When I was in elementary and junior high school, I participated in a program called Christian Service Brigade. One of the highlights of Boys Brigade was the hikes and backpacking trips all over the Cascades. I have some great memories from these trips.
On one of these trips, a hike from Rainy Pass into Stehekin, there was a point I got ahead of the rest of my troop. Trudging along the alpine trail on a bright summer morning was glorious. I could hear my friends behind me, I could hear the hum of cicada and then I heard an unfamiliar sound. It was like a small maraca that seemed totally out of place. I looked down and to right of my boot a few inches was a snake – not very big, but shaking its tail vigorously.
My one and only experience with a rattle-snake in the wild. I froze. It apparently was as frightened as I was as it turned and shot off the road with a few quick undulations of its body. The whole episode was one of those “time slowed” moments. What was mere seconds felt like ages. When my friends caught up with me, I was apparently white-as-a-sheet and had to explain the whole experience, while they all lamented that they had missed seeing the snake.
I got ahead of the pack. Usually we Americans use the phrase “getting ahead” as a positive, but there are circumstances when it is not – like when dangerous wildlife is about (I could tell another story about moose, too). And its never wise when we are talking about getting “ahead” of God, when we press forward without seeking His counsel, direction or guidance.
We live in a society that celebrates speed and honors the packed-out calendar. But in spiritual things, patience, prayerfulness and waiting are essential ingredients to a successful recipe. Without these disciplines, the good can sabotage the best, the reasonable can undermine the wonderful and hurry can overwhelm insight.
To be people of faith, we must trust that God is the God of time as well as circumstance. We need to plan and strategize to be sure, God has given us intellect after all, but we must not make the mistake of leaving God out of the decision-making equation. When we make decisions, do we consider the implications for advancing God’s Kingdom? Do we think about the biblical principles that pertain not just to specific actions, but the heart with which and the process through which these actions are done? Do we ask for counsel from others who think carefully and prayerfully, and actually plan to listen when they do offer a word of advice or perspective? Do we take time to pray with a listening ear, and not just in a mechanical or perfunctory way, believing that God desires to guide us?
The words of Jesus are pretty clear on the point of “getting ahead” aren’t they? He calls himself the Good Shepherd who leads us. He invites us to follow him. Then we don’t get ambushed by snakes on the path.
Pursue Christ – He is enough,