Sunday, March 20, 2011

Signposts on Life's Path ~

Along unfamiliar paths I will guide him.  Isaiah 42:16

Good Sunday morning~ Today in Chapter 29 of Meeting God in Quiet Places: The Cotswold Parables by F. LaGard Smith, we're gently reminded that one of our goals in life is to be an example to others. This parable comes from the many footpaths which are in the area where LaGard takes his daily walks. These paths have many signposts--yellow arrows on gates, posts, trees, and rocks--arrows pointing the direction to the next crossing or turn. And, not surprisingly,  there are also maps and guidebooks to help walkers manuever hill and dale.

Sounds easy, but it isn't always as clear as it sounds. No matter how many signposts and maps are in place, both time and nature may have managed to hide the signposts and cause confusion about which direction to turn, especially for someone who is new to the area. No one is going to get completely lost, but searching for hidden signposts can cause walkers to become disoriented and confused, taking them in a circular pattern for a while, or even into a wall of rusty barbed wire. But once the footpaths and signposts become familiar, they're like old friends waiting to greet you. In fact, LaGard has become so familiar with both, he can now direct visitors toward the right footpath. Taking directions from an American may come as a surprise, but even British walkers are grateful for help  in making their way across the area. In the end, his experienced direction means the ramblers no longer feel lost and confused. 

How does this create a parable that has meaning for our lives? Well, for one thing, we can remember that Jesus is our personal guide when our written instructions seem unclear. Jesus, as the incarnate Word, helps us when we have decisions to make, or are having a confusing time in our lives. In a spiritual sense, He is our friend and personal guide toward the right path. So, where does that leave the written word? Well, we know that Jeremiah said that it isn't within us to direct our own steps. And when we try, we get lost and confused. So even though the Holy Scripture is full of stories, drama, and poetry, it also contains signposts which point us to God. And that's why God's revelation is so important to us.
But, we should also be aware that the written Word can give us an opportunity to take spiritual shortcuts with the meaning of the text, or find loopholes which take us off the beaten path; therefore, God has given us a personal Guide in the written and spoken Word made flesh. Jesus is our reliable guide--a guide we can safely and confidently follow. Remember when Jesus called the twelve apostles, saying, "Follow me"? He was also calling you and me, saying, "Follow me, for I am the Way." Yes, you're right...following Jesus does mean taking the highest path, and the highest path stretches us to points we never thought to go. At least we can know for sure that it's the right path!

But there's more to following Jesus than simply staying on the right path. Jesus has given us an example to follow in daily life, as well as in death and the life to come. We follow by faith because He is the personal expression of all the written biblical precepts. And we follow in his footsteps because He is the One who has gone before us as our example. 

LaGard says: "But here the metaphor must change. No longer are we 'following' Jesus--as if separated by some distance--but we have Christ in us, bringing life, and strength, and hope. With Christ in us, never is the destination clearer!" So it isn't as easy as it sounds--just like being on a footpath--the path seems easy, but may become confusing without knowing the directions. So we may begin to wonder why more people don't want to follow Jesus and have him intimately involved in their lives. One answer might be that they don't know they're lost! And that makes sense, if those who claim to be leaders are actually following the lost. If people can't tell that you're doing something different, how do they know you're following Jesus? If people are watching you, what do they see?
As we make our daily walk, we might want to ask whether people who have never read the Bible for themselves, or people who can't make sense of it on their own, can read the Bible by looking at our behavior. LaGard says: "Whether or not we think of ourselves as spiritual leaders, the truth is that, day by day, we are leading people either to or away from a relationship with God." You might even say that you're a human signpost--a yellow arrow pointing down one path or another. And what makes the biggest difference is whether you are simply following Christ at a distance or whether you have Christ in you!

Ask yourself these questions: Is Christ really at the center of my life? Have I been transformed by his strength and power? Does my relationship with Christ make a difference, moment by moment, in what direction I take? If people follow my example, will I be leading them in the right direction?
Have a blessed Sunday~




  1. Thank you Mimi,What a wonderful reminder for us,and I feel this was written just for me today:) Hugs

  2. Hi Sherrie~ I've sent you a few messages but got no reply, so thought maybe you're really busy. I'm glad you were inspired by this blog~
    Love to you...Mimi