Where we live in Northumberland, there’s quite a bit of hunting. Of course, these days it isn’t foxes that the hounds are chasing, but a specially laid trail. If there’s a hunt on when we are out walking, it’s fun to watch the horses and the hounds, especially when the hounds are all together, following the scent, jumping over walls and fences, not letting anything distract them.
But sometimes we encounter a hound that’s got a long way from the rest of the pack – he’s lost the scent. I wonder why. Maybe, he wandered away from the trail, and got too far from it to be able to pick it up again. Or perhaps he picked up another scent. Hunting foxes with hounds is illegal in the UK. But foxhounds will still follow the scent of a fox. Perhaps that’s why he has strayed away from the pack.
God’s heart for us is that we follow the ‘trail’ of His commands. But the key to this is not a legalistic effort to follow the letter of the law but a wholehearted seeking after the Lawgiver Himself. It’s seeking after God that ensures that we don’t stray from His commands – that we don’t go after ‘the wrong scent’.
God’s commands are His path for life – the Maker’s travelling instructions. Sometimes, if we are honest, we know that we deliberately stray from God’s commands. But we also do it inadvertently. It is a rather sobering thought that ‘I didn’t mean to’ isn’t an excuse in God’s eyes. The Torah has provision for sacrifices for those who sin unintentionally, or in ignorance. Today, as we live in a world that has largely turned its back on God’s blueprint for right living, it is not easy to know and obey all His commands.
So, what’s the answer? ‘I seek You with all my heart’, says the psalmist. The hounds that are going the right way are totally focussed on the scent left by the person who has laid the trail for them. Nothing distracts them. That’s the sort of thing that ‘seeking God with all your heart’ means. If we are led by the Spirit, our human spirit will constantly pick up ‘the fragrance of Christ’ as we follow Him.
When we seek God absolutely wholeheartedly; when we make Him the focus of all our hearts’ desires, then He will keep us on track, not straying from the path of His commands.
Prayer: Father, I confess that I so often fail to make You the focus of my life and stray from Your path for my life. Today I renew my commitment to follow You. Lord Jesus, would You be my vision, my path, my guide today. Amen.
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