“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land” Isaiah 58:11 NIV
Guide – No man would consider climbing Everest without a guide. To do so would virtually guarantee suicide. Climbing Everest requires the greatest of preparation and planning, the best equipment and the most trusted guides. Crossing the Sahara differs only in temperature. Whenever men set out to travel dangerous land, guides are essential for survival.
You and I are on a journey far more treacherous than any expedition to Nepal or Tunisia. Our travel will take an entire lifetime. It will cover the ground where many, many others have died or been lost. And a good deal of our journey will occur in the dark. Don’t you think that it would be wise to have the best possible guide? Of course! But a guide is of no use at all if the traveler does not pay attention to the guide’s path. In fact, it is the job of a guide not merely to point the way but also to go out ahead, to test the glacier or the sand dune, to watch for danger and to insure safe passage. All we need do is step in the same footprints.
Since this is the essential simplicity of life, why do we find it so difficult to cross from birth to death? The answer is just as simple. Very few of us have learned to completely trust the guide. The Hebrew word nacha is much more than a word about giving directions. It is a word about following behind. That requires the one essential element of all faith: trust. That means that I move when the guide moves and I stop when the guide stops (just like the Israelites in the wilderness, not surprisingly). That means that I rest when the guide rests and I run when the guide runs. I mimic the guide. That’s all. I don’t wander from his path. I don’t decide that I have a better route. I don’t get impatient or frustrated about the pace. The guide knows. I don’t! He has been over this ground time and time again. I have only been here once.
What would your journey to Bethlehem be like if you only followed the Guide? Would it be the frantic intoxication of contemporary consumption? Would it be the raw tension of making everything perfect? Or would the journey be the slow plodding of a donkey, following a star? The practice you get on this journey to the place of His birth will set the stage for following Him for the rest of your life. Footsteps, not signposts.