On Sunday, Pastor Dave encouraged us to commit to growing deeper and going higher in our walks with God. Many of us posted that we would commit to doing so in 2017, and I think that is exciting! Hopefully you have been finding ways to stay faithful to that commitment. If you’re already letting it slip, don’t hang your head and give up. Just start today!
Something that was on my mind Sunday morning and that I’ve thought about quite a bit since is how risky growing deeper can be. Sometimes we think about growing deeper in our walks with God and following His lead like a dreamy dystopia. Everything will be bright and sunny as we stroll down easy street. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, we’re on a journey with God. But the goodness in a journey isn’t dictated by the roads travelled but the company with which you travel. When we follow God, He may take us down dark, scary paths. The roads will wind and bump and be treacherous, but it’s a good journey, because we’re with God. The Bible never makes any illusion to the contrary. God never promises an easy walk, a sunny, beautiful path, or a lack of danger. What He does promise is His presence.
When God was instructing Joshua to take the Promise Land, He never said there wouldn’t be dangers. He did tell him not to be afraid, though, because God would be with him. Joshua 1:8-9 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
It started with Joshua walking with and following after God. He was to be in the Word of God, reading it, and meditating on it. He was to be following it, and after God’s will for his life. And what does God say? Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid, don’t be troubled. Why does God have to tell him that? Because if Joshua was to look around at the circumstances God was leading Him into and surveying the danger, it would have been natural to be afraid. If God was leading him down a brightly lit path, free of danger, there would be no need to be courageous. But God does not always lead us down such paths, so He must remind us to be courageous and not be afraid.
But how do we do that when fear comes so easily? Well, have you ever walked a child through an area with frightening images or surroundings before? I have. Do you know what I tell my sons to do? Just look at me. Don’t look at this or that, don’t look around. Just keep your eyes on me. And it works! By focusing on my face, they see someone who loves them, someone they trust, and they do not have a chance to focus on what scares them. God gives us the same instruction. Keep our eyes on Him. After talking about all the dangers and disasters that befell people of faith in Hebrews 11, we’re told that we’re also to run our race, but we’re told to keep our eyes on Jesus. We don’t look at what happened to those great people of faith, we don’t look at what could happen to us. No, we look to Jesus.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
Grow deeper. Go higher. But keep your eyes on Jesus. Draw your courage and strength from His presence as you go.