Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
In the mid-1800s hundreds of thousands of pioneers left the comfort of their eastern homes beyond the Mississippi River and traveled West toward what we now call Oregon. The result of those courageous pioneers is hundreds of miles of well-worn wagon wheel ruts. In some places the gouges from the wagons extend four feet deep in the rock. It became a symbol of being on the right path when your wagon wheels found the ruts for which to follow. And because they were so deep it meant your wheels would stay true to that path.
And there lies the idea behind “being in a rut.” A well-worn path that, in some cases, is a good place. So often, however, the result of creating those paths in our lives leads us down roads we long to escape. I wonder how many of us Christians find ourselves in a well-worn path that either isn’t to our liking or to God’s?
The last few weeks we’ve looked at ways Christians are expected to stand apart, be held to a higher standard, and stand resolutely with Christ, not the world. But for many of us that means climbing out of that four foot deep rut. The rut of going along to get along. The rut of living in half-truths such as only expressing love without truth or vice versa. The rut of an unintentional life. The rut of sitting in a church where you aren’t convicted or spurred to share the message of eternal life. The rut of any number of sins.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. Psalm 91:9-10
The Apostle Paul was in a rut. He followed half-truths taught by the Pharisees and then he, himself, passed those false truths along with a vengeance. It wasn’t until Jesus abruptly entered his life and yanked him out of that four foot hole that he realized his state. And when he did, he took the message in Psalm 91 to heart. He pressed on and on staying close to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He trusted that although perils would befall him it would not stop him from his mission. And thank God. Because he, like you and I, was just a man. A regular flesh and blood human. A person filled with sinful ways. Without his trust in God, without his life of intentionally following Jesus we wouldn’t have his wise words to guide us. He was like Jesus in a sense that God wanted us to have a fleshly example to model. Jesus clothed Himself in skin so he could endure our earthly life. And endure it with full trust in God.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. Psalm 91:14
Because He loves me just as much as He loved Paul, I know that I can live a bold life in the name of Jesus. I know that even when hands come against me or when words try to hurt me, I will receive the ultimate promised prize. And when we live a life in worldly ruts – cowering before our accusers, afraid of speaking our faith, staying in the shadows not helping pull our fellow travelers from the flame – we are saying to God, “I really don’t trust you to work all things for my good.”
The ruts we need to seek are the well-worn paths of the saints, not the sinners. The paths that Jesus has laid out for us are so clearly defined in His Word. We need to look for them as parents, as spouses, as co-workers, as sisters in Christ, as citizens.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. Psalm 91:15-16
We can’t do this alone my friends. Through praying in the Spirit (not the flesh), through Christian fellowship, good teaching, and constantly living with God just ahead of us as our pioneer guide we can accomplish everything He asks of us. And He will satisfy us with salvation and the glory of heaven.
Friends, what well-worn worldly paths are you living in? Is it your parenting style? Or maybe you’ve flipped the script in your marriage. Are you in too deep with equating your faith with your politics? Have you forgotten that God sees and knows every word you speak, every emotion that lies in our heart? Are you taking advantage of God’s promised salvation and disobeying Him without repentance? It’s time to stop in our tracks and look up to the edge of the rut. Stick out your hand and ask the Holy Spirit for a leg up. You can do it, we can do it. You are not alone.
Join me starting November 1-30 for 30 Days of Thankfulness!