Who’s in the driver’s seat?

imageObsessive, compulsive and driven, I thought I had my journey all mapped out. I had dreamt about what it would be like. I’d read ‘guidebooks’ about where I wanted to go and about the journeys of others. I thought it would be great to follow the same route they had taken. I wanted to choose the security and familiarity of well worn paths. I certainly hadn’t learnt to travel light, I was carrying way too much excess baggage. I did want the journey to include some adventure but it was to be on my terms. A bit like Goldilocks, not too much, not too little, just right!!

I would never choose a coach tour but I wouldn’t fancy a mystery tour either. I would prefer to go self drive, so I can be completely in control.

But Jesus has been teaching me “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.” (Matthew 16:24 MSG)

Chronic fatigue stopped me in my tracks.

So often it’s felt like I was going nowhere, going round in circles, even going backwards. But sometimes that is the only way forward.

God had a different journey mapped out for me and that included going off the beaten track, down paths I didn’t even know I needed to discover, so He could guide me along His right paths (Psalm 23:3).

I’ve learnt so much along the way, not only about my travelling companion and guide but about myself.

I love what Jean Williams has to say in her blog “In All Honesty
“… like many who have suffered, I wouldn’t swap what I have learned about God’s love for anything. What I used to know in theory, I now know from experience: there really is nothing he will not give us grace to face.

But of course part of me asks: what happened to the life I planned?

Here’s what happened: God had better plans for us. Harder and better ones. We run this race in the sight of others. And if we have to make Jesus known through our pain and our tears, then so be it. Because I would rather have this life with him than my carefully planned life without him.

We are all on a journey.

I have no idea what your journey looks like or where it has taken you … bereavement, divorce, debt, redundancy, unemployment, depression, ill health, empty nest or barrenness; what paths you may have chosen to take through ambition or addiction; whether you have journeyed one or several of these paths…

But what I do know … in all the valleys, battlefields, hard places, deserts and wildernesses of life, ‘God is with us (Martin Smith – ‘You are here, Emmanuel’)

“You are here in the hurricane
You carry me through the driving rain
All I need to know, is You are with me.
You are here in the desert sun
And in Your shadow’s where I belong
All I need to know, is You are with me.”

He is faithful and we can always trust Him, even when we stay too long in the places we would rather avoid or we barely get to stop in the comfortable places where we long to linger.

He is moving us out of our comfort zone for a purpose, His purposes.

Would I have chosen this journey? Probably not!

Would I have changed it? Definitely not!

I would have missed out on so much along the way.

We get to enjoy the journey more when He is in the driving seat!

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Roots

imageRoots. I don’t always notice them or think about them. Until I nearly tripped over some tree roots when I was walking in the Riverside Park! I had to look where I was going and choose my footsteps carefully, because the roots had disrupted the path.

This got me thinking about what roots actually are and what they do. Cue some dictionary definitions (forgive me, I’m a nerd!). First, the obvious one.

The part of a plant which attaches it to the ground or to a support.

No surprises there! But the next definitions spoke to me about God and our relationship with Him!

The part of a thing attaching it to a greater or more fundamental whole.

The persistent underground part.

If God is our “greater or more fundamental whole”, then what are the roots attaching us to Him? What is “the persistent underground part”?!

For me, the roots are His love, salvation, presence, our identity in Him. The persistent underground part? Obedience.

Not blind obedience without thinking.
Not obedience trying to win love and acceptance.
But obedience coming from love and acceptance.

We know our secure identity as our God’s treasured possession. The apple of his eye. Adopted child of the King of Kings.

We obey from a place of freedom and free choice.
As we feel God’s nudge to do something, we are free to ignore it.
It’s too hard.
I can’t do that.
That would wreck everything!

But, what if we choose to obey anyway?

For starters, we know that we are pleasing God!

“Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice…” ( 1 Sam 15:22 NLT)

As we obey, there’s no guarantee that it will be easy. Sometimes it’s just the opposite! But our roots take us deeper into God, no matter what our circumstances are.

“Just as the roots of trees take firmer hold when they are contending with the wind, so faith takes a firmer hold when it struggles with adverse appearances.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)

As the roots of trees go deeper and take firmer hold, they can spread out and start to disrupt the area around them. The path in the forest is no longer flat and easy to walk on. The roots have shifted the ground, right through to the surface of the path. The way we used to walk just doesn’t work anymore.

And, as we obey God, that can disrupt every area of our life.

But, is it worth it? Undoubtedly!

Recently Martin Smith led worship at Causeway Coast Vineyard and we sang these words:

I’m coming back to the start
Where You found me
I’m coming back to your heart
Now I surrender
Take me
This is all I can bring

I’m coming back to the start
Our God is freedom
And here we feel Your heart
Your heartbeat for us
Take me
This is all I can bring

You’ll never stop loving us
No matter how far we run
You’ll never give up on us
All of heaven shouts: let the future begin

We can run, like Jonah, but He’ll never stop loving us!
Or we can go back to the start, to our first love. Our God is freedom. He is for us.
And if we surrender to Him, the adventure begins!

I feel alive, I come alive
I am alive on God’s great dance floor!