STEP TWO, IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

In my last blog, I shared with you that the first step in moving in the right direction is that I must daily surrender the thought that my way is better than God’s.

That’s not an easy thing to do unless you’ve come to the end of yourself.  In other words, it means that you have given up trying to figure out life on your own, and charting your own course.  Going it on your own never ends up leading to a good place physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.  

As long as we are full of ourselves, and often are, we leave no room for God in the every day moments of our life.  Daily there is the subtle questioning, “Why would I need God’s direction when I feel like I’m doing just fine figuring it out on my own?  I don’t need God’s instruction.  I don’t need to listen to His voice.  I’ve got this.”   

Right.

Like the time, when I was in middle school, I decided to ask my dad for the keys to the car during a moment when he was distracted.  There wasn’t even a hint of the thought going through his mind, “Oh, Shawn needs the keys to the car because he wants to back the car out of the parking space and pull the car up to the front door so that he can show me that he really does know how to drive.”  But that was going through my mind.  I had this driving thing figured out.  I mean, after all, I had driven down our street at 10mph numerous times (at least 3 or 4).  No more need for instructions, or driving lessons.  I was pretty much a pro at this.  

So, after hitting the car in the parking spot next to me while trying to back out, and continuing to accelerate out of the parking spot, the debris of bumper parts, trim, and paint chips made two things very clear:  I didn’t have it figured out, and I would be forever grounded with no hope of early release.  

I made a wreck of what I thought I ruled over.  Chaos overtook what I thought I had mastered.  Had I asked my dad if I could have backed the car out, he more than likely would’ve said “yes,” but not without him being in the seat next to me giving me instruction so I wouldn’t wander into the parking space that was occupied next to me.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rushed ahead, seeking to impress God and others, and even myself, with my prideful “I’ve-got-this” mentality.  And each time I’ve gone it alone, without seeking God’s wisdom and counsel, I’ve found myself wandering from His commands and into places that have wrecked me (sometimes a fender-bender; other times a collision), and left a trail of varying debris. 

But thankfully, God reminds us in Psalm 119 of the second step we can take in moving the right direction so that we avoid wandering from His commands.

STEP TWO:  I MUST SEEK GOD’S INSTRUCTION WHOLE-HEARTEDLY.

When we have surrendered the thought that our way is better than God’s way, the next step is to seek God and discover what His instructions are in navigating every day life.  He hasn’t left us to try and figure it out on our own because He knows that our hearts are prone to wander.  That is the honest confession of the psalmist when he says, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from Your commandments!” Psalm 119:10.  His plea seems desperate because he knows the tendency of his own spiritual drift.  It’s our tendency as well.  

The instruction of God’s word keeps our heart in the right lane.  Without it, and our acknowledgment of his counsel, we drift dangerously into the wrong lane.  It is nothing less than distracted living, and nothing good comes from a distracted heart.  Just ask King David.  He should have been at war, but he wasn’t. He should have turned his eyes away from Bathsheba, but he didn’t.  Distracted living.  Just ask Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples.  He should have trusted Jesus, but he was distracted by the waves.  He should have stood up for Jesus rather than fold like a lawn chair, but he didn’t.  Distracted living.  The Bible is full of stories of men and women who thought it best to go their own way, and not one of them fared well.   

Before we are too quick to point out their distracted lives, we need to add our names to the story as well.  When I look back at the debris left in the wake of my moments of spiritual drift, it’s easy to see (if I’m honest with myself and God) the times where I did not seek or heed God’s instruction.  I can look back and see moments where I was only half-heartedly seeking God; like driving down the highway paying no attention to the instruction of the warning sign that reads, “Bridge out ahead.”  Half-hearted seeking leads to wholehearted distraction; and wholehearted distraction can lead to a whole lot of damage and debris.  

But life’s landscape does not have to be littered with the debris of our self-seeking ways.  So how do we navigate life well so as to take steps in the right direction by wholeheartedly seeking God? 

READ the Scriptures daily; they always point you in the right direction.  

TRUST completely that the Scriptures are God’s word to us for our good.  His way may not be the way we would choose, but it’s always the best and right way.  He knows life’s terrain infinitely better than us.  

CHOOSE to follow His ways.  To know the right way to go and not to is foolish.

ENJOY the path He has you on because it leads you to the life you really desire, not the life you think you do.  

This life we travel is marked by steps, and depending on the steps you take will determine the joy or sorrow of your journey, and ultimately your destination.  So, let today be a day you choose to take another step in the right direction.   

How Long?

How long O Lord?

The thing I love about the psalms that David wrote is that we can relate to them. When I read what he’s written, I’m like, “I get you, bro.” For me, it’s refreshing and encouraging that this former shepherd boy turned King of Israel had real life struggles, and that he felt as though he could ask honest questions and have honest dialogue with God.

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.” (Psalm 13:1-4)

Maybe you’ve had questions and conversations like that with God; I know I have.

What’s even more encouraging, though, is David’s trust in God, even when life didn’t make sense. Even in his honest questioning, David would come back to the truth about God. His feelings didn’t inform his faith, but rather his faith was the guardrails for his feelings.

“But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

Even in David’s difficult and raw moments of his life, he came back to this truth: God’s love is steadfast. Regardless of how long we have to wait, or endure suffering, or in the times we feel forgotten as though God has hidden His face from us, the truth is God is very near. His love is steadfast. That kind of love never leaves, because God never leaves. Rather than letting his emotions get the best of him, David rehearsed the gospel to himself. He could rejoice because no matter how he felt, he knew that God’s salvation was certain and that His grace was more than sufficient.

So here’s the takeaway for me: In those moments where I feel forgotten by God, or wonder how long I have to endure the difficulties of life that stir my emotions, I can trust and rest in the truth of knowing that His love for me is steadfast, and that His saving grace gives me reason to rejoice.