We all probably understand that time with God is important. Like eating healthy food, exercise, rest and paying our bills. The big however is that somehow “important” has often been downgraded to “good” as our lives play out. Time with God is good for us, we subconsciously think, forgetting the important part. We have it all under control, with or without Him, unless of course we have a bad day or a tragedy, then we sometimes call Him in.
We acknowledge Him and boldly say “Merry Christmas,” even in public venues!
We have all read and heard about those Israelites. They’re hard to believe. God opened the sea for them to walk right through, and not too long after they’re heating up the coals to melt metal to create an idol to worship. God was important to them. Until they got focused on other things. They got distracted and His ways slipped from their practices. We’d never do that, some of us think. We acknowledge Him and boldly say “Merry Christmas,” even in public venues! We believe we’re living the life, doing it right. Some of us are. Many of us don’t think much more about it.
What are our idols, even the ones we don’t understand we have, keeping us from? The benefits of checking in with God, being reminded of His ways by submerging ourselves in His Word, of partaking in our spiritual “daily bread” and of asking Him what to do before we’re stuck in the mud, are countless. This is why God got so upset with the Israelites. Life is way better when we have conversations with Him regularly, and He is our father and closest friend. But we choose things and activities over Him. That’s idolatry and we are told to not do it. It's even the first commandment. Truly, nothing is better than Him and He deserves all glory and honor. Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”
These unsuspecting voyagers lost everything as they were unwittingly led off course
Vigilance is required by all followers of Jesus Christ. It’s so easy to be lured away. He’s faithful to guide us, but we need to stop and be quiet to have the opportunity to hear his voice. He has so much to say: so many great ideas, so much comfort, so much hope, so much love. He wants to upgrade our lives by squeezing in blessings, and it’s often in that quiet place that He inserts opportunities for them.
God showed me how little I was settling for this last season, but I would have missed it if I didn’t stop and take some time with Him. Way up at the top of my “Before I Leave This Earth” List was my desire to travel across the USA to see some of the national parks. My kids have, all but one, left the nest and I had given myself an “F” as a parent having deprived them of this childhood staple to much of America and even the world. And I was bummed that it never happened for me, either. To me, the dream was a miss and I was disappointed. But one shrugs and life goes on. So I did.
Mid-summer, my youngest son mentioned that he’d like to see a mountain. A real mountain, not one like we have here in New Jersey. I had just had surgery and was running on fumes, energy-wise. But I had cleared the rest of my summer and early autumn docket expecting a need for rest and healing. I was praying later that week and this idea of actually going to a mountain came to my mind. It popped into my head, against all reason. 5,000 miles by car with a barely-healed scar on my neck seemed ridiculous. But God, He knows better.
When did we plan this? Never.
I have never before felt the earthly joy that I felt standing amidst the unfathomable glory of purple mountains majesty and even four presidents carved into the side of a mountain. This is because His ways are higher than our ways;
“'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,'”
declares the Lord.
'As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”