The Father's Direction
James Smith, 1859
The parent was carrying his child, and the little prattler delighted his ear and his heart. But his arms got weary, and he put it down to walk. It was put down that the father's eye might watch it, and the father's hand defend, or catch it, if needful. It soon turned to look back, when the parent said, "There, look where you are going!" Look before you, not behind. Look forward, not backward.
How frequently we need such an admonition! How prone we are to look back, as if we doubted whether our father had not left us to ourselves. Or, as if we were afraid to go forward. But there is a race set before us—and we must run it. There is a goal to be reached—and we must reach it. There is experience to be gained—and we must gain it. A voice may be often heard behind us saying, "This is the way, walk in it." The father's advice to his child, we may apply to four classes.
Young Christian, "look where you are going!" There are snares in your path, dangers in your way. Keep your eyes open, and let them look right on, or before you are aware, you fall. Temptations will assail you on every hand. If invited to the theater, or ball room, or concert, or dance, or to join the pleasure party, "look where you are going!" Ask yourself the question, "Will the Lord go with me? Or, will the Lord smile upon me there? Or, shall I honor Jesus by going?" "Look where you, are going," lest you grieve the Spirit, wound the cause of God, or lay a stumbling-block in the sinner's way. There is no neutral ground, it either belongs to Jesus, or to Satan; and if you venture on Satan's ground—you give him occasion against you, and power over you. Seek happiness in God. Expect pleasure in doing good. Never let it be said, that you were obliged to seek pleasure in the world, or in carnal things.
Prosperous professor, "look where you are going!" Business is increasing, trade is flourishing, and you are making money. You will soon be tempted to change your style of living, to relax in your attendance on the means of grace, and to allow less time for the exercises of the closet. If you yield, you will soon lose your tenderness of conscience, your zeal for God's glory, and your sympathy with the Savior. If you retain the forms of religion, you will lose the life and power, and become formal. Beware of making haste to be rich, or you will be betrayed into rash speculations, or launch out into business beyond your depth, and come very near to the whirlpool, which drowns men in destruction and perdition. "Look where you are going" or you will go into the world, and become worldly; and instead of testifying unto it, that the works thereof are evil—you will give it reason to believe that it is in a good state. Jesus prayed, that his people might be kept "from the evil" of the world; and Paul exhorted the Corinthians, to come out of it, and be separated from it.
Aged Believer, "look where you are going!" You are very near home. Your Father's house is just before you. A few more steps and you will stand before the gates of glory. The wilderness is all behind you, you have only to cross the Jordan, and you will enter into the promised land. Do not be anxious then, about anything earthly. Set your affections on things above. Keep your lamp filled with oil, and the flame bright and clear. Keep your ear open and attentive, and listening for the Master's call. Realize his presence with you, rest on his promise to support you, and anticipate the pleasure of being forever with the Lord!
"Look where you are going." You are going where there is no sin, no sorrow, no pain. Where there are no foes to alarm, no fears to trouble, no needs to pinch. You are going where Jesus reigns, where angels worship, where saints are perfect, and "God is all in all." There will be no weary body there, no tempting devil there, no distress of soul there; all will be ease, holiness, and happiness!
Unsaved sinner, "look where you are going!" You are in the path of danger, and in the road to death! You are wandering from God, and are going down into the pit. Every step you take, every moment you live, your danger is greater—and you are nearer to hell. Satan binds you faster, sin makes you harder, and the world entangles you more fully in its web. You are warned, that you may be saved. You are alarmed, that you may escape. You are within a step of Jesus, in one direction; take that step, and you are saved. You are within a step of hell, in another direction; take that step, and you are lost forever.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will deliver you from the wrath to come; live in unbelief, and you must perish forever. Jesus is the only way to the Father, the only way to heaven; walk in him—and you will come to the Father on the throne of grace now, and you will come to him on the throne of glory soon. But, if you remain where you are, and what you are—you must perish, and perish forever. If you make up your mind to go to hell, you need not trouble yourself, let things take their course, and no doubt you will reach that fearful place. But if you wish to go to heaven, you must strive for it, as Jesus said, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Strive and you shall enter, and entering be saved.