By: Elder David Leong
As I reflected on our congregational meeting today, I cannot but thank God for nudging us forward. Being part of this enterprise that God has called us to – to extend the boundaries of and to improve the functionality and efficiency of our built environment. We are put on a journey where the eventual goals in mind are clear, i.e. to facilitate and provide the physical environment for the building up of the spiritual community within and for the “…enlarging the place of His tent and to stretch forth the curtains of His habitations…” (Is. 54:2) [i.e. to extend God’s kingdom to those outside of our community]. But so often, the immediate steps, for those of us who have been called to actively help steer this enterprise, may not always be that clear. And yet, our faithful God does provide sufficient light for the journey. It has always been enough light for us to take the next step. So, we trust Him to light the way for the subsequent steps. We take a step at a time, knowing that God will somehow illumine the next move. Financially, we do not know for certain how we would be provided for eventually – but this we know, that, God’s work done in God’s way will certainly find God’s timely provision, all the way!
So it is also with the bigger picture of life. Following Jesus, too, is a journey. Our eventual destination in clear, i.e. conformity to the image of Christ and to be holy – although the immediate few steps are often not so. We often feel disoriented and confused in the midst of the journey. Will we ever be clear and sure of everything? I guess it will take a lifetime and meanwhile life gets really complicated. Perhaps it is like what John Newton wrote in his evergreen hymn, Amazing Grace, “…through many dangers, toils and snares.” And sometimes in the midst of all the confusion and the cacophony of different voices telling us which is the right way forward, we feel absolutely lost and miserable. In these moments of dislocation and disorientation, we need basically three things for this somewhat confusing and sometimes tumultuous journey to end up in the right direction: a map, someone to point the way forward and wisdom or discernment.
The map, we all know, is the Bible – the Word of God. It is the sure guide and has proven itself down through the ages. It tells us who God is and what He has done for us all. It tells of God’s utter faithfulness to His covenant people and while we were faithless and wayward, God kept His promises! He spared not His only son to redeem us. He loved us before we ever thought of Him. Knowing that God loves us and is merciful in His ways, we can be assured that He will accept us when we come before Him. Knowing that God is ever faithful, we can be assured that what He said He will do, He will do.
We also need someone to point us the way ahead. Actually, it need not be just a person and, very often, there are a number whom God may bring into our lives, at different points, to gently guide us along the journey. It is God’s grace as He sends His appointed ones to help illumine the often hazy and hazardous way to our final destination. We can call them spiritual companions. It is important for us to recognize and to learn from the spiritual companions God puts into our lives to guide us. They are often people whom we know but oftentimes, they can be through books written by people whom God uses or sermons/talks/lectures/lessons that we have had the opportunity to be part of. Treasure them as God’s timely guides to you for your journey.
As we mature in our walk we are also necessarily increasing in our wisdom or discernment. Those of us who can be counted as discerning or wise Christians are those who are obedient to the truth of God as revealed in the Bible, and who are growing and maturing in our faith. But it is not so much the pursuit of wisdom or discernment as it is the pursuit of God. We become discerning or wise not by focusing on wisdom / discernment as an end in itself, but by focusing on the person of God and the character of God. As we pursue God, seeking to know Him as He has so revealed Himself through the Bible, we necessarily grow in both wisdom and discernment. And this is not a pursuit that stands on its own in our lives. Rather, it is inexorably connected to others. We who seek to be wise or discerning must be committed to reading and studying the Word, to active participation and involvement in the life of the local church, and to living out the character traits of the Christian. In other words, we both “talk the walk’ and “walk the talk” as we journey on our way towards the final destination in the context of the community of God’s people and in knowing God (and not just knowing about God) through His written revelation of Himself (the Word).
As fellow sojourners on the way to the same final goal – to be conformed to the image of Christ (and spending eternity in each other’s company), let us take both the “macro” and the “micro” journeys as a people of God, a community united in Christ and walk the often hazy and hazardous immediate steps of our common journeys together trusting in His divine guidance and provision. We can’t be doing this alone as individuals can we?