Monday, May 24, 2010

Go this way...

I hate stopping to ask for directions.  It feels like it'll slow me down even though not asking can sometimes leave me frittering my time away as I wander around, not knowing where I'm going.  That's why it's so helpful to find a sign that simply says, "THIS WAY" and points me in the right direction.

I found a verse the other day that felt like such a sign -- a sign that's intended to direct my heart in the right direction.  And considering the context in which this sign is posted, I'm sure that the direction it points is not where I would have naturally wandered, left to my own devices.  That's why I'm grateful to find such signs!

Here's the context, or the environment, if you will, in which the sign is posted. Paul has just asked for prayer -- prayer for evangelistic fruitfulness.  He also asked for prayer for protection from wicked men.  Then he declares God to be faithful, assuring his readers that God will establish them and protect them from the devil.  Paul then declares his readers to be faithful, and that he's certain that they'll obey what he's taught them. And then we find the signpost...  After all that talk of evangelistic needs, danger from enemies, God's protection and people's sustained obedience, Paul says, "May the Lord direct your hearts to..."  Direct us where?  Which way are we about to be directed?  In the context of prayer requests and gospel-opposition and praise for obedience, what would Paul then ask the Lord to direct his readers' hearts to?  Getting on with evangelism in their own lives? Putting on spiritual armour?  Pressing into God for His protection? Continued obedience?  I can find writings from Paul that encourage all those things.  But that's not where he asks God to direct his readers' hearts in this context.

"May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ" (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

That's what Paul wanted to emphasize amidst all those other important details:  God's love and Christ's unchanging, rock-solid sufficiency!  That's what Paul knew his readers needed in order to endure amidst the hardships of their journey through this world.  They needed to know and experience the rich love of God and to rest in a steadfast Saviour whose acceptance of us is firm and who's redemptive work for us is irreversible!

This sign points us to the truth of the "great love with which He loved us" (Ephesians 2:4) and "the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7).  This sign also points us to the fact that Jesus Christ "has now reconciled [us] in His body of flesh by his death, in order to present [us] holy and blameless and above reproach before Him" (Colossians 1:22), and that due to Jesus Christ's immeasurable steadfastness, we can be encouraged by the fact that we are now "firmly rooted and built up in Him" (Col. 2:7), "complete in Him" (Col. 2:10), "buried" and "raised up with Him" (Col. 2:12), and "made alive together with Him" (Col. 2:13).

I could go on and on!  To have our hearts pointed in this direction is like being told to continually think these thoughts: God loves me and Jesus Christ is my Rock.  Paul wanted those two simple truths to be received and settled in the lives of all those who live for God.  God wants them to be posted on a huge road sign in the hearts of every follower of Christ.  Because when they are accepted and embraced in our hearts, they provide a bright and shining sign that will clearly guide us even on the most dangerous foggy mountain roads.  And when we go in the direction that they point, we'll be encouraged each and every day of our walk with God.

© 2010 by Ken Peters


Mum said...

Good thought Ken - would save us lots of fretting and stress if we followed it all the time!

Ken said...

Yes it would! And the thing is, it's a sign that's always posted right in front of us.