The Man stood in front of the tunnel staring into the darkness ahead. He could see nothing. He wondered where it led. “How long does this tunnel go?” The man asked the Train. “As long as it is” the Train replied. “I only run through it. I have no mind to know anything but that.” The Man considered it and asked again, “Then how do I know where it goes?” The Train looked at him questioningly, “Don’t you know? I only take you there!”
The questions surrounding our lives are infinite, but some stand above the others; Who am I? What am I? Why am I here? Is my life a coincidence or is there a bigger plan? What do I do? How do I know what is right or wrong? Why has this happened to me? These questions are questions we must ask at the crossroads of our lives. And at that moment we find an answer, a path has been chosen. Notice I said an answer, usually there’s no way of knowing what awaits at the end of the road until we reach the end. There’s either joy, peace, or satisfaction or there’s anger, regret, disappointment and frustration.
For the old, there are fewer crossroads left they have to face. They are at the end of the path they have chosen many years before today. Now, they either feel the joy, peace and satisfaction of those decisions or the painful pangs of regret. For the young, there are numerous crossroads before us to choose from. What will the end be? It won’t be long before years become months, and months become weeks which become days. Days become hours and hours become minutes until you can feel each last grain from the sands of time (you have left) fall. There’s a plot twist in this story you see, no one knows what that day will be. No one can tell when they would reach the end of their path.
I’d like to tell you that to succeed in life all you need is hard work. I’d like to tell you that no matter how many times you fail, you’ll succeed in the end if you persist. I’d like to tell you that if you dream big, those dreams would shape you for your future into what you’ll finally become. But instead, I’ll tell you that life is full of unpredictability. I’d tell you that dreams are not enough to light your path into the future. I’d tell you that hard work can go unrewarded. When everything you’ve ever known or done becomes dust in your hands, what do you do? When the things you live for are simply gone, what do you do? Your family, your legacy, your life-worth work, what you have perceived as your breakthrough when all that is most precious to you is gone, what do you do? Don’t just answer it, think!
Why is it important to think these things? It is because these are paths we have chosen somehow. Will the end be worth it? There’s no way of knowing. What if it is not? “This mindset is death!”, I know. But no two persons have the same lives to lead. That someone failed doesn’t mean you’ll fail, but it doesn’t mean you’d succeed either. You are you, not Thomas Edison who had to make the bulb 999 times wrongly. You are you, and you might not have 999 times to try either. So what would you do?
We all strive to be better people in life. We want to create a future for ourselves and our children, and their children if we can. We all want to be better people, we struggle and do our best to be the best version of ourselves. Best Dad, Best Mom, Best Sister or Brother, Best Friend, Best Lover. But we are prone to mistakes, we are not perfect beings even though we strive for perfection. How do you secure your future from such mistakes? How do we navigate through the mess we’ve already made of our lives?
Two scriptures I love, explain something so profound about humans. First is Job 32:4-9. While Job and his three friends were in an argument as to the cause of Jobs afflictions and sudden destruction, Elihu was present. He had been quiet from the beginning because they were considered the wise men of the society, but their age had not given them wisdom enough it seemed and this was the cause of Elihu’s anger. He spoke with wisdom and explained to them that they had neglected the most valid source of understanding; the spirit of God in a man. He explained that ‘wise men’ were not always wise – they too were prone to speak foolishly sometimes. But by the spirit that gives understanding and inspiration to man, wisdom was always certain. The second is Jeremiah 10:23, “O Lord, I know that the path of [life of] a man is not in himself; It is not within [the limited ability of] man [even one at his best] to choose and direct his steps [in life].”
