When we are on our way home,and we are not sure of the way, or even hopelessly lost, the best aids to reaching our destination are a road map and a mobile cell phone. The principle is the same for our journey to our Heavenly Father’s house, our ‘eternal home.’
The road map
‘The road map’ has become the catch phrase of our time. There’s a ‘road map’ for the Middle East, a bit tatty now, but still the best that desperate men can use. There are road maps showing the nearest way to the hospital, or the beach, or our own street. In the high-tech countries we can watch the road map on the dashboard of our SUV and it will even call out to us when we take a wrong turn.
There was a Jewish lawyer who described his road map this way: God is one and beside him there is no other. And to love Him with all your heart, all your understanding, and all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself – that is far more than any burnt offerings or sacrifices.1
The Lord Jesus told him that he was following the right road map, and the lawyer heard the encouraging words, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”2 You are nearly there!
We know where our spiritual road map can be found. It is in God’s word. Whatever our problem may be, there is a chapter in the Bible where an answer will be found. Matthew 6:19 to 34 is an answer to worry. Psalm 91 is a help when we enter dangerous territory. The better we know our road map the easier it will be to find the answers pointing the way forward. We have all seen the guy blocking the lane while he scrutinizes his map, and the traffic backs up, honking at him. If he knew his map better, he wouldn’t need to hesitate.
Brothers and sisters, we must read, read, read. That’s how we will become ever more familiar with our road map, and so find our way and not get lost.
I know you are going to ask: I don’t like the look of the road map. The way is too hard. It’s steeper than first gear can take. It’s rocky and full of potholes and road blocks. I see bad men hiding around the corner.
I ask you: what did Jesus do to deserve flogging, nails, thorns, vinegar? How could one of his own closest disciples sell him out? And what about his ‘baptism’ and his ‘cup’?3 Why?
In this life, if we get things too easy, we don’t appreciate them, and get to think that we deserve them and that they are our right. If we have to work real hard for something, then we will cherish it and value it. Ever since the way to the tree of life was lost and the gates of Eden were closed to dying sinners, we humans have been deluding ourselves that immortality was never really lost and we’ll live on, somewhere, somehow.
But the way back to Paradise is steep and narrow. God gave Jesus to be the road map: Follow me!, he said.4 And that way leads to the cross before it leads to the king’s palace.
The emergency line
What amazing technology is ours today! With a little machine in the palm of our hand we can call the world! But emergency calls must be dialed direct. Do we have a problem? Three pings on a button, and in no time at all we have police, fire-brigade, paramedics, with sirens blaring, racing to our aid!
But God does far better than that. He says: Before you call, I will answer.5
He says, Delight yourself in me, and I will give you your heart’s desire. Leave finding your way to me, trust me, and I will do whatsoever is needed. Don’t fret. Be still. Wait patiently. A little while and you will inherit the earth, and enjoy great peace. Your future is assured.6
As the going gets tougher, we need to start dialling some emergency numbers. And this is the answer we get from on high: I will never leave you nor forsake you. You are mine. And be assured, I am with you always, to the end of time.7
Set your troubled hearts at rest.8 Jesus told his disciples about the road map to the Father and the emergency help line. Thomas, the twin, was puzzled: we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus’ answer was clear: You know the way. I am the way.9 He gave them the emergency number: In very truth I tell you, if you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it you. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be complete.10
Brothers and sisters, we must pray, pray, pray. Yes, as the going gets tough, we need to start dialling some emergency numbers.
With all this in mind, what are we to say?, asks the apostle Paul. Ponder his reply: if God is on our side, who is against us? He did not spare His own Son, but surrendered him for us all; and with this gift how can He fail to lavish upon us all He has to give?11
This is the real message of the Lord’s Supper. This is why are here: what can separate us from the love of Christ? Can persecution, hunger, nakedness, peril, or the sword? Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12
1 Mark 12:32-33.
1 Mark 12:34.
2 Matthew 20:22.
3 Matthew 4:19.
4 Isaiah 65:24.
5 Psalm 37:4-5,37.
6 Hebrews 13:5, Malachi 3:17, Matthew 28:20.
7 John 14:1.
8 John 14:4-6.
9 John 16:22-23.
10 Romans 8:31-32.
11 Romans 8:35-39. [Scripture references are from my New English Bible, Oxford, 1961].