by Deonne McCausland
An interesting thing happened this spring. As the snow began to melt along my walking route, it became apparent that the trodden path upon which many had traversed for the long, long winter did not in fact match up with the intended, paved path hidden beneath the snow. All winter, trek after trek, one traveler after another, following along a marked road that was in reality, the wrong one. This struck me in a significant way, not because I was way off course (this time), but because innocently, unintentionally, I had spent an entire season of my life blindly “following the leader” (of sorts) assuming that I would end up in the right place. It felt odd to me to recognize the subtle ways in which I had been traveling off course.
I have a vintage compass necklace I like to wear, not only because it’s kind of quirky, but also because it reminds me of the importance of seeking deliberate, purposeful direction by something more sure than my own unreliable sense of direction, my fickle heart or my “gut” or even by someone else’s intuition (as wise as they make themselves out to be). It reminds me that while initially traveling slightly off course, might not make a huge difference for a short distance, the longer that I move forward even with a slight variance, I could end up in a very different place than what was intended – somewhere where I look around and ask, “Where AM I? How did I get HERE?”.
In today’s passage, the disciples asked Jesus how they’d recognize the sign of his return to them and of the impending end of the age. He doesn’t immediately answer the question with a specific identification marker, but tells them to “watch out” (NIV) that no one leads them astray. He tells them that there will be false messiahs, wars, famines and earthquakes, as well as persecution and hatred for his sake, even unto death. Jesus warns that during this time many followers will abandon or renounce the beliefs they once held (apostasy), and will betray one another, hating those they once walked alongside. There will be many (not just a few) false prophets who will lead many (not just a few) astray. And because there will be an increase in lawlessness (wickedness), the love of many (not just a few) will grow cold. This is a sobering reality and what feels like an all too familiar scene!
I’m moved by the hope of salvation in verse 13 for the one who endures. Jesus help me be one of the ones who endures to the end! Help me to stay the course and not be led astray. May I keep my eyes fixed on you and my heart in step with your ways. I believe
that the best way to do this is to prioritize God’s word in my life – to know it, to love it and to live it, being transformed by it. May I know the truth so well that I am not led astray by counterfeits (I’ve seen them out there, proclaiming self focused gospels, denying the human condition of sin and brokenness, negating the need for a saviour other than ‘self’) and may my love for you not grow cold. May your Holy Spirit be my compass and your Word the light to my path. Truly!
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.