Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Know the Direction, Be Surprised by the Destination

The first time we took the Kate to a Zoo. she was very young and wanted to know what it was going to be like.  "Will there be lions there?"  "I don't know, I've never been to this zoo before."  "Will the animals be just walking around where we can pet them?"  "No, most of the animals will not be walking around where you can pet them."  "How do you know?  You've never been to this zoo before."

A basic self-leadership principle is that a person cannot lead others to a place they have never been.  It is a healthy reminder that in order to lead others, we have to be going somewhere.  If I am to lead the people of our church in nurturing a relationship with God, I must be nurturing my own relationship with God, etc.

There is much truth to that principle, however, this image of leading people only to where we have already been misses the divine nature of the journey we are on.  When Moses led the people out of Egypt and toward the promised land, he didn't know where he was going.  They seem to have been wondering in the wilderness, walking circles in the dessert.  In the end, Moses gets them to the edge of the promise land.  He sees the land but never steps foot in it (Deut. 34: 1-4).  In essence, Moses led the people to a place where he had never been.  How does he do this?  He walks with God and brings the people along with him.  He does not know where he is going, but he knows what the next steps are, because God reveals those steps along the way.  At the beginning of the journey, Moses was concerned that he would not be able to convince Pharaoh to release the people, nor be able to convince the people to follow him into unknown territory.  "Moses said to the Lord, 'My Lord, I've never been able to speak well, not yesterday, not the day before, and certainly not now since you've been talking to your servant.  I have a slow mouth and a thick tongue" (Ex. 4:10).  God retorted, "I'll help both of you [Moses and Aaron] speak, and I'll teach both of you what to do..." (Ex. 4:15).

Jesus echoed this sentiment when preparing the disciples for ministry in response to persecution once he was no longer among them in the flesh: "Make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance. I'll give you the words and wisdom that non of your opponents will be able to contradict." (Luke 21: 14-15)

Sometimes trying to get a sense of how everything is going to work out in the end paralyzes us from being able to take the next steps in faith.  Our journey is by it's very nature one step at a time.  None of us can know exactly where we are headed, only whether or not we are headed in the right direction. How do you know when you are on the right path?  Do you have God-sized expectations about where Christ will lead?

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