We went on a long family run recently.
At one point on the trail, we went underneath two bridges while cars drove fast above us. The loud noise it created was startling, distracting, and strikingly opposite of the serene path we stood upon. Yet, the scenery surrounding us, under the bridge, remained undisturbed and secure.
I told my oldest son, “This is what following Jesus is like.”
As we follow Jesus, He shepherds us onto a narrow, quiet path like the trail we followed that day. It’s diverse in nature with shaded and sunny places, uphill and downhill sections, and areas to rest along the way. Empty, wild fields and full, manicured gardens co-exist, and with every obedient step, we become more like Jesus.
However, we still encounter the world when we follow His voice, as we did the traffic on the bridge. The world will be loud, distracting, and strive to suffocate us from hearing His voice. Its pace is fast and rushing and focus is self-absorbed. It will tell us faster is more fun, more is always better, and that we are missing out on the adrenaline rush. It will attempt to entangle us in unnecessary arguments for the "sake of the cause" that push us into potholes of division, pity, and worry.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Matthew 7:13-14 ESV
And, when you've been walking a steady pace, being led by the unseen directional signs within your soul, the world’s booming invitation will feel shiny and enticing.
The overwhelming noise will offer escapes, false promises of fulfillment and freedom, but it will never satisfy. In fact, every single bite we take off this deceptive platter makes us hungry for more because only Jesus can satisfy the deepest longings of our heart.
When the world becomes increasingly louder than usual, this is our cue to deepen the quietness of our soul. Focusing upon who Jesus is supplies the courage and strength to take another step of trust in the same direction.
"The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
Lamentations 3:25-26 ESV
God created the seasons of nature and they are strikingly similar to the seasons we experience inwardly in our soul. Storms will come too (see Acts 27). Allow their force to produce alignment with God's will, and nevertheless, continuously persist on the same path despite the climatic changes shifting in and around us.
When we feel eager for something new, our soul is gasping for deeper intimacy with Jesus. So, we don’t sell pieces of our life to the world because the return on that investment is soul-sabotage.
Instead, we offer our hearts over and over again to our Good Shepherd who never leaves us alone. He will make our path straight while the drunken world drives all over the place.
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
Peter 5:8-10 ESV
His Way prepares our soul for eternity. And it is so rich and fulfilling - better than life.
So, keep on walking, friend. It is worth it, this I know.
For the world is tiring, loud and oh, so proud,
my soul is parched, dry, in search of clear skies.
I’ve made it to the end, seen it all -
what the world offers, loud and tall.
It doesn’t satisfy, nor reach,
the place crying out deep within me.
So, I hide myself again, back in our spot,
“Here’s my heart, Jesus, you’re all I’ve got.”
Remove another layer to deeper intimacy,
for only You can truly fulfill me.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
Psalm 63:1-8 ESV