Keys to the Kingdom By Carolyn Tucker
Dionne Warwick received her first Grammy Award in 1968 for her mega-hit, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.”
As a child growing up in East Orange, New Jersey, she began singing in church. As a teenager, Dionne and her sister started their own gospel group, The Gospelaires. Later known as the artist who “bridged the gap,” Warwick’s soulful blend of gospel, pop, and R&B cut across race, culture, and musical boundaries.
Burt Bacharach and Hal David co-wrote the song and pitched it to Dionne, who didn‘t want to sing it, because she thought it was a silly song. But the two gentlemen talked her into recording it and she later giggled all the way to the bank. Warwick earned the nickname, “Princess of Pop,” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” became one of her most-successful international hits. After 54 years, this clever song title, catchy tune, and upbeat tempo still plays in my internal jukebox.
Whether it’s about a career choice, who to marry, which church to attend, or which route to travel on vacation, people all over the globe are wanting to know which direction to go. There’s four choices: up, down, or one side or the other. God will always lead believers up (forward). “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV). God’s powerful direction for His children is always active, opening new ways forward.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites relied on a priest, judge, or prophet to give them directions. When Saul and his friend were searching for the lost donkeys and couldn‘t find them anywhere, the friend said, “…Behold, there is a man of God [Samuel] in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go” (1 Samuel 9:6 ESV).
New Testament believers have the Holy Spirit living inside us to tell us the way we should go. We’re never left to our own devices in decision making, but often we neglect to ask for direction. And sometimes when we receive it, we shrug off the Holy Spirit’s promptings or ignore His leadings — which is when we fall off the log. The Christian’s life is like walking on a log that’s laying across a creek. If we get distracted and lose our balance we’ll fall off. There’s also a chance of being knocked off by a tree branch we didn’t see, but the solution is still the same. Get back up on the log and go at it again. We’ll eventually get to the other side even though we’re wet and bruised up a bit.
Recently, I was watching someone sketch a property map and I was having trouble visualizing it. I asked an important question, “Which way is north?” With the answer, I was able to get my bearings and make sense of the map. The Holy Spirit is the believer’s internal compass who keeps us heading due north toward God. There’ll be a few bumpy detours, but keep following the map (Bible), listening to the GPS (Holy Spirit) and we’ll find our way up for every day. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27 NLT). Jesus clearly states that He knows us, He speaks to us, and then it’s our responsibility to listen to Him and follow (obey) Him. Jesus also said, “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God“ (John 8:47 NLT).
The Key: Following the Holy Spirit’s direction will never take you the wrong way.