I was cleaning off my desk this morning and ran across an interesting quote by Abraham Lincoln.
“I feel the hand of God on me, leading me down better roads than I would take alone.” (Abraham Lincoln)
Interestingly enough, the scriptures say almost the same thing.
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and they right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:10
I for one am grateful that this influential man recognized the hand of God in his life and valued God’s guidance. What might our nation’s history have been like without those who were willing to listen to promptings and follow a higher path than their own? More personally, what is my life like when I do the same thing? What is it like when I don’t.?
We are definitely a blessed generation. There are so many avenues open to us that the people of President Lincoln’s time never even thought of. It’s a time of great potential for goodness, as well as of great potential for evil. Much of the world has become comfortable, lackadaisical, or even contemptuous about spiritual matters. The majority of the United States is educated and purpose driven. It just depends on what the purpose is.
What does the hand of God feel like as it leads His disciples? I once heard it said that if a choice leads you to goodness, to peace and happiness, to serve and love others, then it is of God. All other avenues are of the devil. The first duty of a disciple is to make those very conscious choices to turn away from evil. We need to decide before we ever begin the journey that we will not travel a road that God can not hold our hand on. For some that’s easy, for some – not so much.
Considering the path in terms of our come paints a pretty clear picture, but sadly that leaves far too many paths open to someone like me. I’m an eager, if somewhat scatter-brained, disciple of Christ. I try very hard to choose those routes that lead me on good roads. The problem is there are so very many of them. There are just as many positive roads that we could follow as there are negative ones.
Another wise person once said: It’s too bad we’re not trying to choose between robbing a bank and paying our tithing! Ah, for the simplicity of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if all our choices were that black and white, that clear on which path lead to sorrow and which to God? After making those initial decisions of staying away from the blackest paths, I’ve yet to come across a branch in the road that was as clearly defined. Often, my choices are more like: reading my scriptures or reading to my children, providing entertainment for them in church meetings so that others (and myself) can pay attention or taking those away and trying to get the children to pay attention, talking on the phone to someone who needs a listening ear or getting to my meetings on time. What if my choice were paying my tithing or buying groceries?
Would Abraham Lincoln have robbed a bank instead of uniting a nation if he had not been paying attention to the hand of God? Well, probably not. He probably would have done amazing things with his life on any number of paths he could have chosen from. Thankfully, he chose the one the Lord wanted for him and we all were benefited by it. It might be much the same for many of us. As disciples we look for the good, we want to follow our Savior. We, at least I, seem to latch on to every good thing and feel we must accomplish them all because they are good. We either wear ourselves out trying to do “good” that when the end of a road is reached, the reward of peace and happiness that we were reaching for has fled before our distressed spirit. Or, we simplify our lives saying we do not have time for this or the other thing and find ourselves just as miserable because the things we chose to keep aren’t what were best for us to keep.
We see all the good roads; we can not see their entire end from the beginning. For that we need the hand of God. Remember, Abraham Lincoln didn’t say the hand of God kept him from evil paths, he said that the hand of God had lead him to better places than he could have gone by Himself.
There are also seasons to our lives and learning here on earth. The road that we were following five years ago may not be the same one we need to be on now. If we stop seeking and acknowledging His hand we might miss the turn off He had planned for us. We seek the hand of God through scripture, prayer and quiet times of pondering. We watch and ponder those things that seem to fill us with the greatest measure of His spirit. We try to make our choices between the many good things according to where the Lord needs us to end up. We look for His hand to hold ours on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. If we can remember to do this, each of us will be able to look back on our lives and say: “The hand of God led my on better roads than I would take alone.”