Saturday, August 25, 2018

Avoiding the Alleyway of Folly

There are tons of things that attempt to get my attention each and every day. The influences we have all around us on a daily basis attempt to tell us how to live our lives, promising us all kinds of enjoyment, fulfillment, and financial peace of mind. These influences vary from the voices of those deemed 'trusted' by others in society, to those we have deemed 'trusted' by us individually. While all of these sources of 'counsel' may be 'valid', not all of them will be as good as that counsel we receive at the hand of God. Listening to God is the only true means of finding the answers to things that are troubling us at the moment. Turning to some of the things or 'unreliable' ways we find 'counsel' in is much like us allowing shooting craps - we might beat the odds, then again we might not!

I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly.  (Psalm 85:8)

Sometimes we are not very aware of what it is that we are listening to - we just listen to whatever has the loudest or most compelling voice at the time. We are reminded that we need to examine who and what we are listening to. We are responsible for what we hear and how we respond to what we hear. If we listen and heed the voice of the world's counsel, we are listening to the wrong voice, and our path will reflect that 'unproven' and 'unwise' counsel. The world's voice works in the realm of our logic - appealing to our own ability to reason things out when we feel we have enough information to make an 'informed decision'. The voice of God is focused on good and perfect things that sometimes seem to be illogical in the scheme of things, but what may appear to be illogical may actually be the most logical choice.

Whenever we don't listen to the voice of God, we get out of step with him - we get out of the eternal plan of God. Yes, we are working on the here and now, but all our actions today are leading us toward the bigger picture of eternity. God often speaks to us, imparting his wisdom in our very normal activities - just the regular stuff of life. God's Word has power for those who listen and receive that Word. Our flesh works against the Word a great deal of the time - suppressing the truth contained there so that it will not have the full impact on us. God has always wanted a separated people - a listening and intentional people. When we think of being a separated people, the ultimate goal is that we would listen only to his voice, coming to a place where sin is just not tolerated in our lives, and knowing when a certain path of choice will lead us down alleyways of folly. Listening involves both the physical instrument of hearing (the ear) and the spiritual instrument (the heart). God wants us to listen with both. 


God desires a people that will cry out to him in times of despair, exalt him in times of increase, and share the regular stuff of life with him in the status quo. It might go without saying, but we have to share to be heard - we have to listen to hear. When we listen, we find that God has something to say. His Spirit is still alive - making us what we cannot be on our own. If we listen, we tap into that power, authority, and wisdom that comes only from the throne of a holy God. Ears to listen keep us from turning to folly - those costly and foolish undertakings that end up being an unwise investment of our time, talent, or resources. How much aggravation could we have saved ourselves if we had listened better? How much time have we spent "doing over" what we could have done right the first time if we'd just taken time to gain God's perspective first? God is pointing us in that direction - listen first, act second.

We would do well to examine both who it is that we are listening to and how it is that we are applying ourselves to listening. Listening to the right source (God is the only reliable source) is equally as important at listening with intent (being obedient to what it is we hear). The alleyways of folly will always beckon to us, but there is no shortcut to obedience - no quick way to some of the things that only come with consistent and focused effort. Just sayin!