He Goes Ahead of Us

 I have an area within 15 minutes of our home that I have hiked and hunted many, many times over the past 30 years. I have explored pretty much every portion of the landscape and can quite easily find my way back to where I started .  I took a friend hunting with me there this fall and led him on quite a long, circuitous route through the area, sometimes walking on old logging roads and sometimes walking on game trails or pushing our way through some challenging downfall. I couldn’t help but think of how he was trusting that I knew where we were going, because he, having not been there before, didn’t. Sure enough, we ended up back at our vehicle (which always makes for a successful hunt!)  If you are going into a new area to hike or hunt, it really helps to have someone with you who has been there before and knows the terrain and can be your guide.  If not, be sure to take a map and compass or a GPS. 

     I was reminded of the charge that Moses gave to the new generation of Israelites that were about to enter the Promised Land, facing the nations that they were to destroy there as they took the land. He said to them: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.  “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed” (Dt. 31:6,8). The Israelites had just finished 40 years of wandering in the wilderness where God also “was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night” (Ex. 13:21).  The Israelites could be courageous and not fearful knowing that God would not only be “with them,” but would “go before them.”  Since God is “the Alpha and the Omega…the LORD God who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:7 cf Isa. 41:4), He has already lived in our tomorrows for He lives in the eternal present. There is nothing that can take Him by surprise. He never gets “turned around” or confused or has to come up with “plan B.”  And, having a complete knowledge of where we are and where we need to head, He, through the Holy Spirit living within us, goes before us and guides us on our pathway in life.
     David, who was very familiar with the ways of shepherding in the Middle East, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote one of the most loved passages in all of Scripture, Psalm 23, in which he refers to “The LORD” as his “shepherd” who “makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet waters…who guides me in the paths of righteousness…who prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (vv. 1-3,5).  A shepherd would go up in the foothills and mountains to prepare the summer pasture land, making sure there was water and that it was safe from the dangers of noxious weeds, predators, etc.  Then he would guide his sheep to those lush mountain meadows.  The Middle Eastern shepherd always led his sheep. He did not drive them as most often occurs in the west. That is the way of our “Good Shepherd” who, as the Apostle John wrote, “When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice” (Jn. 10:4).  In speaking prophetically of the coming Messiah, Isaiah wrote: “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth…”    (Isa. 45:2). 
     There is great comfort in accompanying someone who knows where they are going. You can focus on enjoying the journey and trust the directing of your paths to your guide.  There may be times when the unfamiliar surroundings are confusing, even frightening, but you can trust that the one leading you has a purpose for where you are and where you are headed. You can say with David, “But as for me, I trust in Thee, O LORD, I say, ‘Thou art my God. My times are in Thy hand’ ” (Psa. 31:14,15). David had confidence in his “Shepherd” who said to him, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psa. 32:8).  When we are doing as Solomon counseled, “Trusting in the LORD with all our heart and leaning not on our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledging Him, (then) He will direct our paths” (Pr. 3:5,6).  There will be difficult, confusing times when we wonder where we are and what in the world is happening and how we can find our way out of this mess, but, when we are trusting in our Divine Guide, we can claim the promise that the Apostle Paul, who also went through great adversity and turmoil, proclaimed: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Ro. 8:28).  And that purpose, as Paul goes on to explain, is that we might be conformed to the image of Christ (v. 29). We can have the attitude and outlook that Solomon wrote of in his “Book of Wisdom”:  “Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way” (Pr. 20:24 in The Living Bible).
     You may be in some unfamiliar territory in your life right now, and maybe even in a thick mess of circumstances wondering how you will ever find your way out. Well, put your complete trust in your Guide to “guide you in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psa. 23:3).  And, “if you can’t see His hands, trust His heart!”
 
 
                                                                                                            Forever His,
                                                                                                                Pastor Dave
 
 
 
 
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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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