Friday, January 29, 2016

Walk in It

It was about 25 years ago when I heard God’s voice audibly speaking to me while I was with a Christian Counselor. The counselor had told me to envision God. I saw a dramatic robed man in flowing blue gowns seated on a throne of clouds surrounded by bright sunlight. There was no face that was discernable. But, a voice spoke, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it!'   It was loud and audible to me. I was stunned and asked the counselor if he had heard the voice. He said that he had quite clearly, but not the words spoken.  I did not know that this was directly from Scripture at the time, but later I looked it up.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).  God had spoken actual words of Scripture to me directly. There had not been any before or since. However, at that moment my life changed. I began a new walk with the Lord that had begun only several months before when I had knelt in the deep snow beside my car in a blizzard near Lake Superior. Let me set the stage.

It was 1990 and I had been serving as a hospital Interim CEO, charged with turning around a struggling hospital in the U.P. of Michigan. After two years of travail with 16-hour days and only getting home every second or third weekend, I was exhausted. Physically, mentally and spiritually I was spent. My work had left me bereft of even judgment. I was drinking too much and my moral compass was spinning.  Now, it was midnight in January and I was driving back to Wisconsin in a snowstorm along Lake Superior. I had on the only radio station I seemed to be able to get, Chuck Swindoll, a renowned Pastor/Teacher preaching on Insight For Living. He was speaking, it seemed, directly to me about a life off course and worn out with trying.  He said to repent of my own efforts and failures and to give them to God, receiving the gift of forgiveness and grace from Jesus Christ, who had lived and died on the cross for me.  It was then that God’s voice spoken through someone else pierced my hard heart. I stopped the car and knelt in the headlights, snow swirling around me. I received salvation from the living God in Christ Jesus. 

As I got back in the car, a warm feeling surged through my body. I drove in a seeming trance. I had been changed, transformed, although I did not fully understand what had just happened. I had begun my walk as a child of God.

Now I was sitting in a counselor’s office, having heard God speak to me directly. He was pointing me in his path of righteousness. He was saying, seek my Word in the Bible and follow me.  It was as clear a calling as the original disciples had received from Jesus himself along Lake Galilee. The remainder of the Isaiah passage tells the people of Zion, His chosen people, to throw away their idols and walk in His way. For me that was money, alcohol, women and work. It was realizing that I had been walking on the wrong path. I was now turning around, like the hospital I had served. Both the hospital and me were being made new, not any longer bankrupt.

Isaiah’s words were ringing in my heart. Jeremiah also said, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). I had come to a crossroads in my life, and I would now take the “path less travelled” as Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem. I would follow God.

It has been a winding and uphill trail full of rocks and full of light.  But God has said, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31).  Many readers are familiar with this powerful promise of scripture. It is the theme verse for many on this arduous walk of life in this world.  But God will direct our paths.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  This is the answer to walking in His way, trust God, hope in Him and He will do it.

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