In His teachings, Jesus touched on many aspects of the Christian life. He shared stories and parables with His followers, and through scripture we have many important lessons on how we should conduct our lives as Christians. One of the most recognisable teachings from Jesus is how to pray.
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…’” (Matthew 6:9-10)
Jesus teaches us to pray for the will of God and for the everlasting Kingdom. The will of God is placed in this prayer before so many things we strive for and work for each day.
The will of God comes in this prayer even before our daily needs of sustenance and forgiveness, because it is first and foremost what we are designed to accomplish on earth. We are designed to honour God’s name, further His kingdom and seek His will. We cannot honour the name of the Lord and dismiss His will. We cannot build His kingdom without seeking first what God wants His kingdom to be like through us.
Think of a soldier gearing up for battle. The soldier puts on his boots, checks his supplies and reports for briefing. The soldier does not land in enemy territory and run out guns blazing. The soldier first learns what the mission is and then acts.
Our kingdom building, God honoring activities should be based on the same understanding. We can never hope to be the true hands and feet of Christ if we do not first seek Christ in the movement of these hands and feet.
Sometimes it is easy. Our will accidentally aligns with God’s will. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the vulnerable; those things are simple enough for the most part because we may recognise the need and feel compelled to help others by doing these things. It gets harder when our will is different from the will of God. When we want to go but God says wait. When we want to rebuke when God says love. When we want to stay when God says follow. We can be called out to do scary things, out of our comfort zones and then we are worse than a cement mule carrying an elephant in a backpack.
When our own will is broken, our true beauty shines through. We can never reach our full potential until we shine with the will of God.
This truth came to me in a rather strange way. My parents were avid divers and one day when I was a child, I came across a massive glow stick that was part of their scuba gear. My dad saw how curious I was about it, and showed me how beautiful the phosphor glowed once the little glass vial inside was broken.
Many years later I bought a tube of glow sticks for a birthday party and unfortunately they were really awful quality so their glass vials didn’t break and the chemicals inside never reacted to give off the mesmerizing glow that I so loved. I stared in disappointment at them, thinking how sad it was that their true potential was lost because the glass vials were almost impossible to break. This is when the thought came to me that the potential to accomplish such wonderful things for the kingdom of Christ is in all of us, but so often, we swap the will of God for the will of our own hearts. So many people go through life with only the slightest sparkle of their true potential because they refuse to let their will be broken.
I still think of the will of God each time I see a glow stick and often times I have found great comfort in this small reminder when I face great disappointments in life. The will of God is beautiful and true, and in the pursuit of it, our own glass vials will sometimes be smashed so the mesmerizing will of God can shine through to light the way for others.
My mother used to buy her fresh fruit and vegetables from a tiny grocer near the farm we where grew up. It was dark and musty, with fresh produce spilling out of wooden crates. In the middle of the store was the checkout counter, complete with a vintage till and scale.
I was fascinated by the scale, which still used a balance beam with shiny brass counterweights. I would watch as the grocer carefully added them until the bunch of carrots floated and hung suspended in space. I would race him to add up the collective weight of the dollops of brass. Mostly he would let me win.
It’s exactly this picture of a vintage scale that is used in Ephesians to describe the new life we have as Christians:
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” (Eph 4:1)
The word used for ‘Worthy’ is literally the same picture of the scale with shiny brass weights!
The idea behind this picture is that God has deposited a brand new identity onto one side of the scale for us, and now the calling of our lives is to increasingly balance that out in reality.
This is the great pursuit of the Christian life, as there are so many facets to our new identities and so many areas of our lives that have yet to be added to the scale. We encountered much of this throughout our Ephesians series, but this verse offers a neat summary as it continues:
- We have a new character (v2)
- We have a new sense of unity in relationship with each other (v3-v6)
- We have a new purpose (v7)
May your life steadily, increasingly, balance out the scale of these extraordinary deposits. May you see the scale raising slowly but surely until it floats, suspended in grace. May God’s hand continue to lift your side up as you walk in a manner worthy of His calling.
Of all the wondrous ways to travel the world, taking a road trip may be one of the simplest, but most rewarding ways to explore. Most of us have cherished road trip memories, driving to the coast with family for a December holiday or trekking to some small, unheard of little town for a friend’s wedding.
Another joyful road trip memory that may have been hiding right under your nose for a very long time is captured in the book of Psalms. As you journey through this book, you may notice a beautiful roadmap woven into the fabric of the story, and the undeniable truth is that God can be seen as a companion in this journey without fail.
The book of Psalms also provides us with a guide of the essentials we need for the greatest road trip ever as we journey to eternity. Here’s what you need for the journey:
Have you ever been on a road trip that you thought was going to be great, but then it turned out that your companions were not the best company after having to change a burst tyre, sitting in rush hour traffic and battling pedestrians and street vendors with superglue and coat hangers at every traffic light?
