A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5
A few years ago, I came home on my birthday and opened my garage door to a beautiful, new, baby blue Vespa scooter. On it sat a giant bow. I was so excited I jumped out of my car and proceeded to run toward the scooter. I suddenly realized, however, I had yet to put my car in park and turn it off. So as my car inched toward disaster I jumped back in, turned it off and started laughing. Once the excitement wore off, I realized I now was faced with a task I had long put off – getting my motorcycle license.
Since I was 15, I had wanted to ride motorcycles but my mom was fearful I’d kill myself. So here I was, 53 years old, and finally doing it. After successfully attaining that goal, my husband and I made a new one. We decided to do a long ride with the local Vespa Club out to Palm Springs, California. Taking the non-freeway route made it a 113-mile ride over a minimum of three hours. And as the ride went along, I held my own. Just before you drop from the mountains into the desert floor of Palm Springs, you’ll find a motorcyclist’s dream road. On a map it looks like a mess of squiggles. In reality it’s seven steep and sharp curves. Having ridden with the group for more than two hours I recognized the most experienced and safest riders. I picked one and decided to follow his line down the hill.
In motorcycle terms “following the line” means keeping an eye on the leader to see the smoothest, quickest and safest path along curvy roads. A few years later on a Vespa trip through the Alps, following our guide’s line was crucial as he was the most experienced rider of our group. And I certainly didn’t want to find myself riding off the edge of a cliff or smacking into a giant tour bus!
It’s amazing the people, some of whom we barely know, that we are willing to put our trust in. Yet with God, who has been with us from the beginning, we seem to struggle in following His line. He promises to make our way straight. He will make our ground level. Yet, we are the ones that decide to take a path all on our own.
We know better. Or worse, we just don’t think He knows what we really need. My youngest daughter was famous for going against my directives. I once found her, at 2 years old, standing up on the kitchen counter attempting to get a glass down from an even higher shelf. She had asked me for some juice and I had said, “no.” I turned my back for a minute. You see, she would explain to me, I just didn’t understand why she needed x,y or z. If I had only just understood her need better I would’ve apparently said “yes.” So, to her, that justified her standing up on the kitchen counter that day.
How many times a day do we do that to God? How many times a day do we tell God what He needs to do for us? Or how many times do we just think, “if only He really understood what I need.”?
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21
How many times have we thought our kids or friends or spouse or employees don’t respect us because they refuse to take the path you’ve laid out for them? You’ve tried sparing them from hardship and yet they still don’t listen. Now think how God must feel.
We are asked, entreated, implored by God via His prophets throughout the Bible to trust Him and follow His line. He knows the best, quickest, and safest path for us. The book of James has so many wise words about His path. It happens to be one of my favorite books of the Bible. Why? Because I like lessons to be clear. And James also makes it clear that when we learn what that path is, we need to hold steady to it.
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6
I’m thankful for that Vespa rider, whose name I don’t remember and I may never meet again, for leading me down that treacherous road into the desert. But I’m most thankful to Jesus, whose name I hold in my heart and on my lips, for leading me out of my desert and into a bright and beautiful path.