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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Straight Paths - Part I

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.  You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him.  That’s right – you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.  You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it.  Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel.  I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.  I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.  (Psalm 119:1-8)

It is a comforting thing to understand the direction we are headed – to clearly know the paths we are to follow, the things to avoid.  We often head off in directions unplanned for us, venturing out on our own completely unaware of what lays in wait along the path we choose.  It is a God-honoring thing to await his course direction – it is even more honoring to choose that course above any other.

The promise to us in this text is a sense of deep satisfaction when we stay on course – a deep sense of pleasure and contentment awaits us as we walk “steadily” on the road revealed by God.    Happiness is a very elusive thing – it is conditioned on so many things such as circumstance, the people in our lives, timing, and even the attitude of our heart at the moment.  We seek it in the most amazing ways – through the pursuit of fame or position; in some type of meaningful relationship; and even in giving away all we possess.  All the while, true happiness appears to evade us and we are left empty, frustrated, and filled with disappointment. 

So, the advice set before us is one of “walking steadily” on the course outlined by our God.  The title of God used in this text is that of Jehovah – the God of divine compassion, who stands unchangeable in his promises, permanent in his tender care, and righteous.  The course we choose in life is overlooked and guarded by this very God.  We can walk steadily when we understand the care that has gone into preparing the course before us and the caring oversight that is ours as we traverse its path.

To “stay” on course implies that we are continuing on, standing firm, and remaining in consistent pursuit of the course outlined by God.  I think there is an even deeper meaning that we need to consider – that of enduring.  Happy is the man or woman that “stays the course” or “endures” in the way.  There is a great sense of inner satisfaction to have remained consistent under suffering without yielding to its pressures – to not give in to the hardships along the way.  Our consistency comes only through the power of our unchanging God.  He is the one that gives us the ability to be firmly fixed in place, to be unfaltering in our movement.  David is speaking of a resolute assurance that the course we walk is designed at the hand of our God.  It is our fortune to stand with him along this course constant in our emotion, principled in our actions, and stable in our thoughts. 

Along the path, we are commissioned to “do our best to find him”.  What is our “best” – what does that look like?  Some would describe “doing our best” as giving our maximum effort – I’ve even heard some describe it as giving 110%!   Now, I am not inclined to believe that I actually have more than 100% to give – so I am not going to stress that we somehow find an additional 10% to reach some “stretch goal” in our pursuit of God.  

I am challenged daily to be productive, to excel in some way, but rarely am I able to say that I have given “my all” in the pursuit of God.  I daresay that most of us would find ourselves in that same condition if we were to truly analyze our walk with God.  It is encouraging to realize that God only requires our attention to his direction – that is how we “do our best” in serving him.  We “pay attention” when he speaks, we “focus our will” on his.  In so doing, we are placing ourselves on a steady path.

Tomorrow, we will consider what it really means to follow God down this path of life laid out before us.  Until then, what is God really asking you to "pay attention" to along this path you are on presently?  What is he asking for you to focus your will on?  See you tomorrow!