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers” (Psalm 1:1).
Importantly the journey through the book of Psalms starts with a warning to choose your companions carefully. While you cannot always choose who is on the same road, you can choose who shares your road trip snacks. We need to understand that our companions shape the experiences we have in life to a great extent. Getting frustrated when facing hardships on the trip does not necessarily make someone a bad companion, but we need to stay clear from the type of companions described in this passage of scripture.
We cannot control who comes into our lives, but we can choose to be good companions to everyone we travel along with and we can choose to spend time with companions who are good company for our souls.
Good coffee and sandwiches may cheer up grumpy travellers, but God understands that in your journey to eternity, you will need more than a caffeine kick to keep you going, and for our sustenance he provides his unfailing love.
“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psalm 37: 7-9).
God gives us an abundance of himself to sustain us through this journey. We feast and delight in the house of God and we are loved unfailingly by God who cares for us. To me, this is much better than a few take-aways soon forgotten because this promise of unfailing love is eternal, crossing time from the beginning until the last day that has been added to our travels.
On a road trip through the Northern Cape, our car radio decided to retire from broadcasting duties. So there I was, driving from Beaufort West (where the last of my companions fell asleep) to Swellendam (where the first one woke up) in complete silence. That was the longest four and a half hours of my life, proving to me without a doubt that we as humans, were not made for silence.
“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy” (Psalm 33: 1-3).
We need good music on our travels, not just to fill the silence, but because our hearts were designed to praise God and we have been gifted with the joy of music to praise God.
So on your journey, never stop making beautiful music to praise God; whether you are a worship leader in church or have the voice of a cat stuck in a drainpipe, we are all designed to make a beautiful noise for our Father, no matter what it sounds like to human ears.
A map (and a destination).
A road trip almost never follows the exact route we plot out at the start, but regardless of the route, we have an end destination in mind that forms the crescendo of the road trip.
In this journey, we are looking towards our final destination, our ultimate home in heaven where we will reunited with our loving Father for all eternity. Unfortunately, there is no roadmap or app that tells us, step for step how to reach our destination, but we know that God guides us and will welcome us home when he calls us to be with him in heaven.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).
How reassuring it is to know that we have a map for this journey that is trustworthy and true, and that although we may not know where we are off to next, God knows and he will lead us to the eternal pleasures where we never have to leave his side.
Perseverance (and patience).
Spending copious amounts of time in a confined space with others is in essence what a road trip is. In life, we spend much of our time getting into each others space; while waiting in line, looking for a parking spot or queuing for a bathroom stall when you’ve had a gigantic cold-drink at the movie theatre. To get through all of these moments we need to have perseverance and patience!
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27: 13-14).
On our journey, we often feel the effects of having to live in harmony with others in very close quarters. And while it may feel like your leg is falling asleep, or you are getting an elbow in the side every so often, we can take hope in knowing that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. We just have to be strong, wait on God and force a smile even if someone jumps the queue, because God wants us to be patient in waiting for his perfect timing.
On every road trip there comes a moment when you just need to pull over and take a break from the road. Taking a moment away from the trip gives us the chance to stretch our legs, rest a bit and gather perspective on the journey. God knows that we need to rest, and he keeps us safe when we grow weary.
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).
How wonderful is it to know that God will watch over us as we rest and that he will keep us safe while we sleep? Our God understands that we grow tired and that we need to regain our energy physically and spiritually and for the moments that we are at a pause in life, he will keep guard over us so we can regain our strength in him.
On a road trip we often get to enjoy spectacular views of places we do not see every day. Sometimes, the scenery is so marvelous that it refuses to be overlooked, but sometimes the scenery is elusive and can only be seen by those who take a moment to really look. This sums up the creation of God and man in the creation so beautifully.
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:3-5).
God created the mountains and the seas, the stars and the moon and every beautiful part of this world that we can behold, but the most amazing scenery in the most astonishing form can be found in the crown of the creation, in the people we encounter on our journey.
Often, we overlook the beauty of God’s image that can be found in others, but if we take a moment, and look with our souls instead of our eyes, we will find tiny reflections of God in mankind, placed only a little lower than angels.
Hopefully this guide will remind you of the goodness of God, the love he has for us and the companionship he offers on the road to eternity.
May your heart praise him in return as you notice the wondrous memories you have of God traveling with you throughout your own journey because he has always been there, and will always be there until you reach your final, ultimate destination in his kingdom.
This was a guest post by Chantelle van der Walt. She works in the publishing industry, and you can read more of her writing on her blog. Chantelle helps manage our Social Media, and is responsible for the wonderful posts on our Instagram account.