The Walking Stick

We are living in a brand new age in America. All of a sudden there are health food stores popping up all over the place, restaurants are adding vegetarian recipes to their menus and many people are spending more time in the produce section of the grocery store than ever before. And all of a sudden we find that when we are walking or jogging that we have company, and sometimes plenty of it. And this is not just a good thing, this is a great thing...unless you happen to be walking or jogging in an area where there are lots of “critters.” Where we live in Southern Illinois, there are many, many pet-lovers, and I think almost everyone has a dog. And in country-bumpkin territory, most dogs always run loose, which can occasionally be a problem. That’s why a lot of people around here walk with walking sticks for they are quite handy warding off a lively little canine critter who wants to nip at you’re heels. The story I have for you today is especially in honor of those who walk with a walking stick.

There was once a group of men and they were arguing about the best time of year to cut an ash tree stick to use as a walking stick. One man said “The best time to cut an ash stick is in the spring when the sap is rising in them because this makes the walking stick both strong but slightly bendable. The next man said “No the best time to cut an ash stick is in the summer because it is at that time that the wood is in it’s best condition.” But a third man said “No, the best time to cut an ash stick is in the fall because then the sap has matured and perfected the wood. They argued about it for a while, but then they decided to go see a farmer who was known for his wisdom and his knowledge about the things found in nature. So they found him and asked “When is the best time to cut an ash stick? The wise old farmer looked at each of them and smiled as he said “Now gentlemen, the best time to cut an ash stick is when you see it, because it might not be there the next time you walk by.”

And folks, in the spiritual sense this makes a lot of sense too. When we see “truth” we must snatch it up quickly and make it a part of our lives. Everyday the Holy Spirit is refining and shaping our characters through impressions, through Bible study and through learning from others. When we accept Jesus as our personal Saviour, He immediately begins to make us into brand new creatures and He does this by teaching us new truths month by month, week by week and day by day. And this is not a casual, incidental thing with God, the Bible brings out that this revealing of truth to us is of utmost importance to the Lord. It is what He thinks about and plans carefully for us. And when He reveals a new truth to us, He sees it as giving us a precious pearl of great price!

The Bible says a lot about truth. It says it is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. It says the word of God is truth. It says God regards those who walk in truth with favor and He blesses them for it. It says we should worship God in truth, serve Him in truth, walk before God in truth, meditate on the truth, and we’re even blessed with the gifts of the Spirit as we walk in truth. Also we are to esteem as an invaluable treasure the truths that God reveals to us. Right now God may be revealing a truth to you about how to walk and talk and live differently than you have been doing. You know it, you realize it, you’re certain of it, but maybe you don’t want to walk in that truth. Maybe you decide to brush it off and think about that “heavy” later. If this is you, the fact of the matter is, you’re messin’ with God...and you’re treating with a “take it or leave it” attitude something that God sees as precious. (Selah)

God has a history of consistently desiring to give us His most precious gifts. In Exodus chapter 25 it speaks of God’s instruction to Moses to build the Sanctuary. And the whole purpose of the Sanctuary was so that “I (God) may dwell among them.” (Verse 8) More than anything, God simply wanted to be with His people, just as He does today. So the Sanctuary was built and the Lord graciously allowed these people to see with their own eyes the shekinah glory of God rising above the location of the Ark of the Covenant. It must have been an incredible sight! And the people thought this was an incredible sight and an awesome first. But to make a long story short, as time went on they began to take this awesome privilege for granted. So you know what happened? Yes, God eventually hid the Ark of the Covenant away and no one has seen it since. Our God loves us desperately, absolutely and with a thoroughness that we cannot begin to realize. But when He sees that there are other things that take the priority with us, as a great Gentleman, He will step out of the way.

Someone once said “Jesus accepts us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.” Today we can’t see with our eyes the shekinah glory of God, and we can’t see with our eyes the “Cloud that leads by day” or the “Pillar of fire that leads by night.” But essentially we face the same decision the Children of Israel faced a long time ago, for we have the Holy Spirit gently saying “And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying This is the way, walk ye in it...” (Isaiah 30:21) Thank God for the conviction He sends our way because this means God’s not finished with us yet! Yet the time to respond to Truth is now! Because this precious wave of conviction will not tarry long if ignored. Father God, we thank You for loving us enough to send convictions our way that are designed to help us. Help us to embrace them and to not just walk, but run to obey them. Amen!! Until next time... don’t forget your walking stick! “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

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