Last week I wrote about signposts that God places in our path. Some are not immediately obvious – like the supermarket checkout operator who made me realise how much God has blessed me, and the clump of snowdrops in a neighbour’s garden that spoke to me of several things. Other signposts are more obvious, but just as easy to miss. God speaks to us in many ways, always providing directions for life. We can choose to follow His directions, or like the Children of Israel we can spend years walking around in the desert instead of being where God wants us to be at a given time.
There are times when we become so set on a course of action that nothing will divert us. We fail to see or understand that God wants us to pause, and sometimes pass the baton to someone else. Moses faced just such a challenge when God told him he would not be leading the people into the Promised Land. This meant giving way to Joshua. Thinking back to the snowdrops I am reminded that there are seasons in our Christian lives as well as in nature.
On occasions the instruction from God may be to stop, rather than just give way. Why does God ask us to stop sometimes? Usually it is because He needs to get our attention. Possibly because we have become too busy to find time to stop, and almost always because the one thing we have stopped doing is listening to Him. Moses provides us with an example of a man who never stopped listening to God – not after God caught his attention by setting a bush on fire. We often forget that once God got Moses’ attention a conversation ensued. It wasn’t one-sided with God laying down the law to Moses, although it does seem that God became just a little exasperated with Moses at times.
Listening to God is vital because life is full of danger. Following Jesus is especially dangerous. We have to be aware of the warning signs. Walk too close to the edge of a cliff and you may fall off. Stuff like this should be common sense but often it isn’t. Moses lost the plot when he hit a rock instead of speaking to it as instructed by God. Ultimately, this one act led to Moses not being the man to lead the people across the border into the Promised Land. Perhaps God should have put a warning sign on the rock; “Speak to this rock, but whatever you do don’t hit it with that stick you have in your hand!” There was no warning sign on this occasion because Moses should have known better.
There are signs all over our world. There are signs to tell us what to do and there are signs that tell us what we must not do. When navigating the Christian journey we need to look out for the signs, but we also need to be tuned in to the voice of God. Remember Elijah running from Queen Jezebel? He didn’t stop to listen to God until he was a safe distance from Jezebel. And what did God say to Elijah? He asked him what he was doing there. In other words Elijah had a wasted journey because he failed to ask God what he should do, and he closed his ears to God’s voice as he did what he thought was right, without any consideration of what God might have wanted. Does that sound familiar?