Building things with minor assembly often times become more than we bargain for. Like the kids’ trampoline. I think it was almost an all-day project. Our cabinets came pre-assembled but took days to get installed. Most of the time I look at the picture on the box and then just put it together. Sometimes something is backwards and I just turn it around. If it is too thick of instructions I just look at the box and try on my own anyway. Reading instructions are very long and boring
I don’t know if I have an attention problem or not. There was an article in the newspaper on it but I never finished it because it was too boring. Sometimes instead of instructions you get a very, very cool picture and you’re supposed to try and figure out what assembly is supposed to be done. Assembly takes 30 minutes but it takes us three days. This is much like life. The Bible provides a guideline but there is no true instruction manual for our lives because there is a relational interaction between us and Christ to make the rest come together.
It takes seconds to read a guideline in the Bible but it takes a lifetime to fulfill. Have you ever hit a roadblock in life and wondered if you were supposed to turn and go a different direction or if God was going to get you through it? Do you sometimes hit a road block and sit in the same place for years never feeling you can get ahead? Have you ever felt every step forward sends you back two? Is what you are doing working? Do you feel like a failure? How come the Bible doesn’t have more clear stories and direction about barriers and path changes?
Especially because it feels like we experience more barriers and path changes than anything else. Let me tell you the Bible most definitely gives us tidbits for our lives, but the movie of our life is completely different.
Speaking of the Bible, major acts are often times minimized and very short. You don’t realize the necessity of the emphasis until much later. This is kind of like in our own lives. I don’t just say, oh I switched jobs. In reality after a job switch, I couldn’t eat for a few weeks, I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep, and the stress was unbearable.
I don’t just say, my wife and I had a baby. No sir it was major, the discomfort, no sleep, pre-birth, walking halls, the birth plan, and then the real birth. There was some pain, maybe some screaming and or threats, and then the prize. The child was born.
The point is, this is no simple feat. Yet it’s simply phrased, we had a baby. Many critical individualized instructions are not in scripture. The Bible provides a standard, but the real instructions come from the breath of the Holy Spirit. God recognized the missing link. First he sent Jesus to fulfill the prophecy and final biblical guidance. Then he sent us the Holy Spirit so we all would have the ability to receive constant interaction and daily guidance.
This interaction and daily guidance does not require any special prayers, any special rituals, any special standing in the church, it just requires faith in Jesus Christ with an obedient and willing heart to fulfill your purpose. The Holy Spirit guides us in all truth. The problem is how do we know when he is leading and guiding?
Acts 16:6-15 explains this well. Paul, Timothy and probably Luke were going from town to town spreading the gospel. They went to Phrygia, and Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. There are no details about the blockage. They didn’t see anything on Fox News or CNN. They didn’t say the weather was bad. They didn’t say people were out to kill them, but it was clear this was their plan and it changed.
Notice they had a plan and then discovered God had a different one. This isn’t a message of how they overcame the obstacle. It’s a message on how they submitted to the obstacle in obedience to the guidance of Christ. They didn’t speak to the Mountain to move. It wasn’t the faith of a mustard seed. The Holy Spirit blocked the path and they provided no detail as to why.
Simple words were said, instead they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. There were no details on this either. Can you imagine being in a situation where you don’t know which way to turn? Or it seems every way you turn it’s wrong? They sought Christ and pressed on. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas.
They didn’t say they were sent straight from Phrygia to Troas. Notice there was a process and individual stops. The direction they were initially headed changed multiple times with a purpose behind each change. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. They then started getting ready to go to Macedonia. Their obedience took them to multiple towns and cities, where numerous people were exposed to the gospel and saved.
Their call didn’t change but how they executed it required constant redirects. All of us are governed by God for a specific and unknown purpose or slightly known purpose. Does anyone ever get confused by that? This was a highly successful endeavor only because they were obedient. “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.” Proverbs 14:12-13 MSG.
An angel of the lord was blocking Balaam and the penalty was death. Though his intent was good, his heart wasn’t. We can soak in our sadness and wallow in our misery, or be distracted from the very thing and direction God has given us. Sometimes the blockage is God ordained. It’s one thing for your situation to be difficult it’s another when it becomes impossible. No measure of faith, no perfect act, and no perfect deed will overcome the obstacle in your life. Those obstacles are a designation from the Holy Spirit by the breath of God himself telling you to go another direction.
God doesn’t hate you. God is guiding you. Christianity is not a formula but a relationship. As with all relationships there is an interaction, and this interaction is with the ever living God. Prayer is essential. Knowing your partner is essential. This means spending time in the Bible, going to church, praise and worship as well as understanding the Bible and the Christian essence. The heart of Christ gets your heart to be led in unison with His.
So how do we know if the barricade is there because of Christ or not? This takes years of earnest pursuit and there is no formula, but engagement with God is a start. Praying to talk with God instead of expecting from God. Wisdom means keeping your eyes open to the big picture instead of expecting God to paint the picture for you. Reading and understanding the Bible not to have read a quota but to receive Christ’s essence. Remember we are called to be faithful not unstoppable.
This means being sensitive to Gods leading. Quit beating your head against the wall. Stop trying to make something work that isn’t supposed to. If you aren’t seeing breakthrough, it means it isn’t supposed to be broken. Be willing to change direction. “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” Psalm 37:25 NIV
Focus on righteousness and rest knowing you are not alone. “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5 NIV.
He is helping you and you can do it. His favor rests on you. Don’t lose hope thinking He’s not helping. Realize there is an obedience requirement. As you walk you will discover a barricade you can’t seem to get past. You may feel this today.
Take a deep breath. Look around and press in, then spot other paths God is setting before you. Change direction, there you will notice favor, peace, joy and continued guidance. Last but not least, leave the barricade alone.
Philip Lukens is the senior pastor of the Carr Community Church. To receive updates please enter your e-mail address below and click subscribe.
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