Do you have one of those friends? The kind who goes on and on about a function or event, gets everyone to attend but does not show up on the material day? I heard people call them flaky friends; not because they have dandruff or eat cornflakes for breakfast. 🙂 (I know. I know. That was really bad but I had to). Point is, you never want to be that flaky friend
One of my university lecturers (an old man who had been forced into retirement but decided that he would leave whenever he wanted *rolls eyes*) walked into our lecture room on the first day of class and drew a signpost, labeled it “Mombasa, 485 km.” He explained that he would tell us the road to use and hope that we would end up at the bus station, or airport or train station in Mombasa at the end of the semester. I should probably mention that this was an advanced statistics unit is a Masters Degree class. So, that was DEFINITELY not music to our ears. What he was preparing us for, in short, was his detachment from the practical nature of the unit. He was telling us, “Guys, I will tell you nice stories about the other side and mention a few details about the journey. But do not expect anything more from me.”
These two: the flaky friend and the lecturer are nothing more than signposts.
The thought of being a living signpost has been heavy on my heart lately. Picture that sign on the highway: it directs people in regards to where they are from, where they are at and where they are going. As a driver or a commuter, you use that sign as a guideline; proof that you are headed in the right direction or an alarm that you are heading in the wrong direction and need to turn back/ sideways/ whichever direction you should be headed to. Signposts have ‘saved’ many lives. They have ‘caused’ you to slow down at a black-spot, navigate sharp corners and bends, avoid running into school children or even wildlife crossing the road…..because zebra crossings are not only for people. But despite all the good that a signpost does, it never gets to the destination. It just points you there.
I am not sure how to say this, but, I think that a good number of us would be signposts if Christ was to return right now. At least I know I would. One of the most tragic things is to live a lie and not ever realize that you are living it. We have become a people who read through the bible in search of revelation not so that we may know truth for what it is but so that we might share what we learn or discover. We want to search for truth that we may let the world know but live unchanged by that truth, forgetting James 1:23&24. We take in to pour out without letting this Word marinate our spirit and soul and bring about a transformative effect in our lives that is evident even before we speak. We praise and worship, dance, jump, kneel or even raise our hands at half mast just to get a ‘feel good’ experience and chock that up to God’s move when all we have is an emotional experience. We have exchanged the transformative presence of God for emotional outbursts that will only last us as long as our minds can sustain it. Because it would be better for people to see us ‘experience’ God and still leave empty than to actually experience God without any gimmicks; that would require that we stay still oft times and stillness is not charismatic, therefore it cannot be where we seek God. We share our life events, encourage others to be better, push them to be accountable, remind them to read the bible and pray every day, forgetting to mention that some of these life events have been won but it’s a continuing battle and we need to keep doing better because sometimes we still fall. We forget to mention that we are actually not accountable to anyone because we are always ‘good’ even when we are not: we are living in habitual sin but we repent and say amen and promise never to do it again so no one else has to know. We conveniently forget to admit that we have been sharing the ‘scripture of the day’ or ‘daily devotion’ from an app because that is as far as we go when it comes to reading the Word: it is not a habitual study but a bare-minimum duty that we fulfill on auto pilot or only because we don’t want to feel guilty. We omit the fact that our prayer life has been a task ‘on-the-go’ that is fitted into a list of to-do things just so we can say we prayed today, or because we have been anxious about the increase in car accidents of late, or because our bosses or teachers have been extra fussy and we don’t want to cross paths with them, or perhaps because sister or brother so-and-so asked us to MENTION them in prayer and we are faithful to do that only so we don’t have to add ‘lying to so-and-so that I would pray for them’ to the list of things that we have to repent for before asking God for whatever we need.
Some of us have perfected the art of living right as an obligation and not as an overflow or a response to a genuine hunger and thirst for God. We do right but that’s just it, nothing more. The truth is that we are stuck in works and do not even know it; the grace of God only kicks in when we need to repent so He can forgive us so that we can go to heaven in case Christ returns right now. Even in repentance, it is not a genuine response to the fact that our sin grieves the heart of God, but rather because the bible says that He is faithful and just to forgive us if we do, so we do. Oh, and also because our pastor or Sunday school teacher once taught us that God is our Father…..and you know how rude it is to ask for something before you apologize for all and any transgressions first.
1st Corinthians 9:24 – 27 (ESV)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Psalms 139:23 – 24 (ESV)
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
The apostle Paul spoke about bringing his body unto subjection. He talked of running the race and fighting the fight for the prize. He knew that he had to run and fight with a goal in mind. Otherwise, he would lose sight. They say that focus creates blindness. So if you know the prize of the high calling, for which you run, then any other prize will be worthless: neither the applause of men, perception, reputation nor prescribed works of service will suffice. But for this, the Holy Spirit has to be at work in us: searching, exposing, purging, restoring and leading. We can only lead if we are led of Him. It will count only if the light flows from within us, having transformed and done an eternal work in us that overflows to others.
And don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we can ONLY share after we have proof of our own transformation. Or that we need to be silent during praise and worship because any charisma is synonymous to nothing more than gymnastics. Or that praying while on the move is unholy. Not at all. All I am saying is that we need to switch off our phones, laptops, iPods, tabs, computers, televisions once in a while and ask God whether we are seeking Him earnestly, and if we are, if it is for the right reasons; whether we would still chase after Him if we were on a desert island with no one to share with, keep accountable, encourage, comfort, etc. Ultimately, the Word should lead us to such a lifestyle. It is the genesis and not just another tool that plays a supporting role for our works.
Be more than a signpost, run that you may obtain the prize.
Grace and peace fam!
PS: Feel free to join the mailing list to receive automatic reminders whenever there’s new content.