Young children learn the word “why” early, and use it in response to many statements we make to them. If we are asking them to do something, or to stop doing something that is harmful, we really can’t give them an answer they would understand. We are asking for compliance for their good. The reason comes from our experience and a view of life that they don’t have and can’t yet see. We have seen consequences to certain actions or inactions they have not. We are asking for trust in love. It is the way God deals with us when He gives directions that are for our good. Because we love Him we trust in His greater wisdom. The same with parent and child, but it is difficult. It takes patience, and persistence. Continuing to give guidance in love, especially in the face of repeated resistance, is painful. It has been painful to God, and it is painful for us. Yet there is hope. There is forgiveness. There is a new beginning. And the love, strength, and guidance of God never fails. We continue each day in the best wisdom God gives, trusting in the depth of love He has for each of us.
Almighty God is the author and source of life. He breathed into us the breath of life both physically and spiritually. We rebelled from the Source of Life bringing the curse of death upon ourselves. Ever since that first rebellion God has been working to restore life to mankind. He chose Israel to carry His truth to all nations. He gave them laws for guidance, and worship practices to instruct them in His nature. He sent prophets, priests, and kings to show the way of life. Finally, He entered human life Himself to make atonement for sins and conquer death. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”(John 10:10) God is about life, the best life mankind can have. That is why He has given He Holy Word to guide us into the path of life. Life is not found just in any old way that makes us happy, but in the path God established to bring us back to a full life in Him.
A Christian often finds himself caught in the middle – wanting to show compassion but needing to stand firm on convictions; facing battles in this world but without using the same weapons the world uses. The life of loving an enemy, turning the other cheek, and washing smelly feet is not an easy one. We are called to loose our life for Christ’s sake in order to find it. This requires a complete change of heart which only God can accomplish within us. The Psalmist prayed, “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”(86:11) To love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ is to live daily facing this contrast between the world, and the life we are called to in Jesus. He, alone, can help us meet this challenge as we seek Him in prayer, and yield to His guiding hand in the circumstances of life.
We always enjoyed exploring the rivers off the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. When going out of Sandy Point on the western side, the Bay is about four miles wide. On a clear day you can see across the Bay to the mouth of the Chester River a bit to the north. We would pick a spot on the far shore and head toward it. Sometimes the water was a bit choppy, and there were always crab trap lines to watch out for. One time we ran into a sudden downpour. But as long as we kept that spot on the far shore in view we would get to where we wanted to be. The image has an obvious analogy for life. We are traveling a distance measured in years. The path has its share of choppy water and obstacles. We have learned that our hope is in the Lord, and His truth is the way to life. Sometimes the way seems very clouded, we don’t feel that the Lord is near, and conditions of life don’t make sense. It is just at such times that we keep our eyes fixed on that which we know to be true. We keep our hope set on Jesus. We will reach the far shore.
Years ago (many that is) when I was in seminary, the faculty decided that the students should have more say in determining the courses they took. We always had a few electives, but they started allowing students to choose many of their core subjects. The problem was that most of us didn’t have a clue as to what we would need when we got into the ministry – even if we thought we did. The trend has continued in education in many areas, but young people need guidance. We all need guidance. We really do not know what is ahead in life, and what we will need to meet it. Youth (and the not so young) have always been headstrong in thinking that they know better, but human life is a complicated path to navigate, and none of us has all the answers. Life calls for a real measure of humility, and a willingness to yield to a wisdom higher than ourselves. This is a hard lesson to learn with many painful failures. Our gracious Lord never abandons us as we walk through life, and continues to hold out His guiding hand.