In Step – Keeping in step with the pace set by the Word
The other day I watched a video clip of something that I have enjoyed for many years – the pomp and splendour of a Scottish pipes and drums band on the march. As a high school lad, I was part of a cadet band myself, and tremendously enjoyed the military precision with which we marched, performing many complicated moves, while playing our instruments. The Scottish pipes and drums bands are a little bit more relaxed when they play, but when they march, they are perfectly in step, and if even one is slightly off the pace, you hear it immediately, especially on a tarred road surface. It just sounds wrong, out of time. Of course, you are also out of step when everyone is on the left foot while you are on the right. Nobody is going to hear it, but it is like a 180 degree difference.
There are many examples in the Bible that address man’s walk on the Earth. The Word of God sets a standard, a rhythm, that we as believers must listen to, so that we keep in step. If you are not disciplined in your spiritual walk, then you may not even know that you are out of step. Paul could well have had the precision of a marching Roman army in mind when he wrote the following:
16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. – Galatians 5:16-18
He writes about a spiritual life that is disciplined, and believers who listen to the Holy Spirit and are led by His guidance. Thus, they are in step with God’s will for their lives. He contrasts walking in the Spirit with walking in the flesh – following the voice of the world. The interesting thing about watching and listening to a marching band is that the one who is out of step probably does not even know it. However, it is evident to those who are watching the event. They both hear and see that one member is not marching in time, or not playing in tune, with the rest of the band. It is the same with believers who are marching out of time in their spiritual lives. They may not even notice it, but others do.
Walking in step with God means that I agree with His terms and conditions. In the band, the drum major is the de facto leader. He commands the band to get to attention, he starts the procession, decides where they go, and when they stop. His pace is what the band follows. They never pass him from behind and a set distance is maintained. If I want to be in God’s band, I agree with how He wants me to live, where I go, and what I do, but all in His time:
9A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. – Proverbs 16:9
I must follow Him, not run ahead of Him. How many times has it happened to you that you got so carried away with something that you left Him behind while you surged forward to pursue it? How many times were you successful? The failures are the result of not following, but instead trying to lead yourself. You are not the drum major, and you do not determine the pace. God is the leader, and He sets the pace. If you want proof from the Word, read this:
23The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. – Psalm 37:23-24
It is indeed God that determines the pace and direction of our lives. If we understand and accepts this, we have nothing to worry about. As we march into 2022, are you following the pace and rhythm of the Holy Spirit for your life, or are you trying to make it on your own by following your own pace and plan? We need wisdom to obey:
10Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. 11I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. 12When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. 13Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. – Proverbs 4:10-14
What must we do? We must listen to the Word of God and accept the Word’s directions. As the world around us is fast turning into chaos, and shouts louder for more unrighteousness, can you still hear the voice of God as He speaks to you through His Word? Maybe it has been drowned out by the desires of the world and the flesh. The Holy Spirit is not going to shout at you to overcome the noise of the world. He speaks in a still small voice:
11And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. – 1 Kings 19:11-12
Many people claim that God speaks to them directly, in an audible voice. While I cannot say that this is impossible, it is unlikely. Today, God speaks to us through His Son, the Word:
1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; – Hebrews 1:1-2
There is no getting away from it. You simply must live and breathe the Word of God if you want to have any hope of hearing the still small voice, the way Elijah heard it. This means you must be constantly fed and nourished by reading the Word. In a way the lockdowns that were experienced all over the world was a good thing, if the available time was used wisely. It gave believers the opportunity to spend more time with the Bible and to study the Word. If you used this time wisely, you would no doubt have grown spiritually. Maybe the time off allowed you to improve your ability to listen and learn. If it did not happen, you lost a great opportunity.
If you desire to hear the still small voice and be in step with God’s plan for your life, make the time to study the Word and do what He requires of you. If you notice that you are out of step, confess this as the sin that it is, ask for forgiveness, correct it, get back in step, and then move on.