Posts on Jamaica Beach at sunrise - Galveston, TX

Self-imposed blindness

God has a plan. Did you realize that? I mean, I think everyone realizes it, but it’s one thing to realize it and it’s something else to live like it.

God can see everything. Time has no meaning to Him; He created time. Distance or separation has no meaning to Him because He is everywhere. There’s nothing He doesn’t know. And there’s nothing He can’t do. So with that kind of a Person, Someone with that kind of intel, at our disposal, don’t you think it’s a good idea to listen to what He has to say?

Posts on Jamaica Beach at sunrise - Galveston, TX

Posts on Jamaica Beach at sunrise – Galveston, TX

Today’s verse is Proverbs 29:18.

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.
    But whoever obeys the law is joyful.

I love Proverbs. They’re always so blunt and straightforward. And this is very true. When people try to live life without listening to what God has said, their lives spin out of control. Maybe not a first, but it’s inevitable.

I get curious, though, when I think I understand all that a verse is saying the first time I read through it, so I always end up checking the verse in other translations too. So this is the same verse in the Amplified Version:

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.

I thought this was interesting. The New Living Translation indicates that when people reject God’s Word, they will have no stability. But the Amplified Version is a little harsher. According to the Amplified Version, when people don’t have Scripture (that’s what the “redemptive revelation of God” refers to), they will die. It’s a similar concept, but it’s just enough different that I thought it merited a jump over to the Message.

The Message is my favorite paraphrase, mainly because it usually is able to communicate the meaning and context of the original language in a modern way. So this is the same verse in the Message:

If people can’t see what God is doing,
   they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
   they are most blessed.

When people don’t accept divine guidance — Where there is no vision — If people can’t see what God is doing. Rejection. Ignorance. Blindness. Maybe it’s phrased in three different ways, but really the core of this verse comes down to one thought:

Without God, we’re lost. Without God, we have no direction, we have no purpose, we have no life.

That’s a simple concept, one that every believer accepts without question superficially. But do we really believe it? Because if we really believed it, our lives would look different, our families would look different, our country would look different.

Believers aren’t immune from rejecting God’s direction. As much as I hate to admit it, I do it all the time. God tells me to love people more than I love myself, and sometimes I’m better at it than others. But more often, I end up acting selfishly.

And I think most of the time we’re content to exist in ignorance of God’s will. We’ve convinced ourselves that God’s will is too difficult to find or that if we are able to find it, He will ask something of us that we’re unwilling to give. So we don’t even try.

And if you reject direction and live in ignorance, the only way you can be described is blind. And blind people can’t see where they’re going. It’s the same with families. It’s the same with churches. And it’s the same with countries.

Without God, we’re lost.

God has given us direction in Scripture, and if we believe in Him, we have a responsibility to do what He says, to live the way He has instructed, to be the kind of people He tells us we ought to be.

If we reject that direction, if we ignore that truth and live in self-imposed blindness to God’s plan, we will flail about with no stability and no purpose. And after living for an extended period of time with no purpose, you will lose hope.

So if you know Scripture, don’t ignore it. If you don’t know Scripture, start reading and do what it says. The Bible is God’s Word to us, to tell us how to live, to show us what He expects from us. Scripture tells us our purpose: to live for God.

And once you understand that you really do have a purpose, that you really can follow God’s directions, something pretty awesome happens. You find joy. And joy is better than any perceived freedom you think you’ve gained by flipping God off.

Tripping over your own feet

Living a Christian life is counter-intuitive to our own common sense. Did you realize that? So much of what we think we should do in our own strength is exactly what we shouldn’t do if we want to live the kind of life Christ did.

I mean, think of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. The people who are happy are the poor, the meek, the unfortunate, the sorrowful.

Say good things about your enemies. Pray for people who manipulate you. Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile for your oppressors. Forgive.

Does any of that sound intuitive to you? It doesn’t to me. My first instinct when I get my feelings hurt is to hurt the perpetrator back, not to turn around and say good things about them. And I don’t want to pray for people who use me. And I don’t want to work myself to death for someone who’s just going to hurt me in the end.

But . . . Jesus did.

Today’s verse is Psalm 25:14-15.

14 The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
      He teaches them his covenant.
 15 My eyes are always on the Lord,
      for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.

There’s a lot to cover in this passage, but the part that stood out to me this morning is verse 15.

Okay. I’m a fairly clumsy person. It’s not uncommon for me to run into things on the rare occasion. I’m not as bad as some people I know, but I’m certainly not the most graceful person in the world either. Just get me to try to mount a horse or ride in a canoe and you’ll find out how awkward I am. But walking doesn’t generally give me any trouble, unless there are a lot of obstacles on the ground.

I went to a writing workshop in Colorado in June of this year with my best buddy, Katie Morford, and we hiked up a mountain trail to take pictures. Well, I learned a long time ago that my asthma, though it is better than it was when I was a child, still loves to flare up in low-oxygen environments. And the only way I can keep going in a situation like that is if I look at my feet. If I try to walk like I normally do, over rocks and roots and beautiful bubbling streams, I will step wrong and fall on my face. I actually did fall during that hike, but I caught myself with one hand on a rock and the other on my camera to keep it from smashing into the ground.

I have to watch my feet. I have to second guess every step because my brain stops working. I can’t look at my destination because if I focus on where I’m going I won’t be able to get there. I have to focus on how I get there, where I step, how big of a step to take, how solid the ground is, how wiggly the rocks are, how tired my legs are, how much tread is on my twelve-year-old boots.

How many of us Christians are just stumbling through life? How many of us are bound to watch our feet and watch our step because if we dare to look up we’re scared that we’ll fall?

Here’s where Psalm 25:15 comes in. The Message, a paraphrase but a good translation, translates this verse:

15 If I keep my eyes on God,
   I won’t trip over my own feet.

What makes sense when you’re traveling rocky ground is to watch your feet to make sure that you don’t step wrong. That’s instinctive. What isn’t instinctive is to keep your eyes on your destination.

Living a Christian life isn’t easy. It’s hard. It’s harder than anything else. Becoming a Christian is easy. Living like one is a challenge. The ground is rocky and full of pits and traps, and my instinctive reaction when walking through a minefield is to stare at my feet. But that means that I’m trusting myself to get me through safely. And I can’t trust myself because I don’t know where I’m going. (I’m the person who got lost in Wal-Mart when their store designers moved the Katie Lee section.) I don’t know all the plans God has for me and for my life, and I have to look to Him constantly so that He can show me where I’m supposed to go.

I can’t watch my feet and His direction at the same time.

So the only thing to do is the counter-intuitive thing to do. To watch Him and trust that He won’t let me step wrong. If I’m watching Him and if I’m trusting Him for every step I take, He won’t let me stand on a loose rock or a weak bridge over a pit or step on a mine. If I watch Him and follow His directions, He will take me down safe paths. They won’t be easy and they may not be comfortable, but no matter where the path goes or how it gets me there, I will be safer with Him than I ever would be following my own directions.

And if I keep my eyes on Him, He will keep me from tripping over my own feet. If I keep my eyes on Him, He will prevent me from making mistakes I shouldn’t make.

And the awesome thing about God is that even if I’ve been following myself it’s not too late for me. God is big enough to pull me out of any pit I’ve fallen into. All I have to do is look to Him, and He will rescue me and put me on the safe path.