Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stay on the Green Line

Stay on the Green Line

Peggy Mack

August 21, 2013

This morning I recalled a commercial by Fidelity Investments which has become so familiar to the television viewer and I wondered, why is it that we readily accept its concept? Of course, we know, there is no magical green line to follow, but the suggestion is that if you are wise, you will invest with Fidelity Investments and they will help you through life as your money grows preparing you for your retirement.  My favorite part is the scene where the "new" investor walks out of the FI office and a green line, visible only to him, shows him the way.  The young man pauses at a car showroom window and admires a burgundy convertible roadster with white racing pinstripes.  A voice from down the street, the FI advisor calls out, "Stay on the green line"! 

My question I posed to myself this morning was, "Wouldn't the Christian life be so simple and easy to follow if we were provided with a "green line" to help us know, without any doubt, we were on the right path to Salvation?  Once we make our first commitment to become active in our faith, are we on our own with no sense of direction? The Good News is that we do have resources available for us.  God made them part of His plan to help us reach salvation and to follow Christ.  The questions are these: do we know all that is available to us as Christians and are we utilizing them to help us on our way?  I started making a list of a few ways I can assess if I am on the "right path" in my pursuit of a strong, mature relationship with Christ.

 Visiting with a Christian counselor or pastor is ( allow me some room here for imagination) like visiting a financial adviser at Fidelity Investments.  I go in to my visit with a Christian counselor with specific questions and am offered sound Christian advice based on one's training, knowledge, resources and God's word, the Bible.  Leaving the visit fills me with a sense of understanding and hope to keep my life "on track" and to "have a plan" that helps me live and serve as Christian in a world that so often seems far from God's desires.

In church or Sunday school I am advised to study, read, learn, participate and do good acts for others.  My intentions are good and my plan is in place.  I have a support group of mentors and advisers.  However, life and all its trials gets in my way and I begin to get sidetracked and off course.  How wonderful would it be to have a path well lit and easy to follow with others calling out to me, "stay on the path"!  I can do that by writing or calling or messaging a friend for advice or support and it immediately strengthens me and gives me the sense of confidence in knowing I am doing well in my efforts.

We have the responsibility of recommitting to our faith and being active in our faith on a daily basis.  We are responsible for our own choice to accept Jesus as our Savior and to follow Him.  Jesus then, as we are taught is "our light", "our way" or , if you allow me to compare Him as our "green path" to righteousness and salvation through grace.  We are invited to worship and serve God with others through the church.  The church is our support group as we face life's adversity.  Within that group are many people with different gifts to teach, praise, preach, encourage, listen, etc. and they become available to us when we participate.  God speaks to us privately in quiet times of prayer and meditation when we come to Him.  He enriches our understanding of Christian history and Christian life through his words in the Bible.  He blesses us even more through Christian writings of others who have been given the gift of reaching out through writing.  Our resources are endless.  In times of dire adversity, we are given the resource of prayer partners, those we know to understand and believe in the power of prayer and to willingly pray for our concerns and needs believing God works through those who are faithful.

 Finally, He gives us gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit that we can use as a checklist for ourselves, a self-inventory to see if we are walking in His light, following His path.  The gifts of the Spirit are listed in Isaiah.  Become more familiar with yourself and what you see as your gifts from the Holy Spirit. Those are the ones you can use to help others in their daily lives. The fruits of the Spirit are found in Galatians 5:22-23.  They are: love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  That's a wonderful checklist from Paul, one of Christ's disciples. to self-evaluate our daily actions. 

And conversely, Paul gives us a long list to let us know when we are far from the path.  He gives us a clear admonition in verse 16 of the same chapter.  "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."  He goes on with a list of places where we lose our way: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murder, drunkenness, revelries and the like.  Now I admit, "the like" leaves room for interpretation and the differences in these ranges in our laws from misdemeanors to felonies with life sentences, but the paths are clear.

We are taught, "God has a plan for us." We are given our own "green path" to follow.  It is the calling to be more Christ-like in the moments of each day.    For me, a renewed Christian anxious to pick up where I lost my way twenty years ago, I am grateful for the insight I have received today through several Christian mentors who I turn to read my words and to offer advice.  I read my devotions and always keep the Bible as my final, central guide. But ultimately, it is Christ leading me and I am following and learning as I go.

Finally, to assess daily our path walking efforts, I would add we should fill our lives with daily prayer and gratitude and a constant sense of all the tiny blessings we are surrounded by each day.  It seems with each new day of searching and learning and wanting to know more, I am filled with a deeper sense of gratitude and joy.  Are you feeling gratitude and joy even in adversity?  What a test of faith that becomes for us!

From one who has lived decades falling off the path through my own ignorance, weakness and need to be independent; this time, I am approaching my renewed faith with a search for knowledge and guidance and support from others and prayers that God will hold me strong.  I am making progress with Christ leading the way.  I celebrate each new day which gives me time to strengthen my faith as I journey forward toward a more mature relationship with Him. 

"Stay on the green line", although, a simple concept in advertising, is a wonderful visual reminder that faith is not a solitary journey but one with many checklists to help us self-evaluate our Christian life and to use the many opportunities of support available along the way as we focus on and follow our Savior.

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