Today is a day of choosing direction for me. Yes, I do remember when I had no idea just what that means. I thought, if I can just find Jesus, I'll know my direction, and I'll never get lost. I used to pray, "Lord, please never let go of my hand." It never occurred to me that I was the one who was letting go. It was "His" job to hold my hand and lead me to where "I" wanted to go. If I decided on this direction, then He was supposed to bless my efforts. If I decided to go in that direction, then He would make me successful in that. And, if I changed my mind, well, then it was His job to keep up.
There is some humor in that frame of mind, no doubt; but there is much foolishness, also. What does the Preacher tell us in Ecclesiastes? "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NKJ). Vanity can also be translated, "useless," but I prefer the word "vanity." It more accurately describes the human condition. After all, we are often so important to ourselves.
"Look at me, God! Look how I am suffering for You!"
"Can't You see how humble I am?!"
"Why do you let others make me suffer? Smite them, Lord...and let me watch!"
"See how good I am! Look at the example I'm setting!"
I could, literally, go on and on, because, to be honest, I'm very good at whining.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible centers on Elijah, who is literally shouting at God. Remember that Elijah had just finished slaying the false prophets of Baal, Jezebel's pet priests. Now, Elijah has "girded his loins," literally pulled his robes up and, unceremoniously, tucked them into his belt. Then he ran like the dickens into the mountains (and to think that I have difficulty running up the hill after my dog). Standing at the door of a cave, Elijah entreats God to explain Himself.
Then God teaches Elijah a lesson. He sends a great wind, then an earthquake, and finally fire; but the Lord was in none of these. Soon after, the Lord whispers. There was the Lord, whispering. Do you know how hard it is to hear a whisper, when you are hollering and scared to death? But, Elijah heard the Lord. The Lord then did what the Lord does best. He asked Elijah what he wanted. Well, this was not because God was confused; it was because Elijah was confused. Then Elijah proceeds to inform the Lord, as to just how faithful he was (above everyone else). He declares to the Lord, just how he has fought for the Lord, because of God's disobedient children, who have been unfaithful.... And then, Elijah, moves on to the point of his tirade:
"...I, ALONE, am left; and they seek to take my life...!"
It is as if Elijah is saying, Then what will you do, Lord? Who will be here for you, then?! So, the Lord sends Elijah back with an even greater mission. His parting words were, oh by the way, you are NOT alone. "I have reserved seven thousand (faithful) in Israel, who have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has NOT kissed him" (emphasis mine). 1 Kings 19:18 (NKJ). Elijah was not alone. He was not the only faithful one. God had a personal relationship with seven thousand others. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," says the Preacher.
It is encouraging to note, that the prophet who was so loved by God that he never died, felt alone. I don't think that Elijah meant to be vain. He was terrified and all too human. And I think that God loved him the more, because of his humanity. Elijah continued to be obedient, and he served God faithfully, until God sent His fiery chariot to bring him into heaven. What a thrilling story, about a real man, who had human foibles, who was simply obedient, even unto a death that never came.
How in the world could this Prophet's conflict apply to me? Well, each of us is called to be obedient. Each of us is called to walk a path, and our faith is not perfect. Each step we take is uncertain, and our faith must be that when we reach out with our feet, we can be assured that God will make straight the path before us. Hard, isn't it? But, fulfilling.
I have told my children, time and again, "Keep your eyes on the Light; and when the Light moves, you are going in the wrong direction." I've also said, and I believe it with all my life, that if I ever think the world can save me; if I believe this world even has the answer; if I line up to receive the world's blessings, then I'm standing in the wrong line!
Father, please forgive me for my vanities. I reject this course, and I renew my faith in You. Jesus, You are my only way; my only choice; and I renew my faith in You. May I walk this day, setting my feet on Your path, unknowing which way the path will turn, always believing that you will make my path straight.