Shown the path and lead

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“You will show me the path of life. In Your presence there is fullness of joy.” “You comprehend my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” “The Lord is my shepherd. He leads me besides still waters. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

All the statements above were voiced by the same man, David, the shepherd who became king, the beloved psalmist of Israel (Psalm 16:11; 139:3; 23:1-2). But he seemed to understand that the path of life, the paths of righteousness do not always lead into places we want to go. Sometimes the path of life, the paths of righteousness do take us through places where we are stripped of what we value … both people and things. Sometimes the path of life which He, our Father, shows us, is through the wilderness and winds up steep mountains. None of this is news to us … cognitively. But when head knowledge becomes life experience, in the midst of the harsh landscapes and the rocks and the heat of our paths we can begin to doubt what David spoke of with confidence – the One Who shows us “the path of life,” also leads us and in His presence we can experience fullness of joy, even when the path of life is difficult.  He does not just point out the path. He leads us and is ever present, even when we feel alone. He does not only give us instructions on how to navigate the darkness and the pleasant places (which sometimes can be more problematic for our intimacy with Him than the hard). He leads us all the way. Hear this truth in the words Joseph H. Gilmore, a hymn writer, penned more than 150 years ago, and be encouraged, fellow pilgrim.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Refrain:
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

NB. The prompt for this post came from Five Minute Friday, a writing community hosted by Kate Motaung.

Monday Vitamins: Joy

joyThis is week three of the Advent season. I searched various resources for a definition of joy but all seemed to come up short.  Then I found this quote:

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

And it helped me understand my dissatisfaction with the definitions I saw in the dictionaries and other resources; in those resources, joy was related to circumstances, as shown in the following example, “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” But we who accepted His gift of salvation know it is possible to experience joy in adverse circumstances, because of the reasons given in His written Word:

He is our joy:

Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God” (Psalm 43:4, NIV; emphasis added).

Joy is a component of the fruit of the Spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV; emphasis added).

And in God’s presence there is fullness of joy:

“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore”
(Psalm 16:11, AMP; emphasis added).

As we go through this week, may we do so with the knowledge that He is our joy, with a renewed awareness of His constant presence with us, and with a steady yielding to His Spirit.

 

NIV – New International Version
AMP – Amplified Bible