God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—my whole life one long, obedient response.
(Psalm 119:33-34 The Message)
As I began to ponder this next section within Psalm 119, David's heart began to become quite apparent to me. He was not concerned with a list of lessons he would have amassed in "living" life. He was asking God directly for lessons that would help him "live" life. Sometimes I think we approach things the first way - making mental note of what we learned FROM the moments we just finished living rather than making heart note of what lessons God wants for us IN those moments.
I am a planner - goes without saying for those of you that know me - so I value the "notes" and "plans". I think David was kind of that way, too. He was organized in his thoughts, skilled in the direction of his troops, and a great "commander" of his armies. You don't get people to follow you if you are haphazard about everything in life! Yet, David is asking God (Jehovah) for some "plans". Anytime your Bible puts GOD in all capital letters, the translation of the name being used is Jehovah. When David is asking to be taught lessons for living, he goes directly to the "unchangeable one" - Jehovah.
He looks to the one who is unchangeable in his promises, reliable in his expectations, and consistent in his justice. The "list" he hopes to hear God give him is first and foremost consistent! It doesn't change tomorrow. The standards that God sets for living are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. David knows he can stand on them - counting on God's consistent justice to evaluate his progress in life by those standards he established for living life.
When we are more focused on making the MENTAL notes of what we learned from living life, rather than getting the HEART notes of what lessons God wants for us to glean in living life, we get things backwards. David's purpose in asking for God's "list" up-front is that he might live IN the insight God gives him. INSIGHT is much better than HINDSIGHT! Insight is the ability to see (to discern) the true character of what life is dealing you - then making the right decisions based on what you know.
The goal of having such knowledge: Obedience! Life is complex - there are really no "easy days". If we seem to be sailing through life, we are probably just oblivious to the dangers all around us! I have traveled through some pretty rough storms - snow flying so wet that you could barely clear the windshield, or dust rolling through so thick you could not see your hand in front of your face. In those times, I relied on those things that I was taught beforehand about driving in those conditions. It was in the lessons learned BEFORE the conditions arose that I was able to traverse THROUGH the conditions.
That is really what obedience is all about - learning the lessons before we have to put them into practice! We get INSIGHT by allowing that "sight" to be built deep within us through times of taking "in" God's Word, allowing it to affect our "planning" for life. When we face the "conditions" of life, we are better prepared for how to respond TO those conditions - obedience is the result.
One of Mom's favorite expressions is, "Listen to me!" It wasn't spoken often, but when it was, I knew that she was telling me something that would actually serve me well later in life. God gives us teachable moments much in the same way - times when he specifically says, "Listen to me!" In those moments, we need to have the heart response of gaining the insight he so longs for us to have. It will be that insight that gives us the foresight to miss the bumps and obstacles that our poor planning put in our paths. Yep, we learn from our mistakes, but wouldn't it be wonderful to learn how to avoid them BEFORE they have an opportunity to be made?
When God inscribes his lessons for life on our hearts, our ability to LIVE life well is much better than any "mental notes" we might make along the way! Let your response will be, "Inscribe on, God!"