“If it's true I live in a world where hope has all but died, and if I really have a living love alive in me,
How am I letting it be known? How am I letting it be seen?
These are the signs, these are the signs of life: the love that proves there is a living faith inside…
These are the signs, these are the signs of life: the compassion and concern that make this world turn…
These are the signs of life!”

-Steven Curtis Chapman

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My GPS and the Way of Holiness

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” - John 14:5-6

Confession time: I’m incompetent with directions. I can’t read a map. I don’t understand how street signs work. I get lost in malls. I’ve misplaced my car twice this week. Therefore, I own a GPS. My GPS knows how to do directions, so I do what it tells me… usually.

A few weeks back, I had to go to the dentist. I scheduled it directly after my interpreting assignment - this job has been ongoing for several months. I figure I can get to the dentist from there without issue. It’s simple: one left turn so that I’m heading south, one major highway, three right turns and I’m at the dentist! No problem. I’ve used the GPS to get there before.

But that day, I didn’t realize there would be construction work on the first road I needed to take. The whole road was shut down. When I saw it, I did what I always do: pull out the GPS, set my destination and GO!

To my dismay, the GPS told me to go NORTH. Not “drive north until you’re at the first U-Turn,” but basically to drive north for miles and miles… Now, I don’t understand directions, but if I want to go south, driving north seems wrong.

So I ignored the GPS and headed south on an unfamiliar road, figuring I can find entrance to the major highway a little further down the road. Any road will eventually lead me to the place I need to go, right?

Fifteen minutes later, I had absolutely no idea where I was or how to get back to where I’d started. Lost was an understatement. By going in the direction that seemed right, I took myself completely off course.

When I finally gave up and checked my GPS, I’d hoped it would recalculate my path and send me south. It didn’t. Apparently, I was in an area where the ONLY way to get to the dentist was to turn around to my beginning location, and then drive NORTH. Eventually I turned around and began heading opposite of where I wanted to go, trusting my GPS at last.

It was the most uncomfortable feeling. Going north to arrive south didn’t seem right. It went against everything I understood of directions. The entire drive north, I thought that the GPS had to be wrong, because it felt wrong.

Finally, I arrived at the dentist’s office. As I waited for my name to be called, I felt God whispering to my heart: “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

The same way my destination was only secured by following the GPS, my only hope for salvation is submitting to God and following Him. Anything less will make me lost; anything less ultimately leads to death.

While submission to Christ leads to life, it doesn’t always feel like it. It can be painful, and heartbreaking, and unnatural – but Jesus says it is the only way.

God says that His road is narrow, and few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) The road is narrow, and Christ is the Guide that leads us on it. His path and directions may make us uncomfortable, and instinctively feels wrong. It's unnatural, because by our very natures, we sin and go against Him. Loving enemies, embracing forgiveness instead of revenge, submission to Christ, choosing joy despite trials… in human perspective, those feel wrong and unnatural! But Jesus calls us to live that life, to walk that path, while He guides. He is the Way of Holiness, the only one who leads us off the path of destruction onto the road of Restoration.

"And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it
will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
- Isaiah 35: 5 - 8

What road are you on?

Learning the Way,