Psalm 37:5-6 (the message)
Open up before God, keep nothing back;
he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.
Psalm 37:23-24 (the message)
Stalwart walks in step with God;
his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down long;
God has a grip on his hand.
As the sun shines bright through my kitchen windows this Saturday morning I relish the verses above. The Bible is a book like no other. The God-inspired words are meant to comfort, lead, direct and validate who we are in Christ. I understand the struggle for those who pick it up with good intentions yet feel overwhelmed and confused when they try to read it. Two simple and practical suggestions: first, make sure you have a version you can understand. God wants you to understand what you are reading! Obviously, I read The Message paraphrase a lot, but I also use the New International Version (NIV), The Amplified Bible and the New Living Translation (NLT). Secondly, and most importantly, ask God to give you understanding and speak to your heart as you read the Bible. If you are a born-again believer, Holy Spirit dwells within…the author of the book!…and He is there to guide you into truth. The more time we spend with God, the more time we take to talk with Him and open up our lives fully, the greater our understanding of His Word.
As for me, the verses above sing to me this morning! When we open up our lives before God, when we hold nothing back from Him, we can trust that God is in control. God will do what needs to be done in us and for us. When our lives are surrendered to God, He validates us. He validates the desires we hold inside as He works in our lives. Why? Because when we live surrendered before our Creator, He plants desires in our hearts for His perfect will. It’s like a beautiful dance, really. I’m not saying you don’t ever have to choose to obey God despite your feelings or fear, but I am saying that when we fall in love with Jesus, our heart’s desire becomes for more of Him. And in our pursuit of more, God takes a hold of our hearts and shapes desire on the inside for what He has planned. A synergistic display of a surrendered life and a loving God.
As we learn to lean into God’s leading, as we experience more of the power and passion in living for Jesus, we grow into stalwart believers and as described above, we begin to walk in step with God. What better path could we walk than one “blazed by God?” Perhaps you aren’t sure. Perhaps you fear that walking a life-path blazed by God would require more self-denial than you can handle. Perhaps you think it would be boring! Perhaps you are convinced that you are so far off the God-path for your life you could never get back. I write this blog simply to say I have been there. I have especially lived with a sad resignation that I had strayed too far away from God’s perfect will for my life to get back. I thought I would just “make do” with the path I was on. This is why the verses above touch my heart so this morning.
It is never too late. A life of true surrender and Jesus-following is anything but boring. And there is no habit, sin, past mistake or indulgence that will top what living with your Creator’s presence is like. The Creator of everything you see…the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow…longs to lead you. He longs to speak into your life, heal your heart and let a passion burn on the inside of you that transforms mundane, mediocre living into stalwart following. When I really threw my lot in with Jesus, out of great need, my life went from a predictable path of self-reliance and the resulting failure and frustration to a life full of twists and turns…unexpected and amazing recoveries! My marriage…recovered! My mothering…recovered! God’s call and will for my life…recovered! And you know where it all started? In a broken heart…a shell of a woman desperate for wholeness and stability. Fearful for the life my children would not have because I didn’t know how to give it to them. Completely discouraged with the ruts and cycles my husband and I had carved out for ourselves. Flailing in deep waters of regret.
One day I was introduced to the band Jesus Culture, Kim Walker-Smith in particular. One of their songs…”How He Loves Us” has the following lyrics: I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us…Oh how He loves us. If you suffer regret, if you think you are too far off the “right” path, let me encourage you God loves you more than any sin, mistake or regret. Like a lightbulb coming on, when I understood the lyrics of that song I wept like a baby…over and over again. I finally understood I don’t have to work so hard to nurture regret. I am forgiven. God doesn’t want me to waste my time with it. See, He has plans! So now, I realize that once I throw my all in with Jesus, life becomes far too exciting to spend my time “maintaining” my regrets.
No matter where you have been or where you find yourself as you read this post, God is ready to blaze a new path for you! “Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done…” There is healing, purpose and recovery for you on a path of fully surrendered Jesus-following. For sure, you won’t regret it!