Going Our Own Way
By: Kristen L. McNulty
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Over the years when I've spent time out at my aunts cottage, I've invited people to come along with me. If you've ever been to a cottage, you know that they aren't always easy to find as the further you get into the bush, the less clearly the roads are marked. And in the middle of trees and lakes, addresses and street numbers turn into "take a left at the second rock and you're there".
Realizing it wasn't the easiest place to find, years ago I made up a detailed direction sheet, that included a map, landmarks, and everything you'd need to get from town to the cottage in an hour with no hassle along the way.
Ever since creating those directions people have had a much easier time finding the place, but of course there are always exceptions to every rule.
One friend decided he didn't need directions and was very much capable of finding the place on his own. One search party later and he showed up quite late and somewhat annoyed at the fuss that had been made.
Another friend insisted that I not be bothered with forwarding them the directions, that they were happy to go on mapquest and find their own map. I forwarded the directions anyway, explaining that mapquest isn't going to give you the markers you need to find the spot, but they insisted they'd rather follow what mapquest spit out. Two hours after their set arrival time I received a phone call- they were calling from a town nearly an hour away in the wrong direction wondering if someone could guide them back.
Sometimes it pays just to follow the directions.
But we don't always do that, do we? Some of us might be very open to taking driving directions from someone, but when it comes to advice on how to handle our finances, suddenly the wall goes up. Or maybe we're open to step by step instructions on how to build a fence, but if someone dares interferes with the building of our relationships, we're on the defensive. Or we'll go to friends for advice, but in certain areas wouldn't think twice about not following what the Bible has to say about something because it seems a little too dated for our time.
In Isaiah we're warned "Who among you fears the Lord and obeys His servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon lie down in great torment."
It's very easy for us to get prideful and allow our lives to be all about us. Living each day through our so called enlightenment, our strength, and our ideas about what is wrong and right. It's like Isaiah called it, living in our own light and warming ourselves by our own fires. That's not the way it's supposed to be.
We're supposed to be walking through our lives, allowing the light of Christ to illuminate our way. Going to Him for direction and allowing His people to help us out when we need help or point us in the right direction when we're stumbling. The Christian life is supposed to be one of lowered pride and opened minds. Of being more concerned with following what is right than of worrying what other people might think of us if we appear to be weak.
Three chapters later we're told in Isaiah 53 that "All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own." (Isaiah 53: 6) I've done it, you've done it, your neighbors done it, your small group leader has done it. But where we might have strayed before or were we might be straying now, we don't need to stay in that place. Isaiah 53 teaches us that Jesus was wounded and crushed for our sins- God laid on Him our wrongs and in that, there is forgiveness. So stop right now, wherever you are and ask God to forgive you for all the times you've strayed off of the path. And ask Him to bring you back on the right road again. It might not be easy. It might require you to make some big changes in your life or maybe even eat some humble pie. But it is worth it.
So where to start? Well in the book of Micah we're given a good idea. The people were asking what they could bring to God to make up for the bad things they've done. They were people in that kind of "where do we go from here" attitude. The answer they got?
"No, O People, the Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what He requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
Doesn't sound like bad directions now, does it?
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