Run in such a way as to get the prize…. a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:24- 25)
Nearly All Roads Lead to Rome
In times past, all roads led to Rome, the center of civilization. These days, with advances in technology and transportation, people from every corner of the earth can access societal hubs of knowledge and culture with the smallest effort.
Generation Z are natural multitaskers. They know how to process things alone yet are super aware of what is happening around them. If you were born after Nine Eleven, you are uniquely prepared to navigate to the destination called Life.
The journey to Life is like a road race but we are not competing against people or pursuing knowledge. Dimensions of time and distance are also irrelevant. This race involves an intriguing web of revelation, perseverance, faith and obedience.
“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV)
I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding. (Psalm 119:32 NIV)
…Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV)
Signs of the Times
It is natural to question where we are headed when we cannot see past the curve in the road. Gen Z-ers are not bothered by blind spots. They immediately tap into GPS to survey the entire landscape. Likewise, God gives us spiritual pointers- Scripture, prophecy, dreams and visions, wise counsel, and open doors – to navigate around barriers and boundaries. Computers can fail, but God cannot because he already sees the future. He will move a mountain if necessary. These are some “signposts” commonly seen in dreams and visions:
A fork in the road gives us an opportunity to “hear” God tell us which way to go (Isaiah 30:21).
The ring around the mountain always leads us back to the starting point. After the second or third or seventh time around, we need no more convincing that it is time for change!
The bridge to somewhere is a bypass or time-saver. For example, the wrong turn that causes us to escape a multi-car pileup, or the chance encounter who becomes a life partner, or a failed interview that forces us to wait for a promotion.
The wilderness trail grows progressively narrow and veers off into the boonies or a desert with no other soul in sight. These are designated times we must travel alone with the Lord. Smart devices do not work on this trail. If we keep looking back to past comforts, moving forward will be difficult. (Israel yearned for the onions and leeks they left behind in Egypt). We must choose to trust God above the voice of the enemy who always tries to get us to quit the trail. God is with us and His Words never fail.
Then there are those bright lights, big cities teeming with life, beckoning us to take in their sights. While entertainment breaks are necessary and refreshing we must be ready when the Holy Spirit, our trusted Friend, gently nudges us on. Distractions hinder us from hearing God. He speaks to us whether we are listening are not, and He speaks about Righteousness, Justice and Life.
Detours can lure us off track and cause delay. For example: That fantastic idea that sounds like sheer genius but is not God’s Will for us. Charismatic personalities who convince us to leave our trail to join theirs. When we twist an ankle or stub a toe, we can limp on. However, real danger comes from bigger detours, such as deception, misplaced trust, a false prophecy or a compromising relationship. These can take us far off course, but the Lord does not let go of us easily.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)
Ever watchful, God sometimes allows us to discover safe boundaries by trial and error.
Roadmaps and GPS devices are beneficial when we read them correctly, and God’s Voice will guide us to our destination. Some find it helpful to meditate on Scriptures or worship, then: Stop, look and listen. Wait quietly.
When we are quite “disconnected” from other sources and worry, we can see the Holy Spirit work like a master librarian. He skillfully retrieves and brings to our remembrance Scripture, dreams, revelation or wise counsel from where they have been stored in our Spirit, to strengthen us and give us the direction we are seeking.
In ancient times, travelers journeyed together in caravans for safety because bandits often preyed on the vulnerable and the weak. We also face challenges on our trail. Dark clouds on the horizon are obvious to interpret, but sometimes danger comes in the smallest of packages. Murder hornets, mosquitoes, and viruses are not unlike the stinging words, bad attitudes, and offenses that sneak in to wound the heart.
As pathways converge, the road can grow crowded with family, companions and coworkers. Trail relationships are complicated. Without fail, stuff happens. Forerunners sprint ahead, some lag behind and others get distracted and quit. Covenant brings people together and conflicts part the best of friends.
The Apostle Paul and his friend Barnabas had such a sharp disagreement over John Mark that they decided to part company (Acts 15:37-39). Still, the Holy Spirit used them to spread the gospel on the different paths that they traveled. Some trails intersect again later to fulfill a common destiny or purpose. Others, like parallel lines, never meet.
God sees far ahead and warns us repeatedly when we are going off track, and dreams and visions are just one of the ways He might communicate.
For God may speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night …He keeps back his soul from the Pit,
And his life from perishing by the sword. (Job 33: 14-15, 18, NKJV)
We need to be armed for our spiritual journey, but runners cannot afford to be weighed down. Our Lord Jesus Christ is our armor of Light. Angels to fight for us as we pray, and our mighty weapons are the Word of God, and Praise and Worship. As we “put on Christ” daily, our strides will be secure with shoes of Peace.
The End of the Trail
Wonderful rewards await faithful runners. The Apostle Paul exhorts us to finish the race to receive the Crown of Righteousness (2 Tim 4:7-8).
Those who persevere through great trials or lose their lives for their faith are promised the Crown of Life. (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10). Even greater crowns are granted to those who help others to finish their race!
Let’s choose to believe God… He’s waiting for us at the finish line! Amen.