Posted 12 Jan 2018
I wrote my annual review of how we did in 2017 yesterday, so now it’s time to look forward at 2018’s annual motto. Sometimes I feel the Lord God impresses on my heart a word or phrase that seems applicable to the work I do here at Bible Cartoons. Often this impression comes at the end of one year, or the beginning of another.
The impression I have of what the Lord God wants me to focus on this year actually came to me in October 2017. I have been reminded of it quite a few times since then, and it seems applicable to me, Bible Cartoons, and our future in general.
Whereas I have received a sentence or short phrase in years past, this year’s motto is three words:
“Trust”, “Obedience” and “Direction”
These three words seem to be related to each other. Clearly if I try to trust God more, then I will become more attuned to His will, and thereby become more obedient to His will. That, in turn, will give me more direction to follow.
If I start with wanting more Direction, then choosing to Trust and Obey God’s leading (through the revelation that comes from reading the Bible, and through His Holy Spirit) will (hopefully!) provide that Direction.
The word “Direction” reminded me of a vision picture I had from God back in 2012…
A picture of a cowboy wagon (from Sun 03/06/2012)
I was sitting on the right hand side of a horse drawn wagon, of the sort seen in wild west cowboy films. Beside me sat the Lord God. I held the reins that steered the team of four horses that pulled the wagon. We often hear of Christian’s talking about “putting God in the driving seat”, so I offered to hand the reins over to God so He could steer us where He wanted us to go. What was a little surprising was that He said that I should keep hold of the reins and drive the wagon, but then God asked if I would be willing to follow His directions, and drive in the direction He told me to go in. I thought about that and after a while I decided that I was willing to do it. Immediately the Lord indicated that we should drive forwards along a dusty track. I steered the wagon along and presently we came to a viewpoint, overlooking a beautiful valley scene. It was lovely and captivating, and I was really glad that I had listened to the Lord’s advice and co-operated with Him, and driven along to the see this lovely sight.
I noticed a small village off to the left and I thought it would be a good idea to drive the horse-drawn wagon down the track and into the little frontier town, to get some supplies. That seemed to me to the right way to go; it was logical, reasonable and sensible. I felt confident that towards the town would be where the Lord would direct us next.
I was all set to start driving down to the town, when I remembered that I had just learnt a valuable lesson at the Lord’s hand: to listen to His advice. So I turned to the Lord, who was sitting next to me on the wagon and asked which direction He wanted us to head off in now.
“Turn around” the Lord said.
My heart sank. I didn’t want to turn around. I disliked the idea of going backwards the way we had just come. After all, we had just come from that direction, and I didn’t want to go over ground we had just covered. And (as a typical man!) I didn’t like the idea of going backwards – I wanted to press on to “pastures new”!
“Turn around” was the Lord’s uncomplicated, unthreatening, subtle, enigmatic, simple suggestion.
I remembered that I had JUST learnt that lesson in trusting the Lord, only a few seconds before. The Lord didn’t say anything else except “Turn around”… no explanation, no further suggestion or any other words. I was aware of a very vague, subtle expectancy in the way the Lord simply said, “Turn around.” He didn’t speak forcefully, He didn’t compel my co-operation, He certainly didn’t command me to obey Him unquestioningly, but I could sense that the Lord was HOPEFUL that I would simply CHOOSE to do what He said.
At this point I suddenly realised that I was at a crossroads (figuratively speaking) and that I could head off where my will, my spirit and my mind wanted to go (towards the town) or I could deliberately choose to turn aside from what seemed like a good idea (to me) and do what the Lord had suggested. Although no time at all had elapsed, I was aware of the enormous mental effort it took to come to my decision. There seemed to be a vast and subtle spiritual conflict going on “behind the scenes”, which I was only very dimly aware of.
I decided that since I had JUST learnt a valuable lesson in obedience, I would swallow my pride; deliberately ignore what my human mind and experience was telling me to do, and “blindly” submit my will to the Lord’s will.
I turned the wagon around… and as I did so, I suddenly became aware of lovely, red-yellow sunshine warming my back. We turned and suddenly saw the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen. In front of us was a vast low plain of dry yellow grass, gently swaying in the warm, earthy breeze. Pale blue and lilac mountains rose gently in the distance. In the sky was a wonderfully warm orange-yellow sun, with dark ochre and sienna brown clouds hanging in the sky. The sky was vast, and full of mighty cumulus cloud (the big, round, well defined ones you see on certain days!) The panoramic view was truly breath-taking… This was what the Lord had wanted me to see.
If I hadn’t obeyed the Lord and turned the wagon around, I would have missed this stunning panorama. I knew that if we had “gone my way” that would have been OK, we’d have arrived at the town and that would have been fine – no problem. But what was impressed into my mind was the fact that by deliberately choosing NOT to “go my way” I had seen this amazing sight. My deliberate obedience to the Lord’s suggestion had immediately brought the stunning benefit of this view to my eyes.
Not only that, but remember that the Lord was sitting right next to me, and therefore we had this unparalleled chance to SHARE that view with each other. It wasn’t just a lesson in obedience, which by itself would have been a valid and important lesson for me to learn. I realised that the Lord wanted me to obey Him so that He could SHARE His incredible creativity and creation with me. It was a humbling and delightful realisation that the Lord of Lords wanted to share His created world with me. It wasn’t merely a sterile lesson of “obey me because I know what’s best for you – do it because I’m God!” The real lesson was one of TRUST. The question on the Lord’s lips was, “Do you REALLY trust me?”
So what now?
My obedience to the words of God in the vision picture above proves that I trusted Him and in doing so, I receive God’s direction – where to take the wagon. I can see now why I was reminded of this vision picture so recently… “Trust”, “Obedience” and “Direction” (the three words of 2018’s motto) seems to hark back to this vision picture and is obviously as relevant to me, life and Bible Cartoons in 2018 as it was in 2012!
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