Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Following God's Lead throughout your life

Following the Lead Car
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."” – John 8:12 (ESV)

A recent vacation to California’s Bay Area had me in a panic attack.

My heart pounded in my chest and adrenaline shunted blood flow to extremities as my mind instructed its body of impeding doom. My breathing became shallow and I was lightheaded. Yet there was no emergency. My husband was simply driving our rental car on Highway 101 in a heavy downpour.

Nothing scares me more than driving unknown roads in the poor visibility of winter weather. Fears of sliding in ice or hydroplaning on standing water compound with navigating unknown roads, lack of daylight and spray from other vehicles.

It would make sense to me if my fears in these conditions came from a traumatic auto accident, but they don’t. These panic attacks originate from my imagination. I’m in unknown territory and I envision the worst-case scenario, pulling from stories I’ve read or scenes I have seen on television. In essence, I’m making it up. I torture myself.

So, I pray. When not the driver, I close my eyes and focus on thoughts that are pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8). I breathe deeply, exhaling slowly with the intention of releasing all fear-based thoughts and feelings. I re-center myself with resolve in God’s goodness.

Of course, when I am the driver, I must do the same exercises with eyes wide open to the circumstances. I must still move forward, so I focus on the car ahead of me, using their taillights, speed and navigation as my guide. With a “lead car,” I can relax some, relying on information about the road I glean from how someone else is experiencing it.

Journeying through life is like a road trip. When the territory is familiar, the road straight and the weather is clear, I am at ease, enjoying the scenery. I sing along to the radio. I chat casually with those who are with me. It’s when the road twists or the rain pours that my full attention is commanded. Cruise control becomes harmful and casual prattle ends.

When circumstances challenge, when Deception says, “Success of this trip is all on you,” I know I am in trouble. It’s at this point I pray for a lead car to follow.

Jesus is the lead car. He came to save, inviting us to follow Him. He lived this same life we do with a perfect record. Being God, He knows the road ahead. He put himself ahead of us that we might see His light and take comfort in following.

It’s not God’s intention that we go through this life in fear. He tells us this throughout the Bible in verses such as Psalm 27:1 (ESV): “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

It is His will that we mature in faith. Storms are part of that process. Driving scared is part of that process. The New Testament book of James encourages us to consider our troubles tools of perfecting, so to have joy in the process.

According to James 1:2-4 (ESV), we are advised to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Ultimately, we travel not alone. There is peace and rest on our journey when we allow Jesus to lead. By following His light and repeating His ways, we too can be trustworthy, leading others to safety. Storms lose their power over us when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Author Bio:
Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

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