By J.R. Miller
The little prayer is singular, "You will show me the path." Does the great and glorious God actually give personal thought to individual human lives? We can conceive that he might direct the career of certain great men, whose lives are of importance in the world; but will he show common people the way? Will he guide a poor man or a little child? The Bible teaches that he will. He feeds the sparrows. He clothes the lilies. He calls the stars by their names. Then the Bible is full of expressions of God's interest in individuals. Jesus taught this truth when he said that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep. The 23rd Psalm has it, too, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He leads me."
Let no one think that he is only one of a crowd, in God's thought. Each believer has his own place, and is cared for just as if he were the only one in God's universe. God loves us as individuals--he could not really love us in any other way. He knows always, where we are--and what our circumstances are. God's will controls the smallest matters, and takes into account, the smallest events in each life. A Spanish proverb says, "A leaf stirs not on the tree--without the will of God." God's hand is in every event. We talk of the laws of nature--but what is nature? It is not something independent of God. The laws of nature are simply God's laws. Nothing takes place that is contrary to the divine will. Nothing--no storm, no earthquake, no cyclone, no tidal wave, ever gets out of God's control. Natural law rules in everything, and natural law is simply the power of God manifesting itself. This world is not controlled by chance, nor by any blind fate--but by him who loved us so much that he gave his son to die for us. W need not hesitate, therefore, to accept the truth--that God will show each one of us the path.
How can we have this guidance? If we would have it, the first thing for us is to realize our need of it. Some people do not. They think they can find the way themselves. They never pray, "Show me the path." During the past summer in Switzerland, two men who undertook the ascent of one of the mountains near Geneva, without guides or ropes or any of the ordinary appliances for safety. Their conduct attracted attention, being so foolhardy, and their progress was watched through a telescope. Soon the men were seen to be in trouble, wandering aimlessly over the ice. In a little while, one of them disappeared, and not long afterward, the other also was lost to view. A search party went out, and it was discovered that the first man had fallen into a crevasse, hundreds of feet deep, where his body was found. The other had fallen--but, more fortunate than his companion, he fell into the snow, and was able to crawl out and was found in an unconscious state.
It is foolhardy to try to climb the Alps without a guide. It is far more perilous to try to go through this world without a guide. It is one of the most assuring promises of the Bible that God himself will be our guide, not only in our mountain climbs, and through the dark valleys--but in every part of our way. But we must be willing to be led. God will not drive us, nor compel us--he will lead us. And we may take another path if we will. Many people do. If we would be shown the way--we must be conscious of our need of guidance, and must walk obediently in the path that the Guide marks out for our feet.
If we would have God show us the path, we must also trust his guidance. Sometimes we grow impatient of God's leading, because he seems to take us only along homely ways, giving us only commonplace things to do. We think we could do something larger, could make more of our life--if we could get into a wider sphere and have greater opportunities. Some people even chafe and fret, spoiling the lowly work which is given them to do, in their discontent with it, and their desire for some larger place and some more conspicuous work. If, therefore, we ask God to show us the path, we must accept his leading as it becomes clear to us.
The path may not always be smooth. It is the path of life--but the way of life ofttimes leads through painful experiences. The baby begins to live--with a cry, and in some form or other we suffer right up to the end. Sometimes there is inscrutable mystery in a particular trial through which we are led.
Heaven is the place where Christians will reach perfection, where earth's blighted things will develop into full beauty. The Christian will not be sick, nor blind, nor imperfect, there. There is comfort in this.
Does the agonies which we go through? Yes, he knows all. Has he then no power to do anything? Yes, he has all power. Why, then, is he silent? He has his reasons. Why does he allow the agony to continue?
We dare not try to answer our own questions. We do not know God's reason. Yet one thing we know--it is all right. God is love. He is never unkind. He makes no mistakes. What good can possibly come from our severe trials? We do not know--but God knows.
In one of the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are certain rooms devoted to the spinning of the finest and most delicate lace patterns. These rooms are altogether darkened, except for the light from one very small window, which falls directly upon the pattern. There is only one spinner in the room, and he sits where the narrow stream of light falls upon the threads of his weaving. "Thus," we are told by the guide, "do we secure our choicest products. Lace is always more delicately and beautifully woven, when the worker himself is in the dark, and only his pattern is in the light."
May it not be the same with us, in our weaving? Sometimes it is very dark. We cannot understand what we are doing. We do not see the web we are weaving. We are not able to discover any beauty, any possible good in our experience. Yet if only we are faithful, and fail not and faint not, we shall some day know that the most exquisite work of our life was done in those very days when it was so dark. If you are in the deep shadows because of some strange, mysterious providence, do not be afraid. Simply go on in faith and love, never doubting, not even asking why, bearing your pain in silence, and learning to sing while you suffer. God is watching, and he will bring good and beauty out of all your pain and tears. Just as truly in such experiences as this, as in the brightest and most joyous, can we say, "You are showing me the path." This very path which seems to you so dark, so hard for your feet--is the path God is choosing.
Then God's path is always the right path. "He led them forth by the right way." God never leads anyone in the wrong way. The path is steep--but it runs up the mountain of God. It may be rough--but the end will be so blessed, so glorious, that in its joy we shall forget the briers and thorns on the way.