'An insight into the holiness of God will always produce a life-style of repentance' [Anon.]

Walking them home

in Our priorities

I really enjoy the rainforest experience. Just north of where we live are some great rainforest national parks, with many walking paths among the lush rainforests, beside waterfalls and gently flowing creeks. I enjoy the abundance of green flora, listening to the various bird calls, the rustling as lizards scurry through the blanket of leaves covering the ground, and the breezes moving through the tree branches.

Most of the walks I go on use clearly marked and signposted paths. Before setting out I know the length of the path, its condition and the duration of the walk. These paths are safe, do not require long preparation, strong physical abilities or well developed navigation skills. My rainforest walks are very different from a cross country orienteering race across mountains, deep valleys and dense forests.

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In many ways it would be nice if this journey of walking with God could reflect the type of rainforest walks that I like to go on – safe, comfortable and clearly defined.

Yet we only have to read the words of Jesus to realise that this is unlikely to be the case.

Jesus said “If any man would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:14)

From a worldly perspective, the path we walk on as we journey with God may be risky and uncomfortable. It will be limited only by what God has planned for us and enabled us to do. God consistently demonstrates through the Bible that He wants us to trust Him completely, rather than basing our confidence in our own abilities.

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. (Proverbs 28:26)

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. (Psalms 32:10)

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I am realising that this journey is not just about me and my walk with God. As each of us walk this path, we will be entrusted as guides to our family, our circle of friends, people in our church, even strangers we might meet on the street. The further we walk along this journey, as we take up this invitation our King is offering, we will want to shout from the mountaintops and encourage others to join us as we walk on.

As a husband and father I need to live my life as though I am walking my wife and my children home to be with our God. To guide them and encourage them in their own journey, helping them to live their lives according to God’s standards rather than our own, setting priorities for our interests, our time, our finances and our love for others.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

“Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

I fail as a guide for my family far too regularly than I would like to admit. Times when I feel as though I let go of their hand and go my own way, when my world and priorities once again start to revolve around me and I climb back onto the throne of my life. All too often I forget the main purpose of this journey, that this is a journey to my King, my Creator God who has given each of us an invitation to come and join Him. How can I walk along this journey with selfish motives, thinking only of myself? What would I say if, as I reached my destination, God asked me “What about those people who I entrusted to your care?”. What could I say?

I’m starting to realise that I can only hope to guide my own family if I first learn to have total reliance on Jesus. If I am walking intimately with Jesus, letting Him set my priorities, my interests, my goals. Trusting His timing rather than my own. Trusting that God’s plans for my life are better than my own plans for my life. Spending time alone with Jesus, learning about Him through His Word and talking to Him in a secret, quiet place. It is there, in those moments of quiet surrender, worship and stillness, that God speaks to our hearts.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

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All too often I find myself having incredibly self-centred motives, when my world and priorities once again start to revolve around me, when I climb back onto the throne of my life. It is at these points I have completely forgotten about the purpose of this journey. I have forgotten that this is a journey to my King, my Creator God who has given me an invitation for me to come and join Him. How can I walk along this journey with selfish motives, thinking only of myself? What would I say if, as I reached my destination, God asked me “What about those people who I entrusted to your care?”. What could I say?

There is so much more I need to learn about being a guide. Even as I write these words I am reminded again of my inadequacies and previous failings. Often it seems difficult enough to keep myself on the right path myself, without seeking to guide others as well. I continually pray that God will show me how to take my eyes off my own shortcomings and instead place my eyes firmly and solely on Jesus Christ, and that as Jesus leads me along this path, that He will show me how to encourage those around me to walk this path as well.




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