Imagine with me that we are enjoying a nice hike through the mountains on a beautifully sunny day. Intrigued by its mystical appearance, we veer off the main trail, to take a barely worn path in hopes of finding a magical destination. In the midst of enjoying the twists and turns we don’t even realize the day is being brought to an end as the hours away from the trail usher in the darkness of night. What once seemed a to be a pleasant adventure suddenly turns grim as we find ourselves lost; away from what we know and the safety of our marked trial. If only we had a map that would lead us and a light to help us find our way.
Often this imaginary scene is not so different from our every day life. We stray from the trail God has laid out for us and find ourselves lost and in the dark. Sin is enticing and lures us in to those things we know are not pleasing to the Lord. God is familiar with the human condition and its tendencies to wander, which is why our Good Shepherd protects, carries and leads us. (Isaiah 40:11) Psalm 23:1 reminds us there is nothing we are in need of with God as our Shepherd.
When we walk with God he offers a new life to us and invites us to live with the Spirit inside us. In Ephesians 5:8-10 he calls us to walk in the light of this new life: “For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light – for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth – discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.” We can’t stop there because Galatians 5:22-23 goes on to describe the fruit of the spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Life in the Spirit is more than moral ideals, but a real encounter with God as he exemplifies each attribute perfectly. As we dive into love we see that God is love and NOTHING can separate us from God’s love.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” – Romans 8:38-39
How incredible!! Once we belong to Jesus, nothing we encounter can tear us away from him. As we choose joy we are spurred on by Christ’s example.
“Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. –Hebrews 12:2-3
What an encouragement and challenge to us – a God who is joyful in all things that in him we might experience joy in every circumstance. The next week will continue to dive into the fruit of the Spirit – how they flourish in a life controlled by the Spirit, and how God perfectly models each one. As we follow him down the road he has marked out for us, the fruit becomes more and more evident in our own lives and less and less we are caught distracted and lost in the dark. My prayer for you this week is that as you come to know God better and walk in the light of new life your heart would respond with the words of Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”