Learning to Follow

The other day, I was following my husband to a friend’s car lot where we were going to sell our car, to my great relief.  I was happy to finally wipe the dust off my hands and the sweat off my brow in regard to the thing that gave me the most stress as far as preparations were going for Japan.

We pulled out of the parking lot with the understanding that I would follow behind my husband.  I knew the way there at any rate, but I just casually mentioned that I would follow him.

Following directly behind him, we continued down streets that I knew, got on the highway and I sped up, getting into the next lane allowing him space to get in front of me.

But he didn’t get in front of me.  He turned on his blinker to indicate to me that I was to get back behind him and in the exit lane.  I frowned.  Why is he doing this?

I got back over and followed him off the highway and turning onto a street that I couldn’t figure out why he was turning on.  As we were stopped waiting to turn, I made signs to him as he looked back in his rearview mirror.  Why did you get off the highway, I mouthed.  No answer.

He turned, I followed.  I was somewhat familiar with the roads, though I wasn’t sure why were going down them and how we would arrive at our destination using these roads.  Besides, the highway is more direct, I thought.

At one yellow light, he raced through and I had to stop.  I squinted my eyes following him as he pulled over to the side to wait for me.  As I was finally allowed to proceed and caught up to him, he pulled out in front again.  Eventually he led me to streets completely unknown to me.  I had no idea where I was, was doubting that he knew where he was and was completely dependent on him.  I had no idea how to get back where I came from, and no idea how to get where I wanted to go.

But as we were driving back roads, I suddenly recognized something in the distance and realized we were within seconds of our destination.  But how did he do that?  Why did he take this way?

I never found out the answer.

But I learned something.  Sometimes, the Lord takes us down unknown paths because we have to be dependent on him.  Had I just went on down the highway as the way I knew, I wouldn’t have even needed him or paid that much attention to him.  In fact, as I pulled over allowing him space to “lead” on the highway, I showed that I was leading in a backhanded sense.  But the Lord wants us to follow Him, to trust Him on unknown streets.  To trust Him in the way that He chooses to take us, as compared to what makes sense in our own understanding.  He will get us to our destination– we need not doubt.  He has His better paths, sometimes to teach us new ways and sometimes to protect us from danger.  Following is a choice.

Luke 9:57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

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Snowflakes and Blessings

Sometimes I hate the word busy.  It sounds like too good of an excuse, even though it’s the truth.  Busy, we’ve been busy.

Selling a car (PRAISE the LORD), moving out of our apartment and in with some great friends, cleaning and turning over keys to our old apartment, having a massive garage sale, planning visits with our friends and supporters in St. Louis, trips to LA to get our Japanese visa taken care of, the collecting of medical records to take with us, mail forwarding, etc., etc., etc., etc.,… you get the idea.

OH, and traveling half-way across the country with a 7 month old.  Who knew how exhausting that would be??

But, praise the Lord, He has been with us each step of the way– He has allowed us to take care of business, get what seemed like the impossible accomplished, and somehow gave us the endurance to make it through a few weeks of minimal sleep and extensive use of our mental and physical energy.

We are now in St. Louis, where I promised my dear husband that it would not snow in November.  However, snow is scheduled for the weekend.  I’m secretly excited, while at the same time commiserating with my tropical-blooded husband.

Yesterday, I spoke at my alma mater North County Christian School.  I shared the story of how the Lord began calling me to missions, in Mrs. Pugh’s Freshman Bible Class, some 15 years ago next month.  I shared how the Lord used me and other teenagers, who had not gone to seminary or Bible college, we had no PhDs, were not pastors or anything of the sort.  We were just teenagers with availability, a love for Jesus and a humble heart to be used of God in ways we hadn’t imagined.  But He did use us.  Praise the Lord, His glory and power was magnified as the Lord met us there and healed the blind, the deaf, the paralyzed, the possessed.

We talked about how Abraham was the first missionary– called from a land he knew (surprising how many people are called away from lands they knew in order to be used of God), who revealed the Lord to others as he went.  He was given an astonishing promise– land, generations to carry on, protection, fame… amazing benefits.

But, that wasn’t the point of the blessings.  The Israelites as a whole missed it… the purpose clause:
and through you, all nations of the earth will be blessed.

Abraham was blessed to be a blessing.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  It’s something we see carried through to Revelation, where all peoples of the earth are praising the Lord in heaven.

The Lord blessed Abraham, Abraham blessed others, Others bless the Lord.

The blessing is to end back in praise to the Lord as we imitate Him and bless others.  We bless others so that the Lord might receive glory– might receive the honor He is due.

When our focus becomes receiving the blessings of the Lord, it is easy to become self-centered.  It makes us focus on our privilege and forget (or at least make light of) our purpose.  The Israelites, consumed with the idea that they were the precious and chosen children of God (as indeed they were), eventually made laws to avoid associating with the very people they were to be a light and a blessing to.  They could have been used of the Lord for greater purposes than they were, but they incapacitated themselves by refusing to share the blessing.

So, especially as we head into the holiday season, we are challenged, as we encourage you to be challenged, to consider the blessings in your life.  And the things we are thanking the Lord for, consider how we might bless others through them.  To God be the glory!

We are blessed to be a blessing!