Cuthbert lived on the northeast coast of England in the 600s. It is said that one night he was out in the fields taking care of sheep when he saw the soul of Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne being lifted up to heaven by the angels. He abandoned the work of being a shepherd and became a monk. Later he became the bishop of Lindisfarne himself.
Lindisfarne is often called the Holy Island because of the monastery that was there. It is a beautiful place where you can definitely sense God’s presence. It is a tidal island, which means that it is an island during high tide but not during low tide.
You can drive to Lindisfarne when the tide is low. You can also walk. There is a series of poles, placed about 50 yards apart, that lead you across the bay. They are that close together because of the fog that sometimes is so dense you can see only a few poles ahead of you. The poles are called the Pilgrim’s Way, and it is claimed that they mark the approximate path Cuthbert took to reach the island.
Although we cannot see them, God has put out poles to direct our path. He wants us to follow the path taken by His son, Jesus. And Jesus Himself leads us on this journey. He calls us to follow Him. He has and will direct and guide us every step of the way.
There are times when this journey is great and the direction is clear. Those times have not been in my life often, but they are there. Boy, these times are so special. I wish I could stay and enjoy those moments forever. And gratefully, I will someday.
Most of the time though, I have a hard time going forward. There are a number of reasons for it. Sometimes I can’t get out of my own way. Sometimes the fog is so thick that I feel lost. Other times the mud of the bay makes the way tough.
About a year and a half ago, I felt like I was in one of those tough times. I had just received a phone call from the search committee at First Church. At the time, I was the pastor of a church in Massachusetts. I remember the long walk I had after that call. I was stuck. I couldn’t see the next pole. I didn’t know where to go. To make matters worse, my emotions were screaming at me.
I knew that God was leading me to take one of three directions. God could be leading me to First Church. That was both scary and exciting on a number of levels. I remember thinking, “ Are You sure that You are talking to the right guy? Am I ready? I’d better find out more about this church.”
The second option was that God was going to use the interview process to lead me to another church. In many ways, this seemed more logical. It would be an easier step to take.
Finally, I realized that God could be using this process to reinforce my commitment and call to the church I was already pastoring. In many ways, I wanted this option. I love the people there and I so wanted to be a part of God’s plan for transformation.
I can’t tell you how many walks I took over those next weeks. I walked with one precious truth in mind. Isaiah 30:21 reads, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” I knew Jesus would lead me to the next pole. I knew I couldn’t see it, but I was sure that He could.
For a while, I walked in the fog, clinging to Jesus. I didn’t know which direction He would take me. I trusted He would give me the strength to go with Him. He always has, even when it is painful.
There are poles out there. They all connect. They reveal to us the path that Jesus has chosen to walk with us. Look for that next pole.