In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.”’ Matt 3 v 1-3
I read these verses again recently and the phrase ‘make straight paths for him’ really struck me!
How often do we pray that God would ‘open doors’ or ‘make the way straight’ for us? I know I’ve done that before. We have a decision to make and we want God to show us the right path, to make it clear what we should decide. After all God has a plan for us, right? Jeremiah 29 v 11-13 tells us this, tells us to pray and God will meet us. And there are many other stories and poems in the Bible written about the way God has looked after his servants. Even I have stories about times when God has given a very clear indication to me and my family about the way forward. But, I wonder whether this approach on its own is rather Me-centric. It focuses on my relationship with God, it can lead us to feel like ‘I’ am the most important person in the relationship and possibly, at times, my relationship with God is the most important thing in the world.
But what if we looked at things a different way. What if, instead of expecting God to make the path straight for us, we made the paths straight for HIM? What if instead of starting with Me, we started with God’s creation: the universe, this world and all its inhabitants. Created beautiful, wonderful, truly breath-taking, awesome, perfect; wrecked by humans, and humanity; God doesn’t turn his back on that like a petulant child, saying ‘You broke it, YOU fix it’. No, into this broken world He sends his Son, Jesus, and so begins God’s rescue plan for His world: the Church. A community of imperfect people, living as God’s word and Son tells them; joining in with God’s compassionate heart for the peoples he created; living as the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Into the Church God places me. Little, insignificant, single human being: me. The staggering thing here is: God loves me, he knows me better than I can ever know myself, better than anyone else will ever know me. I am insignificant and yet special, loved by the King of Kings! Suddenly in this picture we have importance, we can make a difference, and yet we are hopefully free from the paralysis that we sometimes fall prey to when ‘seeking the will of God’.
If we love God’s world and look for ways to make sure that the path we are on is being straight for God, or to put it another way, if we join in with his rescue plan; live out the community life God gave us called church and if our hearts are firmly set on following Jesus then the answer is YES unless God says NO! As long as what you’re asking isn’t immoral, unethical, illegal or anything else we know to be wrong. I believe God give us the desires of our hearts and he goes with us in the decisions we make.
Let me just tell you about some friends of mine whose lives are about to change massively because they believe in making the path straight for God’s work to be carried out. They have an 18month old girl and he has been working for the Government in London, not really seeing his daughter very much due to the commute from Eastbourne. For a while now he has been looking for a new job, in order that he can be a present Dad to her, in order that they can enjoy being a family. Now he has a new job, beginning in September, working for an organisation that supplies vaccines and other vital medical supplies to developing world countries. If this is not being part of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth I don’t know what is! The company is based in Geneva, Switzerland. This family (they have another baby on the way) are about to move countries because they have an opportunity to join in with God’s rescue plan. And there are many many other stories to be told of people moving hundreds of miles to do similar things.
If you are struggling to see where your path is, can I encourage you to keep on. Keep on praying, keep on waiting, keep on making the paths straight for the Lord, that His glory might be seen in your lives.
And may the Lord bless you richly as you wait on him.