Following the Directions

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Raise your hand if you have ever used some electronic GPS type of device to get to your destination.

Today my mom and I were going for a ride, and I needed one such device. The point of these devices of course is to get from Point A to Point B without getting lost. As we drove we were remembering a time or two that we thought we knew better than the voice giving us directions. Well, you probably know how this story finishes. We got lost. The voice in the box kept recalculating how we were to go based on our wrong turns. He tried to get us on the right path, but we kept ignoring still thinking we knew better. Finally, we had no choice but to listen to that voice and follow the directions. We finally reached our destination. While we enjoyed the sights and the adventure, we wasted much time and gas.

How like our daily walk is this? We so often think we know what is best for our lives. It’s like we say, “God, I know what is best for me. I’ll seek you if I get lost, but I’ve got this.” We walk our own path, do our own thing, seek our best interest, and Get Lost! Then, we ask God where He was, why wasn’t He helping us, and why didn’t He take care of us? The answer….we didn’t listen to His voice.

“God, I know what is best for me. I’ll seek you if I get lost, but I’ve got this.” We walk our own path, do our own thing, seek our best interest, and Get Lost! Then, we ask God where He was…

Proverbs 3:5-7 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord and depart from evil.” (KJV) Peter, in the storm when Jesus was walking on the water, said if He was the Lord to tell him to come. Jesus did and Peter stepped out of the boat and started walking on the water also. However, Peter took his eyes of Jesus and what happened? He started to sink. (He got lost.) Peter cried out to Jesus, “Lord, help!” Jesus reached His loving, caring hand to Peter. Peter had to follow and reach for Jesus’ hand.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”(John 10:27, KJV)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”(John 10:27, KJV) We need to trust the Lord with our whole heart. We need to hold His hand, follow His voice.   God’s voice will never, ever lead us astray. Cling to His hand, dear friend. Follow His voice. Keep your eyes focused on God. You won’t be sorry and it won’t ever be a waste of time or anything else. It may not make sense to you at the time but following God will never disappoint. Trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Photograph by Trisha L. KnaulProverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make straight your paths.

What a comforting passage that is. But wait. Is it really all that comforting? Yes, it says he will make your paths straight, but think about it. Couldn’t a straight path go over a mountain? Doesn’t sound so easy now, does it?

Lets not forget the first part either. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” sounds easy enough, but there’s more: “And do not lean on your own understanding.” Wait! What do you mean? You mean my understanding might be wrong? You see where this is going, don’t you? This simple little verse, used to comfort people, scares me half to death!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

How many of us, when we say, “Lord, I will do whatever you say,” really mean, “Lord, I will follow you til the situation doesn’t fit what I think should be going on.” I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty of this more times then I care to admit.

For years my youth group went on missions trips, and each year I would decide I was going to go. Then each year I would back out–too afraid of what might happen. You see, my understanding was that if I went something bad would happen. For years I did this until at last during my senior year I went. That trip was one of the most amazing trips of my life! Still, I occasionally wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t let my understanding get in the way of trusting on God’s understanding. That mission trip my path felt straight. I knew what I was doing and what I had to do. Furthermore, I did it even when I was scared and didn’t want to. I was trusting on God.

Ladies, don’t rely on Your understanding. Your sight is limited to what You see. Trust in God’s understanding. He sees everything.

In all your ways acknowledge Him…
Proverbs 3:6a

So much of what I did as a kid was to impress my brothers, parents, and even my friends. I wanted to be praised. Not to lord is over anyone or prove I was better than them, but because I wanted to feel like I did something right, that for once in my life I wouldn’t feel left out or out of control.

I wonder how many of us are doing the same thing today–wanting to fit in so badly we conveniently forget to mention God because we fear being rejected. We forget the skills that put us where we are were given to us by God, not necessarily to “fit in” but to be used for him. This is a trap many of us fall into.

This doesn’t mean you should go quit your job and work for charity. This means that whenever you get credit you should in some way give credit back to Him. Whether it be praise or just acknowledging him, never forget to acknowledge what God has done.

During the 2016 Olympics, there was a synchronized diving team* that did very well. These two men had started as discipleship partners and discovered a similar passion for diving which eventually took them to the Olympics. I don’t remember where they placed or even their names. However, they stick out in my mind, not because of how good they were, but because every time they were interviewed they never failed to mention God and that He was the reason they were there at the Olympics. How easy would it have been for these divers to just forget God’s involvement and talk about their dive or how participating in the Olympics was amazing? However, they never failed to acknowledge what God had done for them.

That is the kind of thing I would love to be known for doing and one of the things I fail at the most. When I write something or sew a garment, it is so tempting to forget what God has done for me that allowed me to do those things in the first place. You don’t have to go yelling about God every time someone praises what you’ve done. This can drive people away. Don’t take it for granted either.

Acknowledging God’s hand in things is a very important part of evangelizing that can be overlooked. We can acknowledge God in such a way that it gives Him a outstanding verbal referral.

And He will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:6b

Now what about that last part? “And He will make straight your paths.” What does that mean? Well, whenever I have been following God closely, I have known to some extent what I needed to do, even if it was just that I needed to obey my parents. As comforting as this sounds, I have bad news. It’s not always all that easy.

A walking path can be straight and smooth–seen for miles on end. A straight path can also have bumps and cracks inviting us to step in and twist our ankle. Or maybe, just maybe, this straight path could go straight over a mountain, disappearing over the other side not to be seen till you reach the top. Because even though it says, He will make our paths straight, it says nothing about the paths being easy. In fact, John 16:13 says, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart I have overcome the world.”

When I was little our family use to go on walks in the park. I enjoyed them for the most part, but I would get tired and want to stop. At that time one of my brothers or my dad would pick me up and carry me for a while. You see, they had overcome that path before and knew how to help me. In the same way, like an expert mountain climber, the Lord will help you up that mountain or encourage you to keep going because He knows you can make it.

So whatever the mountain is your climbing take heart and trust in His understanding for He has overcome the world.

Remember that our understanding is limited. God’s is not. Acknowledging God is not only a way to praise but to evangelize. Give the expert mountain climber the best referral ever, as he guides you along a straight path over the mountain.

I pray that you would lean on God’s understanding as He makes straight your paths.

 

 

*2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medalists in men’s synchronized 10 m platform diving, David Boudia and Steele Johnson

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.