As I was out walking today, I was reflecting on the painted footprints on the pavement (or sidewalk!).
In our town last year three of the small primary schools (for children age 4-11) closed and they opened one big new purpose-built school, to bring all those pupils and resources together in the one building. So about town right now, every few hundred yards when you come to a turning or a junction, there are painted footprints on the pavements. These are to keep the children on the right path from their old school to the new school building. To make sure they don’t get lost on their journey, they just have to follow the footprints!
And it just reminded me that Jesus leads, and we are to follow after him, follow in his footsteps…..
He leaves footprints, clear signs for us to follow, to make sure that we keep on going on the right path and in the right direction.
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16
Often, we start off on the right path and then we get side-tracked, we take a detour, we take a break and get comfortable or sometimes we even begin to get a little lost. But if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, listening for his voice, he will gently restore us. He will bring us back to where the good way is, following after him, where his yoke – being joined with him – is easy and his burden is light, the place where we can find rest for our souls.
The Holy Spirit is our guide and he does not bring confusion, but clarity – he is our conscience, and our counsellor.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
So, if we are watching and listening carefully, we will see and hear the warning signs that we need to pay attention to –
Are we walking in our own strength? Are we serving with our own motives?
We all remember the story of Martha, a friend of Jesus, living with her brother Lazarus and her younger sister Mary in the village of Bethany¹. She was hospitable and in a generous moment, she had invited Jesus and a crowd of his disciples to their house for a meal. Now she was so busy, trying to make sure all her guests were comfortable, and prepare a meal for everyone. Mary, however, had sat herself down with the guests and was engrossed listening to all the conversation and to Jesus’ teaching.
This is where things started to go wrong – Martha lost her direction and now she was on her own path! Martha wanted to excel as a hostess and she became angry that Mary, her sister, wasn’t doing anything to help. So she came to Jesus, surely, he would see what was going on and insist that Mary helped her with the work?
Jesus, though, had a different perspective and gently told her that she was worried about many things, when she had no need to be, a simple meal would have been enough. In fact, Jesus went on to say, on this occasion Mary had made the right choice and what she had chosen would have lasting eternal value.
The warning signs for Martha, that she was straying off the Lord’s path, were her resentment and irritation with her sister. Whereas she had started out with the desire to serve the Lord, her motives had become self-centred and self-promoting.
Our level of irritability can be an indicator of where we are spiritually – more time spent in the Lord’s presence brings peace, less time brings pressure!
The Lord is gracious and reproves gently.
Our knowledge of Martha does not end there – later we read of an occasion where she leaves her guests to go looking for Jesus and has a private conversation with him². This creates an opportunity for Martha to make a statement of great faith, declaring her belief in the Lord.
Martha should be remembered, for far more than her mistake, as being a woman of great faith!
Thank you, Lord, that you are the restoration man. When we come to you and confess our impatience and our selfish motives, you restore completely. You do not hold our mistakes against us, we are forgiven, and we are able to move on!
Psalm 37:23-24 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
soaringwithhim.com Recharge Wednesday, marygeisen.com #TellHisStory, link-up.
If you enjoy reflecting on God working in and through the lives of familiar or less well known Bible characters, then check out my ‘Books’ page – There is more on the story of Martha and Mary, in Snapshots of Service, People Watching, Chapter 9 – Service versus Devotion.