A small boy was working a maze puzzle one day. He turned left, then right, making his way through this puzzle. He became frustrated when all of his work ended in a dead end. He flipped over the pencil to begin erasing back to the point where he felt that he had made the mistake. He wanted another chance to succeed in mastering the puzzle maze. Our lives are much like this maze. Each choice we make sends us left or right, and yes, at times those choices send us straight into a dead end. I remember cheating on these puzzles when I as a young boy. I would take my pencil to the finish line and back track, knowing that in reverse there is only one way and that would be the right way. I always thought it would be wonderful if I had someone who knew the proper route to take, then I would actually work forwards because it would be easy. These are two examples of working the same puzzle. As I mentioned our lives are much like mazes. Unfortunately, we can’t work our lives backwards so that’s not an option. However, we can sit in the presence of someone who knows the right route to take. God promised the Israelites that He would lead them and guide them to the Promised Land and through their entire life. From Genesis, in the beginning, God told us how to live in a manner that we could enjoy the fullness of life. The problem is that we are stubborn people. We don’t want some god telling us what we can and cannot do! So, we rebel. Our rebellion results in God removing His hand of protection from us. Today, our passage is in Amos chapter 5. God is warning the Israelites to follow Him and not take other routes. He even states that He will refuse their sacrifices and send them into captivity for their idol worship. In the midst of all of this gloom and doom, God offers another chance.
Seek good and not evil, That you may live; So the Lord God of hosts will be with you, As you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate.It may be that the Lord God of hosts Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
Amos 5:14&15 (NKJV)
As we are working this maze called life, we can choose to do one of three things. First, we can simply give up and not work the maze. Second, we can try to figure things out on our own, or finally, we can trust God to direct our path. Giving up is never a real solution, so let’s look at the other two. If we try to figure it out on our own, I believe we will be in the same place that the Israelites were in, facing captivity, pain, and the righteous judgment of God. Am I saying that God is the author of the bad things in your life? No, but I do believe that God removes His protecting hand in our season of disobedience. The Bible also teaches us that God chastises those he loves. I do think that God punishes us, or puts us in time out if you will. He loves us and wants the best for us, and when we step out of line he puts us in our place. Now let’s look at the final option, allowing God to lead us through the maze. He said back in Amos 5:4 “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live”. As we seek God, he will show us the difference between good and evil, and once we recognize the difference, we can choose simply to obey or not. The guess work in the maze has been removed. Now even with God telling us what direction to go we must still put forth the effort to go down the path. Just because we have God’s protecting hand on us and Him giving us direction does not mean the path will be easy. Daniel was obedient and faced the lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were obedient and faced the fire. Then there was Stephen, who was obedient and was still killed, but he also saw his salvation. I personally would rather know that I have God’s hand on me in the difficult times than to try life on my own. Today, God is giving us all another chance. Perhaps we have had to use the eraser a few times and have come to a place that we don’t know where to go next. God is waiting on you to let Him in. Life is hard and the choices are difficult, this is true. However God is giving you another chance to choose the right path, His path. Stop trying to figure it out yourself and use this second, third, or even fourth chance to let the master maze guide lead you down the path to the Promised Land.
Dear Heavenly Father, just like Israelites, we have often chosen the wrong path to go down. I pray that as you offered them another chance to get things right, that you will do the same for us. Grant us another chance to seek you, to seek good, and to be obedient to your ways. God, you know the path so lead us in your will. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ the Great Shepherd. Amen.