The connection between between the first steps we take in making a decision and its final outcome often seems unrelated. Walking the path of wisdom or the way of foolishness has domino effects far greater than we can imagine.
For us, a disciplined intake of Scripture certainly promises wisdom. But wisdom offers a course of action, not just a course of instruction.
The book of Proverbs reveals the outcome of the pathways we are walking. And it tells us how to stay on the path of wisdom.
There is only one way you will know God’s will for you this year. Relatively speaking, that’s the easy part. But once you know it, then comes the tough assignment: choosing to walk in it.
From the first verse of Scripture, God revealed how the Earth set the stage for the divine drama of history to take place (Gen. 1:1). From its formless, void beginning, the Lord fashioned the Earth with His intention in its details. From this ground, God made physical people spiritual beings in His image.
Finding and following God’s will was no different for Adam and Eve than it is for us.
We have the same problem they did.
It’s always easier to react to life rather than to shape it. To go with the flow rather than to dig a new trench. Obviously, we want to respond well to what life throws at us. It’s assumed we should do that.
But I believe God gives us help to choose the direction of our lives. To live intentionally for Him. I don’t mean we choose what happens to us, but rather, that God has given us the freedom to make significant choices in spite of our circumstances.
Jesus’ example shows us what choices to make to live intentionally for God.
Two questions can help us do that.
Most days it seems we never have enough. Between the bills, the home upkeep, and the car repairs, it’s tough just to stay afloat. Often, amazingly, God rigs it this way.
This tension is nothing new for a people who believe God will provide. In fact, an unusual custom gives insight into why we are means seem so meager.
After settling in the Promised Land, God allowed His people to work the land. But every seventh year, God said, “the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord” (Lev. 25:4) and lie fallow.
- This Sabbatical Year allowed for the forgiveness of all debts, and any food that grew went to the poor and to the wild animals.
- Then every 50 years, on the year of Jubilee, the land not only rested but also returned to its ancestral owners. And all slaves walked free.
- However, in 586 B.C., after God’s people failed to observe the Sabbatical Year for 490 years, God exiled them for the 70 special years they failed to give the land (2 Chron. 36:20-21).
All this was to show that the land belonged to God, not to those who lived on it (Lev. 25:23). Although they worked the land, they believed God will provide, and He made them stop working to prove He would. For even when they rested, God supplied (Ps. 127:2).
Here’s why the same is true for us.
Where God places us is no accident. Throughout biblical history, the land of Israel sat in an amazingly strategic position as the only intercontinental land bridge between the superpowers of the ancient world.
The most important international highway of the Fertile Crescent ran the length of the land of Israel.
Some call this international highway the Via Maris, or the “Way of the Sea.”
Any nation coming to or from Egypt, or traveling from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Aqaba, had to go through Israel. For many years, Israel remained the crossroads for international imperialism, war, and trade.
It’s hard to believe at first, but this highway offers a practical principle for our daily lives.
It’s all about influence.
The awesomeness of creation exists as more than beauty for us to observe. In spite of the chaos in our culture, the world screams of order in its origin. Its predictable seasons and trustworthy laws of nature reveal wisdom in its design.
(Photo by http://www.ForestWander.com (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons)
The wisdom of creation we see is explained in the Bible we read. Wisdom played such an integral role in creation that the author of Proverbs 8 personifies it as a person present with God:
Before the hills I was brought forth . . . When He established the heavens, I was there . . . When He marked out the foundations of the earth; then I was beside Him, as a master workman. —Proverbs 8:25–33
God’s wisdom displayed in the wonders we see also proves His wisdom in all areas of life.
Including the painful ones.
I’ll never forget the day when one of my daughters learned to ride her bike without training wheels. (The “fall” was an appropriate season for this event.)
As she sped down a hill toward a huge ravine, I saw written all over her face the message: “I’m not in control!”
(Photo: Monkey Business Images, via Vivozoom)
As she raced by me, I reached out and lifted her off the bike—saving her from the ravine but causing her to fall. As the bike launched into the abyss, my rescued daughter hopped up hotter than a hornet!
“Why did you do that, Daddy?!” To answer, I simply pointed to the bottomless gorge I saved her from. But that didn’t matter. All she could see was that I caused her to fall.
Years later, I pondered how we can carry this same attitude into our relationship with God.
Everything was going so well. A good job. Promising future. Nice place to live. Health in good shape. Peace among peers. Then God got involved, and it all changed.
(Photo: David Gallaher, via Vivozoom)
Ever had that happen? Me too. So did Israel of old.
The Hebrews sought opulent furniture, the finest food, first-class entertainment, the best wine and perfumes. But they did not seek the Lord.
Sometimes God invades our comfortable lives. He has His reasons.
Sometimes I wish Google Maps could give me traveling directions for life. You know, sometimes it might help in knowing God’s will for, say, the next thirty years?
Image by Google.
Wouldn’t it be nice if knowing God’s will for your life was that easy?
- Imagine if we could zoom out to see the big picture.
- Or zoom in to get the details.
- Turn by turn, where we’re going, and how long it takes to get there.
For many of us, our problem isn’t our eternal destination—heaven. (Though, if you’re not sure about that, you’ll want to firm that up today.) I tried searching for “Heaven” in Google Maps, but it’s not there. But I located “Hell” in Michigan. (I guess it does freeze over after all.)
But God’s will isn’t necessarily a complete mystery.
Finding God’s will for your life often seems perplexing. However, God has made it clear to what every believer should devote himself or herself.
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