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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

You Can Say "No"

Happy Thanksgiving Friends! It feels so good to be back home in the wide-open spaces of the Pecos Valley… it is amazing how much one can miss the smell of cow poo and dirt! I have had my green chili fix and am enjoying the warmth and sunshine as well as my friends and family!

This summer, my parents and I were in the process of planning our week long, cross-country road trip to take me to Pennsylvania. Note that my family has never done a road trip vacation before! Mom left much of the planning to Dad and I.

He and I spent weeks researching which routes to take and where we might like to stop, things to see along the way, restaurants, hotels, etc.

We were thrilled when we found old battlegrounds in Lexington and Segway tours in Charleston! He and I began the process of booking rooms and activities in the two towns when (motherly timing) Mom walks in to see how we are coming along.

Excitedly we told her of our successes in planning and the great adventures that awaited… then she looked over our shoulder and her eyes rolled – that means trouble.

Leave it to a Mom – quickly, she pointed out that we were fixing to make reservations for Lexington, Massachusetts not Lexington, Kentucky and Charleston, South Carolina not Charleston, West Virginia. Both would have been way off our route! Needless to say, Mom fired us from trip planning and immediately sent the two of us out to buy a GPS. She no longer trusted our navigating skills!

In the past year, I have been struggling with the concept of an all-knowing God giving us a free will… how does that work?! A dear friend entertained this conversation with me recently. She pointed out that our lives are much like a GPS.

God knows the ultimate destination that He desires us to reach; yet He provides us the option of how we want to get there - or if we want to get there at all. 

Thanks to the Word, the Lord lays out before us a map and explains exactly how to get to our destination. Yet, Matthew 7:14 says, “...narrow is the road that leads to life, only few truly find it.”

Matthew 22:14, “For many are called but few are chosen.” I believe that all of us who have knowledge of Jesus are called to join Him on the journey – He desires that none would perish. But He chooses few… this is because you must answer the call first. A friend calls you multiple times to invite you over for a feast. If you never answer the phone… You can’t go. Likely, they will call and invite someone else.

The Lord cannot choose you if you don’t answer. When we answer, He shares with us His heart and desires and helps us live a life that ensures we will reach our destination (which I hope you know is, Heaven).

But, like that GPS, we get to pick how we want to get there. Can you imagine how many ways there are to get from New Mexico to Pennsylvania? Countless!

Enter man's free will: we get to pick the routes. The Lord doesn't script our journey. He knows that we will make a few wrong turns and detours. And I believe there are times in our life when we are faced with a Y in the road, and each path would be a good decision - neither one wrong! Jesus hopes that we will simply follow His directions; which still requires an act of our free will - to say "Ok, Lord! Take me that way!" 

The Ultimate Navigator gives us the directions but what terrifies me is that we can say “No” to the direction of the God of the universe. In recent months I have watched people I deeply love say “No” to Jesus: NO to God’s best, NO to blessings, NO to ministry opportunities, NO to a life of holiness, NO to the direction He is calling them.

The scariest part is that the Lord is ok with us saying No – He will never force anyone to live for Him. Often He will find someone else to do the job – the job He wants you to do. Or, like in the story of Jonah, the Lord will send discipline to redirect one’s heart to obedience.

Too many Christians veer off the path and decide to go off-roading. This is never safe… here in NM; off-roading results in a cactus in your tire, life-size tumbleweed attacks or a dirt storm. In PA off-roading results in dense woods in which one can quickly get lost and lose all sense of direction or worse yet, drive off a hilltop.

The path the Lord provides isn’t a scenic highway along the coast; it is a windy, narrow, up-hill road. But, along that road lie unspeakable blessings, peace that surpasses understanding, and “gas stations” to provide you with fuel to ensure you reach your destination. The paved road is much safe than your little detour.

My heart breaks for friends and loved ones who have openly said “No thanks God, I will do it my way.” They miss out on so much life – eternal life. They proudly and loudly live their “No, God, I will find my own way” lifestyle through social media; blending in to the world and yet still showing up at church on Sunday. In Revelation 3, the Lord vomits this lifestyle out of His mouth – it is disgusting to Him.

Roadblocks and warning signs are posted along the path for a reason, yet countless speed through them into dangerous territory where safety is no longer granted.

I challenge you to pick the narrow road. Yes, it is hard! But the crown that waits at our destination is beautiful. The pleasures of this world satisfy for a season but only lead to death. I pray for you an eternal mindset…. Living for Heaven. What happens on earth is what is weird – operating in the Spirit, living for Jesus – now that is eternal!

God wants to hear you say, “Yes, I am coming with you – I am going your way!” When God hears a YES, when someone answers His call, you are chosen. You are selected for great things, for blessings untold.

Sync your GPS with the Word of God. Does is align? You can always get back on the road…. You are never too lost that Jesus can’t find you.

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