A beautifully constructed stone retainer wall, roughly four feet tall, kept the higher ground in place. Sets of wide steps built periodically into the bulwark provided passage to the park above where grand old oak trees and well-manicured flower gardens invited people to take some time from their busy schedule to relax and absorb the captivating view of the lake that lay further down at the base of the incline.
Living in the rolling hills of Clermont and Minneola, seeing the park on higher ground with an ornate retainer wall wasn’t in any way foreign to me, nor was the concrete pad poured at its base which served as a level walkway and bike path. There sat I.
Why on earth I chose to sit on concrete leaned up against a stone wall I have no idea. In the natural, that would not have been my seat of choice when soft green grass and picnic benches were plentiful just a few steps above me. But this was not the natural. Again, God chose to teach me something through supernatural vision.
I sat to enjoy the view and the warm sunshine. Birds chirped and playful dogs barked. The air offered the smell of gardenias from nearby blooms. I never cease to be amazed by God’s creative handiwork, and always feel closer to Him outdoors than in.
My peripheral vision soon picked up on someone approaching me from the grassy area above my head. I turned, looking slightly upward, and saw from about the knees down who I instantly knew was Jesus. The white robe and sandaled feet assured me this was no ordinary person on an ordinary stroll in the park. Stopping on my left where but one more step would have been the four foot drop to my level, He knelt and extended His hand outward for me to take hold.
“You want to go with me?”
Quickly I turned, looked up and stretched my hand to reach His as I rose to my feet. “Sure, I do! I want to go with You!” Excitement overtook me as I asked Him, “Where are we going?”
His response another question, “Does it matter?”
Immediately I was back in the here and now. I had envisioned the scene, but with stark imagery that has not left me over these many years. The entire episode lasted probably less than a minute, yet has had life-long impact.
Too many times we sing songs like, “Where He leads me I will follow” or “I’m going with Jesus all the way” only to protest once we realize that might actually mean going or into a career or ministry we didn’t plan for. If it means leaving our home town, family and friends behind, we say, “No, thank you,” and rely on God’s grace to bless us right where we are. (Thank God for mercy and grace.) When the path gets a little rocky or the road too long, we are quick to take a new route. Sometimes we turn completely around and go back to the place He led us away from. Whether that be a location, ministry, career, or lifestyle – simply because we don’t like where He is taking us.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
This reaction is not only one of self-centeredness, it also reflects our lack of trust in God’s love for us. He has only good plans in mind for us.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11
Psalm 91:16 tells us He will satisfy us with long life – not depress or torment us with it.
We may not like every task or every stop along the way. Sometimes to get to our desired destination means driving through a rough area of town. We might have to travel a desolate highway where, if we let it, fear of what lurks on either side will override the peace of a quiet country drive.
And sometimes following God is the same way. But if we truly surrender our lives to the Lord, He will plant a desire in our hearts for the very place and the very people He leads us to. He will bring us to love it and our joy can be full even in times of sacrifice and difficulty.
God has taken me places that – quite frankly – I did not want to go. But once I got there, I knew it was where I was to be. It just felt (and still feels) right. More often than that, I have looked back several times to realize that a painful experience was what propelled me to a good place in life.
Very recently God has shown me other ventures I am to pursue that I know beyond knowing I did not come up with on my own. They will require long hours and carry, according to human knowledge, high risk of failure. Plus, they are things I just really have never had interest in and know little about.
Yet, the more I envision them, the more excited I become. I am now looking forward to this new journey as a great adventure. As to the risk? The safest place to be is in the will of God. If I follow Him, He will get me there. The only risk is when I set out on my own.
Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV
But even all that aside, the real question is how much do we really want to be with Jesus and to please Him? Do we love Him to the moon and back? Would we follow Him to the ends of the earth? When He invites to walk with Him every day, does our answer depend upon where He plans to take us? Does it matter?
Think before you answer, because I heard He’s going to church Sunday.
I’ll stand for thee, dear Jesus, though death my come my way
I’ll spread the gospel to the fallen here. But if it be thy will, Lord, to go across the sea,
Lord help me to be willing to say yes.
from Jesus Use Me written by Jack and Billy Campbell.
Till next time,