long road

I like long vacations, long walks on the beach, long views from a mountaintop, and long dinners that are lively with conversation. I do not like long arguments, long lines, unpleasant tasks that seem unending, or extended periods of time when I’m frustrated or unsure.

I like obedience when others obey me, and I like having someone I trust to obey when I’m lost or threatened. I don’t like obedience when I am asked to do hard things or things I don’t like. I don’t like obeying someone that I don’t respect, and I don’t like obeying silly rules.

In a recent video I heard Beth Moore describe the Christian life as “a long obedience in the same direction”. Tomorrow I turn 56. In some ways it seems like a long, long time; in other ways some of those distant memories seem like just yesterday. God has been so incredibly patient with me as I stumbled through inconsistent obedience and chose detours that made my obedience harder and longer than it could have been. Those times taught me that obeying him is ALWAYS the best choice. There have been some times when I wasn’t sure what God wanted from me, and I just kept aiming forward until I understood the new thing he wanted from me and for me. Those times taught me that his timing is ALWAYS perfect. There have been other times when I was so distracted by my plans or preferences that I wandered away from him. The “sparkly” and “shiny” things of this life can draw me away from God just as surely as they capture the attention of a baby…and I have to eventually find my way back to the direction I know God is leading me.

Eastern shepherds lead their sheep; they don’t drive the sheep ahead of them. Jesus described himself as the “Good Shepherd”. If I can obey the one who has proven over and over that I can trust him, if I can follow him even when I don’t understand what I’m facing, I will eventually be able to see how all the “paths” of my past lead to where I am and to where he is leading me.

I have learned that my “short cuts” aren’t, and that racing ahead of God when I don’t know where I’m going is never a good idea. God has consistently proved that when I honestly ask his guidance, he gives it. I want my life to be increasingly characterized by a “long obedience in the same direction”. I want that direction to be the pleasure of my God, even (and especially) when that shifts to a slightly new direction.