I have celebrated Your testimonies as though rejoicing over an immeasurable fortune. I will fix my mind on Your instructions and my eyes on Your path. I will find joy in Your ordinances; I will remember Your word forever. (Psalm 119:14-16 VOICE)
I think the words of George A. Moore speak a lot about my heart at times: "The wrong way always seems the most reasonable." He also said, "The difficulty in life is the choice." How true! We have lots and lots of paths in life to choose - knowing with a certainty which one is the "right" one is not always as plain as one may think. Some of these paths are choices we make at the spur of the moment, such as when we choose to pick an argument with another over words or actions which just occurred. We don't get a lot of warning, or foreknowledge they are about to happen. It isn't like there is a natural, built-in "early warning system" ready to fire off in our minds which announces we are about to make a really unwise choice. In fact, we have to cultivate our minds in order to create a sense of awareness to these potential pitfalls. It is like the one who is an experienced white-water rafter, able to recognize the patterns of changes in the water, constantly "reading" the horizon to be able to plan how the raft will have to be navigated through those waters.
The rafter observes things like the subtle changes in the pattern of the water's flow, revealing what may be hidden rocks just beneath the surface, causing the waters to divert ever so slightly around that obstacle. He may also observe the change in the horizon where the waters seem totally flat against the walls of the canyon in which the water is flowing, suggesting a sudden drop-off such as a waterfall. Did the rafter know all these things when he set out on the waterway? No, but he develops his senses, such that of listening for a rise in the "roar" of the water, suggesting he is coming upon a place of rapids and tenuous passage. He "tunes in" with all he has - sight, hearing, feel. In turn, he learns to "read" the waters - but not always the first time he passes over them! Sometimes he gets bumped up against some pretty big rocks because he wasn't paying attention!
As our psalmist points out, fixing our minds on learning will go a long way toward helping us develop this "early warning system" we need to navigate around or away from the things in our path which will spell our doom if unnoticed and unheeded. There is no better place to learn what to avoid and how to avoid it, what path must be navigated, etc., than to spend time in God's Word and time allowing that word to take hold in our lives. Too many times we give God's Word a cursory glance or two, thinking we have "spent time" with God in the process. We really aren't taking time to celebrate his testimonies, engage with his instructions, or heed his warnings.
I recently had to buy a new garage door opener because the other one just wore out after 22 years of very good service. In the process, I had to reteach my car to communicate with the new opener. It took a while to figure out the technology wasn't talking to the garage door opener, though. I just kept following the instructions and rereading them to figure out if I missed a step, because it wasn't working. Eventually, I read a little further in the instructions which came with the opener to realize I may need something referred to as a "learning repeater". The car wasn't "learning" the signal, so it needed this repeater device to "teach" it to receive the signal. I think maybe we are all a little like my car as it comes to learning how to make things work in our lives. It isn't that a signal isn't being sent by God, it is that we aren't able to receive it until we get a "repeater" working to help us learn it! Just sayin!