Many people I know don’t go out with kids. And the more kids you have, the greater the chances you avoid going out. We have four kids, according the the prevailing theory, we should never go out. In fact, people told us when we had 3 that we would never eat out again. That certainly hasn’t proven to be true. We go out quite frequently and we have taught our kids how to act in a crowd. Depending on where we are, the rules are different. In a new place where they don’t know where we are going, they follow us very closely. If there are lots of people around, they walk close, holding a hand. If its a place we know, and there aren’t many people, they can run up ahead a bit. The same is true with God. The Bible indicates that there are times when we will walk behind as He leads. Other times we will walk side by side by with Him, and sometimes, He lets us run up ahead. Consider these verses:
JOHN 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
MARK 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.
ISAIAH 30:21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.
The trick is to know where we are expected to be walking. In Psalm 23, David walks in all three depending on the need.
- David follows when he needs rest and refreshment: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
- David walks side by side with God in times of battle and struggle: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
- David walks before God when he is anointed to carry out a vision: You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Not only do we need to know where we are expected to walk, but we need to make sure that we dont fall into the traps that can happen in each scenario. When we are following God, it is very easy to find that we are lagging too far behind. We can no longer see God up ahead and then we get further and further. Perhaps we stop to smell the roses, our eye catches something shiny, or we stop to talk to an old friend. But over time, we realize that we can no longer see God or where He is going. Sometimes my kids like to hang on me as we walk. Or they are so close that I trip as I walk. I love when my kids walk close, but at times, they can be SO close that it impedes what I am trying to do. Sometimes we are like that with God. God is working somewhere, doing something and has invited us to work with Him, but we are so focused on knowing Him more, being close to Him that we hinder the work He is doing.
This of course, is not to be confused with times of resting in Him, like Mary who was commended for sitting at Jesus’ feet. This falls into the “follow” category. Here I am talking about working with God, side by side as friends, doing the same work. Lastly, there are times when God says GO! He has given us vision and a task and sets us loose to go accomplish it. It is in these times that we have to be careful that we dont run too far ahead so that we can no longer hear Him giving direction from behind. It is easy to get so involved in the task God gave us that before long we are running so far ahead that we no longer know if we are doing the task right. It is critical that we are able to hear His voice when He has given us the gift of being able to run! Lets learn to be fluid in these stages, able to go from one to the other as needed. They are all about knowing what God is doing in our lives, and being sensitive to the Shepherd who knows what it best for us and when.