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Sunday, April 3, 2011

"If" is really a big word

 15 If I keep my eyes on God, I won't trip over my own feet. 
(Psalm 25:15)

This may be a short verse, but it packs a wallop!  It has both a condition and a result.  We call that "cause and effect" in the world of science.  If we see the cause of an action, we understand better the effect of that same action.

The condition:  IF I keep my eyes on God.
The result:  I WON'T trip over my own feet.

I know that "if" is a pretty short word, but it conveys a great deal of meaning.  I looked it up (you knew I would) and found that there are eleven dictionary meanings for this little word!  I will explore a few here in light of this scripture passage:
  • "Granting or supposing that..." - David is saying "suppose that I keep my eyes on God", what will my outcome be?  What impact will that focus have in my life?  What obstacles will I avoid in my path?
  • "When or whenever..." - perhaps we need to see that our focus can drift.  We can allow other things to become central in our focus, taking our eyes off of God and placing them on things that will provide some "tripping" opportunities.
  • "Provided that..." - this is the conditional part of the statement.  It implies a condition on which something depends.  Our safety, security, and spiritual well-being is "conditioned" on dependence on God's leading. Without his leading, we are bound to "trip up".
The outcome or result of meeting the "condition" of the "if" in this passage is that we "won't" trip up!  Look at what makes us trip up, though.  It is our own feet!  In other words, it is the stuff we allow to clutter up our thoughts, our speech, and our activities.  

God's plan is that we allow him to both remove obstacles from our path, and to help us maneuver around those things that we cannot remove.  I remember crossing an old suspension bridge once.  It was probably 50 or more years old - something most would not want to cross.  I had a friend who went across ahead of me.  He stood on the other side of the ravine and helped me "maintain focus" as I crossed.  He would continually remind me to "not look down".  When I did look down, the obstacle of crossing that bridge was overwhelming - panic arose in my mind and I was almost paralyzed in my forward movement.  When I kept (and redirected) my focus on him, having gone before me with ease, I knew I'd make it.

The same is true with our Lord - he has gone before us in all that we face.  No obstacle is in our path that he will not safely maneuver us around - IF we keep our focus on him.