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Is it Time to Choose a Different Path?

Here we are only a couple of weeks into the New Year. So, how are you doing? Are you already feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and ready for another vacation? Or are you ready to drive a stake into the ground, take a stand, and declare, “This year will be different! I will not give up, fade away, sit back, and wither away! I choose a different path that may be less trodden but take it I will! My current path is well worn but leading nowhere! I’m ready to step off the old and onto the new, and may God help me!”

Although I’ve never seen the movie simply called 300, the history upon which it was based has always intrigued me. The year was 480 B.C. The Persian army, led by King Xerxes, was the greatest the world had ever seen. Eighty thousand men rode on horseback or in chariots, and around them marched foot soldiers and archers beyond counting.

When they marched, it was said the ground trembled. When they ate, it was as though locusts had devoured all in their path. When they drank, it seemed that entire ponds were dried up and rivers reduced to a trickle. It took a full week for this colossal and terrible army to pass by the king in review.

After four years of preparation, King Xerxes set out from Susa to avenge the defeat of his father, Darius. He intended to conquer Greece, which at this time was not yet the shining empire it would once become. The quarrelsome Greeks were as much at war with each other as they would be with the Persians.

So it was that this super-army of perhaps 250,000 soldiers (Herodotus said three million) was opposed by a rag-tag force of 7,000 Greeks from five city-states. At their core, 300 Spartans were trained to stand or die. They were led by a 55-year-old prince named Leonidas, and they took their stand in a narrow pass, twenty yards wide.

At first, the Persians must have looked at this encounter as a simple mop-up operation, but for two days the unstoppable were stopped. Only after a betrayal did the Spartans find themselves surrounded, and when swords were gone, according to Herodotus, they fought on with their hands and teeth. Before their imminent death, they sent home this stirring message which became their epitaph: “Stranger, tell the Spartans that we behaved as they would wish us to, and are buried there.”

That little band of Greek warriors had no idea what was to come. They could never have known how their courage would trigger a surge of pride and inspire their fellow countrymen to eventually defeat the Persians, and within thirty short years, Athens became the most influential city the world has ever known. (Adapted from Os Guinness, The Call, 87-89.)

Dedicated and courageous, the 300 did their duty. They did not give up, fade away, sit back, or wither away. They chose a different path that led to greater triumph, even in the wake of defeat.

My question for you is this: Will it be said of you, “Stranger, tell our Lord that I have behaved as He would wish me to behave, and I am buried here”? For when you take a stand for Jesus, regardless of the immediate outcome, victory will one day follow.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Stop Seeking Clarity...and Simply Trust

I’m amazed at how some people seem to have it all together. They have their life mapped out, kids in tow, calendar organized, schedule laid out to the minute, and they just seem to know where they’re headed and how they’re going to get there.

If that’s you, fantastic. For the rest of us, however, we often lay out our plans and chart our course only to find roadblocks, detours, and setbacks. Life can be confusing and frustrating, especially when we pray for clarity but are shrouded in a cloud of chaos.

At the start of every new year, I pray for clarity. I pray for wisdom. I pray for God’s direction and guidance. I’ll say things like, “Lord, in this new year, will you help me see what you want me to see, so I will do what you want me to do?” If I’m honest, I like seeing more than believing. I like to know where I’m going, and I like to have a plan on how to get there.

According to Jesus, seeing is overrated. He blessed those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29), which, by the way, includes us. He instructed His disciples to follow Him, but He didn’t always tell them where they were going. This reminds me of Abram’s obedience to follow God, even though he didn’t know his final destination (Hebrews 11:8). At one point in the history of the Israelites, they were powerless against their enemy and simply said, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

The meaning of faith is to obey and follow, not because we know what to do or where to go, but because our eyes are on Jesus.

John F. Kavanaugh was seeking clarity for his future as he spent a month serving in Calcutta at the “house of the dying.” He tells the story of his first meeting with Mother Teresa where she asked him how she could pray for him. He replied, “Pray that I have clarity.” She simply said, “No.” When he asked her why she announced that clarity was the last thing he was clinging to and had to let go of. He commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, and she laughed: “I have never had clarity; what I’ve always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust” (The Word Engaged, 91).

In this new year of 2020, your way can and will be foggy at times. You won’t have all the answers you seek. You won’t always know what to do or where to go. Jesus doesn’t expect you to. What He does expect is that your eyes remain on Him.

Leonard Sweet points out that church culture has fashioned an addiction to safety and security. “If we cannot plot a future path with visible surety, then we cannot imagine God would call us or lead us down it. But the way of the cross is one of trust, and it is trust that leads us to obedience in following the Master wherever He leads. The path may be uncertain. But for the trust-casting pilgrim, the One we follow will never steer us wrong” (I Am a Follower, 125).

My prayer for you in 2020 is that even though you might not have clarity, you will always have trust. May your eyes always remain on Jesus.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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