Can you relate to this excerpt from The Four Gifts of the King?
Then the powerful voice rang out once more.
“Be still! Leave him alone.”
All the other voices stopped. All but the distant caller.
“Steward, follow my voice.”
Something in that voice lifted Steward’s despair and strengthened his spirit. Despite his exhaustion, he walked toward it. It led him off the path and through a thick stand of willows and thistles. The stickers poked through his clothes, and the willows snapped in his face. But he continued.
The voice led him across an open plain and up to the face of a very steep mountain.
What now? Was this another deception?
“I cannot climb this. This is too much to ask.”
“Steward, follow my voice.”
He leaned against the cliff face and cried out. “I’m exhausted! My strength is gone.”
“Trust me, Steward.”
There was an unmistakable power in those words. They resonated deep within him. “I will. I will try.”
Steward fixed the satchel and Quash close to his side and began scaling the mountain. Every time he lost faith or sensed fear, the voice came again.
“Steward, follow my voice. Trust me.”
On and on he climbed. His hands bled from the shale rocks and pine needles as he worked his way through steep, forested hills and up rock faces. His energy was almost depleted, but the voice grew louder with each footstep. He dared not falter. He looked up ahead and saw the sheer face of the mountain open into a cleft that offered shelter and a place to rest.
I can make it that far. C’mon, Steward. Dig deep.
He pushed with the last bit of strength to crest the ridge and go through a small opening at the entrance to the cleft, onto level ground. He collapsed, lying in the dirt, sweating and panting.
“I … I can go no farther. I am spent. Whoever you are, don’t ask me to continue. I cannot. I cannot.”
The voice spoke again. Only this time, it was square in front of him. Steward sat up with a start and looked around.
It is my mind. I have climbed all this way for an illusion. Wind through the trees.
Wait. He looked again. On a flat-topped rock, across from the little opening, Steward saw a small object gleaming in the sunlight, sending off rays of light in every direction. He pushed to his feet. Every muscle in his body protested, but with careful, deliberate steps he moved toward the strange object.
The voice came again ‒ from the object in front of him. “Steward, you have heeded my voice. Your journey has not been in vain.”
“Who … who are you?”
“Steward, I am your king.”
(The Four Gifts of the King, Morgan James Publishing, 2019)
You’ve heard of the warning, “Be careful what you ask for.” Sometimes we desire things until we understand the cost of acquiring them. Psalm 86:11 is a great example. It begins with the cry of the Psalmist’s heart, “teach me your ways, oh Lord.” Who couldn’t agree? Who of us has not cried out to God that He would show us, teach us, guide us and instruct us in the ways He would have us go? If we are truly followers of Jesus, how many of us deeply desire for our days to be marked with faithful footsteps following the paths He lays out before us? Teach us your ways, Lord! Show us how you would have us live, train us to be true disciples and followers. Is this not your heart’s cry?
The challenge comes in the second line, “that we may rely on your faithfulness.” These two lines are inextricably linked. To know God’s ways is to be led to a point of utter reliance on God’s faithfulness to us. How many of us would rather the Psalmist had said, “that we may rely on our skills, our wisdom, our abilities, our strength?” Or, “teach us your ways, as long as we can remain in control over our situations and as long as your ways don’t conflict too much with our ways of doing things?”
In 1 Corinthians 3:5, Paul reminds us that we plant, and we water, but we rely on God’s faithfulness to bring the increase. The journey of the faithful steward is a journey of trust, total faith and reliance on the ongoing, daily faithfulness of God. Walking with Jesus down this path will put us in situations where our only hope is in Him. Jesus continually put the disciples and such situations. The great heroes of the Old Testament showed their mettle not through their accomplishments but the extent to which they were fully surrendered to God’s ways, where the presence and power of God could work in and through them in impossible situations.
So here is our question: “Do we really want to follow God’s ways if it means abandoning the reliance on our own ways and being totally dependent on Him?” This doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing. To the contrary. Back to Corinthians, we are called to plant and water with excellence. Knowing God’s ways means being fully invested in God’s kingdom and fully surrendered to kingdom values. From this posture, God teaches us His ways, instills in us His values and places us in positions where He can use us in amazing ways. But they will be His ways, done by His power, in His timing, measured by His metrics of success, and for His glory. Are we ready to live our lives in this way?
In my novel, Steward found his way to the king through struggle and doubt, but he never gave up following the king’s leading regardless of where it took him. I encourage you to engage the same journey. Start by saying this prayer every morning for the next week:
Lord teach me Your ways that I may rely on Your faithfulness. I surrender myself to You fully, and believe You are my total provision for all I need to carry out the work to which You have called me. Strengthen my faith and keep my feet on the path of total dependence on You.
Your King is waiting.