Step back. Over the last few months it seems life has been going at a frantic pace. I quit exercising and watching my diet. I quit revising one of my college courses I teach. There were other things that I simply either lost interest in or just didn’t have the desire to do. My personal Bible study, although still a part of my life, didn’t yield the fruit it once did. I was going through a real spiritual battle. But instead of taking a step back and seeking the Lord’s will, I decided to handle things on my own.
We pray for guidance…
Like many people, during this ordeal I was praying for the Lord to guide me in the direction I was sure He wanted me to go. It’s easy to think that the direction we are heading in is the direction the Lord wants us to go. We gain confidence as small obstacles are overcome and we continue on our way. We give lip service to the prayers about helping us to understand God’s will. At times, we do not want to see the Lord guiding us in any way other than the way we want to go. But the question remains: do we really want the Lord’s guidance? We often approach the Lord with what we want to do and not asking what He wants us to do.
But we don’t step back…
Often we do ask the Lord for guidance but instead of waiting to see what He does want, we find ourselves continuing on the same path. In Proverbs, we often read In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:6), but do we really acknowledge Him? The work, acknowledge, according to the Miriam-Webster Online Dictionary: to recognize the rights, authority, or status of; to disclose knowledge of or agreement with; to express gratitude or obligation for. In other words, it’s not just saying “the Lord is my God” while still holding on to your own plan or idea. It is saying “the Lord is my God and I recognize His authority in my life.”
It’s often difficult to do especially if you’re like me. I don’t like uncertainty and I don’t like waiting. In fact, one of the hardest things for me to do is to take vacations or days off from work. But sometimes that is exactly what the Lord wants us to do. He wants us to take the time to step back and let Him do a work in our lives. Sometimes that work is to set us on another path. Even David experienced this: He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings (Psalms 40:2).
We waste our time…
Earlier this week, I found a passage that describes what I feel like I’ve done for the past three years: Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways (Haggai 1:5-7). It is easy to find ourselves in a place where we feel we are not making any traction in our lives. And it is these times where we become the most spiritually vulnerable.
For me, it become easy to take on new projects to occupy my time. And since most of those projects were church focused, I made excuses that I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. Even though I was doing things that benefited the church, I was not in a place to receive any sort of spiritual blessing from it because it was not being done out of obedience. Looking back, I was doing those things more for myself than for any other reason. In other words, I was wasting my time, even though it was beneficial to my church, on things that has no eternal value.
We use our own understanding…
While in graduate school, I remember a discussion we had during an environmental policy class. A fellow student was arguing with the professor over what one of the laws we were discussing in class. What did the law mean actually meant and what its purpose was. Rightly so, the professor told the student that it is important to understand what the courts have said about the law and even the best of intentions can be wrong if we act on what we think the law means. This is exactly what the Lord tells us to do: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
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