I once read a true story of a man who got lost in the Amazon of Bolivia. The area is mountainous and of course pure jungle. The man was part of a tour group which obviously had guides but he decided to have his little personal adventure. Needless to say he lost his way and spent nine difficult days (and nights) in the rainforest. Fortunately, he was rescued, but he could easily have avoided it.
You may have heard it said that the world is like a jungle, and in many ways that is true. Life can be full of activity, rife with challenges, unpredictable and perilous. The presence of frustration, a lack of peace, consistent fear and yes the feeling of being lost are all indications that we may have drifted away from our own guide: Christ. He came to show us the way to live.
When Jesus was choosing his disciples he said to them, “Follow me.” Did it ever occur to you that he was speaking to us as well? He asks that we to live the way he lived because it is the path to peace and victory.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace, in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer—I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV
So having lived as a man, experienced the day-to-day challenges of life; the temptations, the trials, painful circumstances and all the negatives of the world we live in, Jesus said “I overcame” them all. He knows how to win in life and we should listen to him. Like a guide in a foreign country, he knows everything that’s ahead, so he prepares then leads us. The knowledge he has is infinite, his experience firsthand and the advice he gives flawless.
Now let’s bring it down to a practical level. How can we ensure that we stay on the path that gives us victory every time?
Here are a few things:
Read the guidebook and follow instructions
Anyone visiting a territory for the first time would consider a travel guide essential. You would want to know what to expect so that your stay can be free from inconveniences. Our guidebook for life is the Bible and it is essential. Granted we all know that God’s Word is important and have read it before. However, can we confidently say that we use it to guide every aspect of our lives? Does it guide us in our relationships, as parents, at work and in all the significant choices we make? If we leave some decisions to our own intellect, then like an overconfident tourist, we will soon find trouble.
When Jesus said things like give to those in need, forgive each other, love those who hate you, put your trust in God and abide in my word, he was teaching us the right way to live. Everything is for our own benefit and leads to a better life. When we read the Bible but live differently then we will surely lose our way.
Walk the narrow road
Most places tourists visit will almost always have numerous trails or paths. Following the wrong one can cause a lot of frustration and possible harm. Jesus clearly tells us to stay on the narrow road (Mathew 7:14). The wide road is easy, many people walk on it and do whatever they please. Staying on the narrow road means we listen to our guide even when he says what we would rather not hear. It can be a lonely place because few people walk there.
Every time we make the difficult but right decision we are walking on the narrow road. In the world we live in today it is tempting to conform because— let’s face it, no one likes to feel left out. Walking the narrow road is swimming upstream. To make it even harder, the vast media we are exposed to brings plenty of unsavory content into our lives. We do not have to consume it, we do have a choice. Sometimes the only thing that will work is using drastic measures. We need to cut out whatever causes us to sin; that is what it means to walk the narrow road.
Ask for help when you need it
I just mentioned the narrow road and said it is difficult to walk there, but do not forget about the grace of God. What we struggle to do on our own is made possible by his grace. When life gets challenging and you do not have the will or strength to live the right way, simply ask for help. Pray for the grace you need and it will come. Remember you were never meant to face life alone; you have someone very willing to help you.
If you have questions about your life, do not hesitate to ask as well. In my own experience (and according to the Bible) God always answers those questions— if we seek him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13). You will get your answer because God wants you to have peace.
Resist the urge to stray
Almost every tourist who ever got lost was drawn by some attraction; something exciting. Whether it was a beautiful natural feature they wanted to explore or simply the urge for a daring adventure. This applies to our everyday life as well. There are plenty of attractions and distractions that can get us off course. It could be the pursuit of wealth, overindulging in the things we like or maybe even getting involved in the wrong relationships.
Like the daring sightseer, we know deep down inside that we shouldn’t be going there but we do it anyway. At the end of the exciting experience we find trouble and regret our decisions. One thing I realize more and more everyday is that God is always right. If he says do not do it, we have two choices: we can either believe he knows better or find out for ourselves the hard way.
“Live exactly the way I tell you and things will go well with you.” Jeremiah 7:23 NET
Call for the guide when you feel lost
Although we may try our best to live the right way, sometimes we fail. We may not knowingly and intentionally walk off the path, we can just drift. It is easy for God to become secondary in our lives and not even know it. But as I mentioned earlier the signs that you may be going astray begin to manifest. Life will feel empty and dreary, a lot may go wrong and your faith in God will diminish. This is not a good place to be but at least these things can make us realize that we need to recommit.
When we put our focus back on God and walk the right path, things may not change immediately but gradually it will get better. Our joy will return, the peace of God will surround us, our faith will be strong again and circumstances will improve. We do not have to dwell on the wrong decisions we made, like the father in the prodigal son, God receives us with open arms.
“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20 ESV
Trust your guide at all times
Jesus is often like that guide who says, “Do not pass there” and when we ask why he simply replies, “Just trust me.” Many times God will not tell us why we should do things a certain way, in fact Jesus rarely explained in detail the benefits of following his instruction. God wants us to trust him, not ourselves, our ability or even our brilliant gadgets.
You may be surprised to know that many adventurers and hikers who have got lost carried several safety items like phones, maps, personal locater beacons and GPS systems. The natural elements can be unpredictable, and life can be unpredictable. That is why we need to put our trust in God alone.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
So what does our destination look like, what should we look forward to? The Word of God tells us:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
“Those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:20 ESV
…and the eternal destination
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:3 ESV
We can safely say that following Jesus’ guidance can only lead to good. It may not be easy but in the end it is more than worth it. So as you walk this journey called life I remind you to stay close to your guide and enjoy the trip!