Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, July 20, 2014

God's Perfect Path

If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it.” Isaiah 31:21 (GNT)

“Cooper, keep walking!” I sternly said as he veered to the right for the tenth time. My frustration yelled loudly to anyone listening. 

Our two energetic dogs, Cooper, a golden retriever, and Lucy, a terrier mix, spend long boring days in our house while my husband and I work. When I finally return home and mention a walk, they jump with excitement. Once leashed for their walk, they make a beeline for the door and suddenly we’re dog-trotting up the road. 

One afternoon following a stressful day at work, I tried to rush our walk. I longed to get back home quickly and rest awhile before fixing supper. But Cooper’s plans conflicted with mine as he strayed off our beaten path.

In the midst of this difficult walk I heard God saying, “Debbie, have you always stayed the path planned for you?” SIGH.

My dogs and I tread the same trail in our neighborhood almost every day. Fortunately our mile-long trek is on a sidewalk which helps prevent muddy paws and feet following a rain. This particular day I impatiently noted how often Cooper deviated off-course, especially as he chose to walk in the mud created from three days of rainfall. Lucy even tried to change direction several times. 

Continually both dogs “departed from the straight and narrow” way, getting their paws filthy. “Eight feet to clean when I get back,” I groaned loudly to anyone who might hear and sympathize with me.       

“I hear you, Debbie, and I care, but pay attention. You’re walking a living lesson and I want you to understand it,” God lovingly spoke to my heart. 

Putting aside my irritation, I finally began listening to God while focusing on the actions of my dogs. They swerved to the left, checking out smells, then swung to the right, marking their spot. At times they completely stopped to sniff the area. Other times my golden ventured far ahead of me until I reined him in. Occasionally they both remained on the path for an extended amount of time. Distractions, noises, and smells captured most of their attention, but leashes restrained them. Even though our walk took longer than my plans, God did not waste a moment. He used the time to illustrate a valuable life lesson to me.

Just like my dogs, I sometimes deviate from God’s plan for my life. Occasionally I’ve journeyed away from God’s perfect pathway, refusing to listen to His voice. Instead of jerking me back on course, He’s granted me choice. Allowing distractions rather than the Lord’s voice to seize my attention, I’ve prolonged my journey back to Him. With no leash restricting me, I’ve opened doors to possible danger. Even as I wandered, He waited patiently on the sidewalk for me to join Him.

Jesus used several parables to explain deviation from God’s perfect path. In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, He demonstrates in detail God’s way to rescue and restore us. He first told the story of a man owning one hundred sheep. When one wandered away, the man left the ninety-nine in search of the lost one. He didn’t return until it was found.

Next Jesus described the determination of a woman who lost one of her ten silver coins. She persistently and carefully searched her entire house until she located the lost coin. Saving the best story for last, He narrated the story of The Prodigal Son. 

     He said, “A man had two sons.” (verse 11 NASB)
     The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the inheritance.” (verse 12  CEB)
     After the father divided his wealth between his sons, the younger one gathered everything together and journeyed into a foreign land. He wasted all his money in promiscuous living, becoming destitute. Hiring himself out to one of the citizens nearby, he fed pigs and realized they ate better than he did. Suddenly he came to his senses and began walking the path toward home. His father, waiting expectantly, saw him off in a distance and eagerly ran to greet him.
     The son said to his father, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” (verse 18 CEB)
     But the father said, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate. (verse 22-24 CEB)

What happens when we stray from God’s pathway? Maybe we get muddy and dirty or possibly we get lost and eat with pigs. But if we come to our senses and return to Him, God will welcome us home with open arms. He’ll even throw a party! He lovingly reminds us in 2 Chronicles 30:9b, “The Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.” (NASB)

Hearing Jesus’ stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son demonstrate the love God has for his lost people. Because He loves us so, He waits with passionate patience for our return when we veer off His perfect path. 

My dogs and I continue to enjoy daily walks. Once in a while they get sidetracked and I get frustrated. After all, I’m only human and they’re only dogs. But I try to continually remember the lesson God taught me. No matter how distracted we get or how far we stray, He patiently waits for us to come to our senses and rejoin Him on the path that leads home. And if we listen closely to His directions for our lives, we may hear Holy Spirit lovingly whispering to us, “Here is the road. Follow it.”

     Thank you, Lord, for teaching me the way of life. In your presence is total celebration. Beautiful things are always in your right hand. (Psalm 16:11 CEB) 

No comments:

Post a Comment