#Article (Archive)

Exit only (Part 2)

Jul 20, 2011, 7:10 PM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

“And now I will show you the most excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31)

As we ply the highway we look for signs that will take us directly to our destination. There are numerous detours to make to the right or to the left, railway junctions to cross, even tunnels to go through, mountains to scale and valleys too - still in our bid to reach the destination we had set out for. We have to be attentive to the road signs not to go off track. We would have to follow them closely to be sure we will make it to the right exit.

In these days when you can navigate using GPS, there is no fear of missing one’s way, or getting lost. GPS will take you from one point to the other without much stress if only you take time to enquire how to get to your destination. It reminds me of when God, the Jehovah, led the Children of Israel through the desert without a compass. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in the front of the people.” (Exodus 13: 21-22) In that vast desert, without landmarks, it is amazing how they did not at any moment get lost. All throughout, God gave directions to Moses about the way to go.

So shall it be with us as we set out on our journey to the Promised Land. The way we should go is not unknown to God; He has put signs on the way to guide us and direct our paths. We cannot deviate from them and choose other routes and expect to arrive at our destination. God’s Word is “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path…” (Psalm 119:105) to show us the way.

Moses requested of God: “Teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you…” (Exodus 33:13) If only we would ask God to show us the way to salvation - the way to eternal life - be sure He would. Why? Because we are saved by grace and grace is a gift that we receive from God free of charge. It is not earned. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)

He directed the prophet Elijah to the widow so he could be fed in the height of a famine. He directed the first king of Israel Saul to the Prophet Samuel for his endorsement and anointing as king. He directed the Children of Israel through the wilderness for forty years, without the use of a compass, to the Promised Land. He can lead you on the highway to your place of appointment with Him, “who called you from darkness, into His marvelous light.” (1Peter 2:9)

“We all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;…” (Isaiah 53:6) Let Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life take over the wheel of the vessel you are driving thorough life with. Let him steer your ship into the dock safely. Not only is He able to, He is omniscient, meaning that He knows everything. Nothing is hidden from Him. He can read our thoughts before we even utter them.

His promise to us is echoed in the words of the psalmist: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8) When this happens, when we look up to the shepherd to lead the way along the hills and the valleys, we cannot go astray. The sheep that is guided by its shepherd is unlikely to stray into the wrong path; it cannot get lost. No never!

Sometimes when we stray from the right path unbeknown to us, we even don’t realize that we are off course and we seek to justify ourselves.  The Bible warns:  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Everything may seem to go on well; it may even look like we do not need direction to get to where we are going until suddenly we find ourselves up against a wall. Then we cannot retreat; we cannot go forward.  When that happens it means we have been relying on our intelligence, which sadly, can take us nowhere. We get the impression we are making progress in life; that we are advancing, when indeed we have been going around in circles.

There will be many exits on the way; yet not all the exits will get us to our destination. Every wise traveller will, prior to undertaking his/her journey, sit down to map out an itinerary – that is, how to get there. It will be foolhardy to just pack one’s bags and set off. We need to look at the cost as well. It calls for meticulous planning. That is what is required of us as Christians. Otherwise we shall be like the foolish virgins in the Parable that our Lord Jesus told His audience. (Matthew 25:1-13)

Ten virgins left on a mission to welcome the bridegroom but after a long wait, he finally arrived at midnight. As they braced themselves for the start of the ceremony, five of them found out that their lamps had run out of oil and needed to be recharged. Whilst they went about looking for oil, they returned to find the gate had been closed and that they could not gain entrance.

It will a sad day, a day of mourning – the Bible describes it as ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ to come to the end of life’s race only to discover that the road we have taken has no exit, that all our labour has been in vain.  

We exited our mothers’ wombs to start a new life on earth. We will make another exit after this earthly experience. Would it be a worthwhile one? Would we hear the Lord say: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21) The world is a place of temporary happiness; heaven provides eternal bliss. It opens up a life of peace and happiness in the bosom of the Father. Would you like to miss out on that?

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus recounted by Jesus in Luke 16:19-31, the two characters - the rich man and Lazarus - both exited this world but ended up in two different locations; Lazarus in heaven in Abraham’s bosom and the rich man in hell (the place of eternal torment). It was unbearable for the rich man and he wanted Abraham to permit him to send word to his kin through Lazarus so that there may be spared. “I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” (verse 27-28)  His request was not granted on the grounds that: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them. “ (verse 29) The rich man insisted that if someone from the dead should carry the message to them they would repent.  

Father Abraham responded rather emphatically; “If they did not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (verse 31)

Christ declared He is the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE and He rose from the dead. Would you listen to Him?