The week-end before hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States, my pastor was in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. He and his family went for him to run in a 27-mile marathon as a requirement to qualifyi for the Boston Marathon. As a result of poor directional signage indicating the half-marathon route and the full-marathon route; he made a wrong turn and ended up completing the half-marathon course. Thereby disqualifying him to run the Boston Marathon and being unable to fulfill a promise to his daughter of running the Boston Marathon.
Many people are going through life following poorly marked or totally unmarked paths looking for happiness, security, love, acceptance, success, or approval. The path followed by many is dependent on the size of the house they have, position at work, size of bank account, number of friends, educational degree, and status in church or community. Eugene Peterson, THE MESSAGE, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians says it very well, “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others–ignoring God!–harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvest a crop of real life, eternal life.”
God has given us directional signs to enable us to successfully complete our race. It is the Holy Bible. It is prayer. It is the Church (the body of followers). It is our local church. Again, Mr. Peterson gives a good, contemporary interpretation of Jesus message to the crowds in Matthew: “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.’
“Has anyne by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion–do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.’
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers–most of which are never even seen–don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-iniative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Emphasis is mine)