We believe Christ gives us and demands of us personal lives that are centered in God and open to God’s reality and rule….We need constantly to search out God’s way in Scripture, not expecting detailed directions for every decision, but relying on the Word to tell us who God is, to press God’s present claim on us, and to assure us of God’s grace and comfort (A Declaration of Faith, 1970s).

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it” (Hebrews 12:1ff, The Message).

On a recent vacation trip, my wife and I hiked some tough trails (called “moderate” by the über-fit 20-somethings that wrote the brochures) in a state park. Roots, rocks, uneven steps, uphill, downhill. All the while we were trying not to stumble or die of heat exhaustion, we also had to make sure we were on the right trail. For that, we relied on “blazes,” white or blue metal markers nailed to trees along the way. They were put up by—you guessed it—“trailblazers,” who originally cut through the brush and the woods to provide a way for tourists and locals to get to natural wonders like a waterfall, a stone “door” (right) or an arch.

Walking those trails reminded me that when we want to know what’s right to do in life, we also need to follow the blazes. I mean the example set by Jesus, the “Pioneer and Perfecter” of faith. When we wonder if we’re living a godly life, doing God’s will, what we need to do is look at the marks of holiness left along the way by Jesus. To paraphrase the common question: “What did Jesus do?”

The answer is everywhere in the gospels. What we find in Jesus is the ultimate example of someone who did justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly with God  (cf. Micah 6:8). That’s the will of God—not so much specific directions for every little thing, but a way of living that’s true and whole. That’s the path we need to follow, marked by the Trailblazer himself.

© 2013 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.

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