I recently began playing a new word game on my phone. It’s like a word find and Tetris® combined. As each string of letter tiles is selected, forming one of the mystery words below, those tiles disappear and the others drop down. One level of the game was especially frustrating. I had easily found the first couple of words, and thought for sure that the last word must be “ocean”. Yet no matter how hard I tried, after selecting the other words in several different ways, I couldn’t get the remaining tiles to drop in the right places and spell that word. It drove me nuts wondering what else it could be. Finally, in desperation, I begrudgingly used a hint and discovered the first letter wasn’t even “O”! I adjusted my strategy and solved the puzzle. The word was canoe.
I’ve learned that sometimes life is like that. We get ahead of God, thinking we know what the next step is, but don’t consult Him first. Or we hastily pray, yet move forward with what we believe or what we want to be the next step. Sometimes it’s out of comfort, but often we pridefully think we know what’s right. Sooner or later, we notice that things just aren’t falling into place the way we thought they would. No matter what we do, it doesn’t quite match up. We realize we’ve missed something somewhere and only succeeded in stressing ourselves out, or worse, hurt others in the process.
We all stray occasionally, and to one degree or another. The great news is: regardless of how long the rabbit trail goes, while we are still on this earth, it’s never too late to redirect when we’ve veered off track. God is quick to forgive and His wisdom is always available to all who ask (James 1:5).
Decisions and struggles are all opportunities to trust God and to build our relationship with the Creator of the stars and universe. We can either choose to let our experiences strengthen our faith or to break us down. Trusting God develops the muscle memory of our faith. Each time we seek His will, then see Him work in and through us, it becomes easier and more natural to trust His wisdom instead of ours the next time. And the next time. That’s one reason why God’s Word tells us to pray continually and in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Many of my decisions for the past several years have actually sprung out of a survival instinct and limited thinking, not pride. However, now that things have improved on that front, it could be tempting to “rest on my laurels”, assuming that I can coast along on my own, or that “I’m good” now. Wrong! They are HIS laurels! I’ve made it this far only by holding on to Him, surrendering myself and seeking His will in all things, not just in the midst of problems. I’ve worked my faith muscles so well that I’m actually afraid of what might happen if I took matters in my own hands!
One of my favorite scripture verses sums up what our daily faith walk should look like: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
It’s Not About Me
Overall, personally I have to keep reminding myself that life really isn’t about me. Once I decided to follow Jesus, every aspect of my life is to be under His lordship. If I let my own selfish wants and desires take control, I’m ignoring His power in my life and won’t get the full blessings that are available. And I really want those blessings! That’s not to say we can’t enjoy good things in life, and not every decision is that crucial; it’s simply that nothing else and no one but God should have ultimate sway in our lives. It’s about the condition of our heart and our overall focus.
Here’s a poem I wrote that expresses the child-like faith and softness of heart that God delights in:
You fill my soul with healing,
You commence my heart to sing;
All to You I am revealing,
though You already know everything.
I give You, this day, my heart of clay
Each hour, my life to mold;
For when You have complete control
the most glorious things unfold.
So I lay down my all at Your feet,
not knowing on my own what is best;
But as I pull my hands free, I’m reassured
that with You, I’ll always be blessed.
Let’s pursue God’s best for our lives by staying in His Word and praying before making decisions, especially important ones. Learn to recognize when we foolishly start getting ahead of His will, then get out of His way and let Him lead. Only then can the great things He has planned out for us be brought to fruition.
Commit your way to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (v. 3).
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