Today’s excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love, is a discussion of the great Shepherd’s (Christ’s) response to the Shulammite maiden’s (His bride’s) request for direction in finding true nourishment and rest (see Song 1:7).
“If you yourself do not know,
Most beautiful among women,
Go forth on the trail of the flock
And pasture your young goats
By the tents of the shepherds.”
Go forth on the trail of the flock
After reminding the maiden who she is (most beautiful among women), the great Shepherd is now giving her direction, telling her to go forth on the trail of the flock. He is basically telling her to follow the path trod by the faithful men and women of God who have gone before her. These are members of the Lord’s flock who consistently walked in truth and joy, following a path illuminated by His Word (Ps. 119:105). Notice that Solomon’s father, King David, described this path as the path of life in Psalm 16:11:
“You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
In addition to King David—one who experienced great joy on the path of life that led him into the presence of the Lord—we can find many great men and women of the Bible who blazed a trail of faith for us.
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is often referred to as the Faith Hall of Fame because it lists several Old Testament saints who had one thing in common—they trusted and believed God. We find the definition of faith in the opening verse of the chapter: “Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it” (Heb. 11:1 NCV).
Let’s zoom in on the last part of that definition—knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. Even though we have never laid eyes on the resurrected Jesus, we know that He is real, that His Spirit lives in us, and that He can be completely relied on. I love the definition for faith found in 2 Timothy 1:5 in the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition:
the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness.
By directing the maiden to go forth on the trail of the flock, the great Shepherd is saying, “Take the same path of faith as those who have gone before you. Lean entirely upon Me in absolute trust and confidence in My power, My wisdom, and My goodness.” What a great path to follow.
Joseph is one of my personal favorites of God’s flock from the Old Testament because he persevered under trial and had a forgiving heart. He was unjustly treated by his brothers, sold into Egyptian slavery, and imprisoned for thirteen years before Pharaoh made him second-in-command over all of Egypt (Genesis, chapters 37–50).
Joseph’s understanding of God’s sovereignty gave him peace in the midst of harsh circumstances. When famine drove his brothers to Egypt, uniting them once again, Joseph told them that God worked his imprisonment out for the good of many people (Gen. 50:20). Rather than nursing his wounds and becoming bitter, Joseph forgave his brothers and focused on the good that God brought out of his adversity. What a great path to follow.
My favorites of God’s flock from the New Testament are the apostles John and Paul. John knew in the core of his being that Jesus loved him. He even refers to himself four times in his gospel as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). He truly believed he was Jesus’ favorite disciple. Sound arrogant? I don’t think so. John experienced a deep sense of security in knowing how much he was loved by Jesus through his personal relationship with Him. What a great path to follow.
Because of the revelation given to the apostle Paul concerning our identity in Christ, I clearly see that I am not who I was when I was born into this world. I became a brand-new creation when I believed in (into) Jesus. Paul wasn’t taught by men; the resurrected Christ personally downloaded him with the precious truths concerning the believer’s identity (Gal. 1:11–12). In most of Paul’s letters to the churches, he begins by reminding them who they are in order to evoke positive behavioral changes. What a great path to follow.
There are many great men and women of faith (trailblazers) who are not mentioned in the Bible. I recently attended the funeral of a friend’s mother-in-law. Rather than giving a traditional message, the pastor spent the service reading tributes from several members of her family. In almost every one of the testimonials, the family members describe themselves as her favorite son, grandchild, daughter-in-law, and so on. This woman of faith left a wonderful legacy of making each one of her loved ones believe that he or she was her favorite. No, she wasn’t misleading them or pretending. When she spent one-on-one time with them, they each were her favorite. What a great path to follow.
At just the right time in my life, my home church hosted a Freedom in Christ conference where Jamie Lash, Bible teacher and director of student development at Dallas Baptist University, passionately and powerfully communicated the truths of the believer’s new identity in Christ. Through his message, titled “The New Creature,” I began to understand that, at salvation, Christ didn’t just come into my life, but He literally became my life.
I felt like Dorothy being swept away from the dull, black-and-white landscape of Kansas to the bright, panoramic spectrum of Oz. And I’m still in Oz over fifteen years later. Through Jamie’s faithfulness in blazing a trail to Perryton, Texas, my course of religious rule-keeping was changed forever, and I was set on a joy-filled, grace-illuminated path. What a great path to follow.
During his conference, Jamie shared quotes from trailblazers who had inspired him. Hungry for these truths to go deep, I began devouring every book I could find by these authors, which eventually led me to Bill and Anabel Gillham’s books. Bill and Anabel have left an incredible legacy of communicating the truths of our new life in Christ in simple and practical ways. Although both are now present with the Lord, the ministry they founded—Lifetime Ministries—continues to reach others with the liberating truths of our new life in Christ. What a great path to follow.
Finally, the most recent trailblazer who has impacted my life is best-selling author and west Texas pastor, Andrew Farley. His simple, straightforward teaching style is helping people better understand the grace of God and enjoy the freedom that Christ died to give them. Farley wears many other grace-directed hats—all of which point people to the simplicity of the gospel. What a great path to follow.
In today’s excerpt (there will only be a few more before my book comes out this summer), I share my personal journey of finding true rest and nourishment by following the path trod by faithful men and women of God who have gone before me.
Now, I’m wondering, dear reader,
Which Bible characters, pastors, teachers, authors, mentors, family members, and friends have blazed a trail of faith for you, influencing your life in positive ways?
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