there are the times I go into the curve based on what I can see at 10 mph over the suggested speed and I end up hitting the breaks to slow myself down. Because it wasn’t just the curve I could see, but multiple curves, all of them tighter curves than the original first one I could see. The people who created the sign and posted it for my safety knew what the road ahead held for me because they had been there. I, on the other hand, made my choices based only on what I could see, which isn’t always a good idea.
Now, lets apply this spiritually to our lives. Like we said earlier, God takes us on a lot of trips in our lives, but all are part of the big journey through His heart to reveal Himself to us and us to ourselves. And, better than the federal government, God has given us signs along this journey to guide us and keep us safe. We can compare road signs to Gods words in our lives. And God’s road signs don’t only give directions, they also reveal who He is and who He is changes us. But will I believe that the One who put up the sign knew what lay ahead on the road or will I believe those signs are for the “other” people who really need them?
One of the signs He reveals at just the right place is the above mentioned “Slow Down Curves Ahead.” Have you been on that stretch of road in your life? Where life seems to all of a sudden have one curve after then next and each one a little sharper than the last? It is my choice to either go into the curves of life faster than the suggested speed limit or believe that the One who put the sign up knew what lay on the road ahead and slow down accordingly. I can live my life based on what I can see, or I can live my life believing Gods words are true and slow down. He knows what lies ahead even though I can’t see.
living out a loving relationship with Jesus is living out His words.
If you have been listening to our little broadcast lately, you probably have picked up that we are currently having a fascination with the life of Abraham. It’s really cool how many things we can see and learn from his life and experience with God. It’s easy to see how he earned his title of Father of the Faith. His journey with God is no different than ours. God planted various road signs into his life journey just like He does for us. The road signs are an invitation into the heart of God. Lets take a look at a few of them.
Green light. Green means go and this is the first sign God pops up for Abraham. God gives him the green light and tells him to leave his homeland and “go somewhere”. But every time God tells us to “go somewhere” He is asking us to come and follow Him. Again, He wants to take us on a trip through His heart. The place where we discover who He is and who we are.
Sometimes we have preconceived ideas of who God is and who we are, but the deeper we go into the heart of God the more truth we find.
Truth sets us free from our preconceived ideas. Our preconceived ideas of who we are or should be is like a mask we wear. A mask of deceit. But when we follow God into the truth of His heart the mask comes off because God reveals the truth of who we are.
Abraham did believe God promised to make him the father of many nations. (Genesis 17:4) but he deceived himself into believing Ishmael, a son he provided for himself, was God’s promised son to him. And that takes us to the next road signal that pops us on Abraham’s journey-a great big Stop Sign.
Don’t you hate Stop signs? I tell Aspen all the time at red lights, stop signs and long lines of traffic, “I hate waiting.” It seems Abraham and Sarah got tired of waiting as well and didn’t proceed with caution. They barreled through the curves and brought about Ishmael. God tells Abraham Ishmael is not the promised son. Big, red, octagonal Stop sign! God is telling him to stop believing the lie he created. When God puts up the stop sign, it is time for me to stop doing what I think is the right thing and to start doing what God says is the right thing.
Can you imagine the thoughts running through Abraham’s head? First of all he has to be excited for the promised son. Second, he must feel bad for Ishmael because he is the oldest son and yet he is not the promised son so he will have to give up his place of inheriting all that is Abrahams. It must hurt to think of hurting his beloved son. And third God has revealed a blind spot in his life. And the bright light of truth shining into our blind spot is painful.
There he was cruising along just fine through those curves he should have slowed down for. Maybe he had a motorcycle or a car designed to handle the curves at high speeds. He was enjoying the wind in his hair and the success of his son. God was good and he believed it with all his soul. And then God pops up the stop sign. STOP. Those white letters on a red octagon sign. There’s no mistaking it. STOP.
There are times despite God’s stop signs we want to keep on going. We can’t see why we shouldn’t. Everything looks fine up ahead and we can’t see anything dangerous. And yet the sign says STOP and the light stays red. God knows the path He has prepared for us. When the stop sign goes up, it is a time to be still and know God. A time to stop because it is the best way to move forward.
There are many other signs that Abraham encounters along this journey God is taking with him, and we can’t talk about them all, but a really big one comes towards the end of the trip and it’s a really hard one: a big yellow and black “YIELD” sign. You know that one, right? It usually means waiting yourself and letting someone else go ahead of you. Yield is a hard one for me. I’m cruising along ahead of the pack, all those “other” drivers behind me and all of a sudden I have to slow down, put myself aside, and let others in front of me. Basically putting my will aside for the good of everyone. That’s kind of what God did. He tells Abraham to offer his promised son, who he loves with all his heart, soul and mind, as a sacrifice to Him. This is a yield sign and a big one. Time to yield to the will of God. But it is hard to yield to the will of a humble God’s heart when pride offers us the prize of doing what we want to do. And here for Abraham that was wanting to NOT offer his son as a sacrifice.
But over the course of Abraham’s life his everyday living out the words of God, learning to stop, go and yield to God’s road signs, his reliance on the power of God at work in his life became stronger and deeper. His faith in God’s GPS for his life became stronger and stronger till finally he reached the point where he could trust the directions God was giving him even though he could not see what lay ahead. He didn’t know how God’s plan would work out, only that He trusted that it would because he now knew himself and God deeper than ever before. Isn’t that what God wants for all of us in our life journey with Him?
We are all going to have times in our journeys where God says “Go”, “Yield”, “Stop”, “Proceed with caution,” “Rough road ahead”…but all of those experiences He promises to travel with us and are meant to know Him better, ourselves better, and trust His plan and direction for our lives and His GPS that will bring us home.