Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
– Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV
An effective way of leading a donkey and steering the direction in which it walks is with a contraption that dangles a carrot in front of its nose. The donkey wants the carrot, so points its head in the direction of the carrot. If the rider or owner of the donkey steers the carrot slightly to the left or right of the donkey’s nose, the donkey follows the carrot with its head, and the donkey’s body follows – so it walks in the direction steered by the carrot. Wherever its nose faces, that is the direction in which it walks. It’s the same with riding a motorbike: the rider rides in the direction in which he or she is facing.
I see this as a metaphor for our whole lives: our lives point towards whatever we focus on; we walk in whatever direction we face. What I mean is that whatever we spend our time and energy thinking about – whatever is in front of our nose or in the forefront of our mind – our lives will follow that thing and our lives will point in that direction. For example, if someone’s passion is money, then that passion for money is what is in front of their nose, so to speak, and in their lives they will pursue money and look for what will gain them more money or cost them less money in their decisions and everyday situations. If someone’s primary passion is music, then music is their “carrot”, and music is in their mind and their fuel for life throughout different situations each day.
It’s easy to follow when we want to go where the leader is taking us, but what about when He takes a turn we’re not in favour of?
– Lisa Barry
For the donkey, the carrot is what guides it – by means of the carrot the person who owns the donkey can lead it in the right direction. But where is our passion? What is our carrot? What is the thing that is in front of our nose, that we smell all the time, and face, and head towards? May we be guided by our Lord and Saviour so that we can glorify Him with our lives, the ways He wants us to – rather than working in our own effort towards what we assume is His will, or to achieve our own goals. May we follow our noses knowing that He is our focus and that we are facing Him.
So let us surrender to God our noses and what we face in our lives – may He be our carrot! When we follow Him as the donkey follows the carrot, it leads to blessing for our lives: the blessing of knowing Him more intimately and following Him more closely – just as following the smell of good food usually leads to the blessing of being able to eat good food and nourish our bodies. However, we cannot follow Him in our own strength and cannot hope to keep our eyes on Him by our own efforts – we need Him to teach us how to do this, and give us the strength to keep at it! So may we surrender to God and let Him guide and lead us, teaching us how to keep our focus on Him and how to follow His guidance in the way that He wants us to.
It is a great deal easier to do that which God gives us to do, no matter how hard it is, than to face the responsibilities of not doing it.
– B J Miller
When we spend time talking with God we learn to let Him guide our choices – as we get to know His character better He can make us more sensitive to His Spirit and more able to discern His will and smell where He is trying to lead us. May we be guided by God so as to glorify Him with every part of our lives. As our faces point to Him, may we live as citizens of Heaven and bring glory to Him as we focus on Him throughout life. This focus on God makes it easier to stay away from sin, and can make life more of an adventure as He reveals how He sees situations, and we begin to look at life the way that He does.
In the film “Up”, the ‘bad guys’ are some nasty-looking dogs with mean eyes and deep voices. One of the funny things about their characters, though, is that even when they are in the middle of plotting, or having a serious conversation, if one of them sees a squirrel they all immediately become very upright and wide-eyed, with ears pricked and tails wagging, saying “Squirrel!” in excited voices. Regardless of where they try to put their focus, their weak point is the distraction of squirrels. What are our weak points, our distractions which take our focus from God? Is our “carrot” more important to us than those things, more precious? Let us keep God as our focus, and surrender these distractions into His hands. May our noses point towards Him at all times, regardless of the squirrels in life! May we surrender our focus into God’s hands and let Him lead us closer to Him so that we can know His leading, and follow Him closely as we get to know Him in a more intimate way.
May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
– 2 Thessalonians 3:5, NLT
God my Path and my Purpose,
Thank You that You know me completely.
You know my desires, focuses and distractions.
I surrender each of these now into Your hands.
I give you my nose and the direction in which it points.
Please be my “carrot” – may You be the one I follow with everything.
May I smell Your presence and Your guidance at all times.
I surrender to You my distractions – the “squirrels” in my life.
Please become more important to me than those things!
Please teach me Your ways, and shape my understanding.
May I live in Your ways, following You rather than my own thoughts and understanding.