There are other scriptures that say the same but I chose this two for their peculiarity. Job was seeing the end of a crossroad and he was wondering what mistake he had made to have met such an end. He had made sacrifices daily, asking forgiveness of God in case he had sinned without knowing. He offered on behalf of all his children should any of them have sinned against God. Yet he had lost all his wealth and children in less than 24 hours, that’s a real tragedy. ‘What had he done’ became the bone of his contention against God, because as far as he was concerned he had done nothing but righteousness. He asked questions like, “what has my righteousness profited me at the end?” Only very few people will refrain from asking such a question should such a thing happen to them, and not because “nobody can question God” as we always say in such cases. Job seemed to have a real cause against God, but was there no purpose in it? Like Elihu proved to the four men (Job and his three friends), whether God has caused evil to prevail or has caused good, is there not a purpose in it for our good? Jeremiah knew this too. He knew that without God as the North Star of a man’s life sailing in the dark sea of life, he was lost. So he asked, “O Lord, correct me [along with Your people], but with mercy and in just measure— Not in Your anger, or You will crush me and bring me to nothing.”
Whether we know it or not, deny God or not, hate him or not, God shapes us to the turnings of his will. Not for his sake but for our sakes. Who we are, what we are, where we are now or have been, or will be (situations or places); are fire signals from God, leading us and guiding us to the purpose of our lives, if we would at last turn to them. Life otherwise has no meaning, and we can find no freedom. We often sell ourselves to our pleasures to buy freedom but there’s no real freedom there, is there? No, we are not puppets even though we are his creation. He (God) will not force you to make those turns, nor will he be responsible for the choices you make but consider a compelling statement from our dear Elihu, “What profit is it to God if you are righteous? What profit is it to him if you sin? Your righteousness is beneficial to other men (and yourself), and your sin is oppressive to others, not God.” (Paraphrasing, Job 35:3-9).
Like Job and Jeremiah, and every person who has come to love God or rather is loved by God; Your paths are before him, his voice is in the wind behind your ears. His light is before your feet, guiding your path in the dark ways of life. If only you will yield and not resist. We all know his voice, we know it is good but we are enticed too deeply by our prisons of pleasure to let go of our lives. We ride swiftly against the wind, filling ourselves with the ecstasy of the moment never thinking, “what becomes of this boat should an iceberg appear?” Life is too dangerous (and precious) to go through without sufficient knowledge. It is too short to go through guess around for what choice is right. God strives (far more than you) for a better future for you so you become the best version of yourself. We have deceived ourselves into thinking the best version we can be is just within reach if only we work hard long enough to take it. Yet we have also been told, “…that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers. And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified [declared free of the guilt of sin]; and those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity].” (Romans 8:28-30, AMP). God is making a call to you to come, and he will perfect you in his purpose, giving you the expected future, glory.
Jobs trial wasn’t a contest between God and the devil like the former thought (and maybe you have thought so also). It was God refining Job to become much more perfect. The easiest lesson to learn, no one is righteous except those who hope on God for his salvation. Job thought his sacrifices had purchased God’s blessings. He had thought that making a covenant with his eyes to ever behold a maiden twice had given him a secured place with God, but God in his mercy – though painful, showed him the vast difference between himself and the Almighty. God wasn’t petty as man was. Job was righteous because God had said him to be righteous, not because he simply did right. He had been justified.
Israel, unfortunately, did not learn early. God had to repeatedly lead them into trouble so he could save them from themselves. Because we are so full of ourselves, it sometimes takes a serious fall for us to watch where we step, God will allow that fall while preserving your soul so your feet can be planted on the solid Rock which is Christ.
What is going on in your life now? Whether you are pleased or not, God has placed you there for your sake. He has a purpose for your life, in every situation he has carefully lain out lessons to shape you into the glorious future he wants for you. If you search for his purpose in these things, you’ll find that each step makes you a better person. You have resisted God all this time, has that made you any better? “…blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.”
“A man’s steps are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” Proverbs 20:24.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is the beginning of understanding.” Proverbs 9:10.
“He who trusts in falsity feeds on the winds; and is like him who chases the fowls of heaven. He forsakes the way of his own vineyard, and errs from the paths of his own inheritance. He enters also into lonely and desert places, and into a land abandoned to thirst; and his hands collect that which yieldeth no fruit.”From Clarke
May the perfect work of God in you be complete. Shalom!