Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Take heed to the path of your feet,
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27)
In a world of constant distraction (oh, wait! text message to check!), this week's proverb speaks volumes. How often do we find ourselves at the end of the day wondering what good we have done and what, really, have we accomplished? The house is a mess (but we cleaned for hours!), the to-do list still looks a mile long (but we didn't sit down all day!), we feel like all we've done is put out consecutive fires right in front of us instead of planning with purpose (oh, the drama!).
What happened to the path? Where did it go?
As advice for faith and for achieving goals, Proverbs 4:25-27 is excellent, but like a lot of the wisdom in Proverbs, the advice here is situational, not universal. If the Good Samaritan only looked ahead, he would not have seen the Jew lying bloody and beaten on the side of the road. God calls us to swerve right or left in His cause of love and compassion in the world, but He never, ever calls us to swerve to evil. His way is straight, even if it twists and turns us in directions we may not want to go!
Take heed to the path at your feet. Discerning the path of love and compassion--the path God wants you to walk--is where wisdom lies.
How do we follow that path? How do we find it and stay on it? I'm reminded of Paul's words in Philippians 3:14: "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Keeping our eyes on Jesus is challenging in our world of distraction and busyness.
A few things scripture tells us to do when things get crazy and the path gets lost...
1. Pray. In all things, pray. Too often, our prayers become laundry lists of things we want God to do, but what about praying for God to show us what He wants us to do? Prayer isn't just our words to God, it's His words to us. It's a conversation. We need to be quiet and listen.
2. Be in Christian Community. God uses us to influence others, and He uses others to influence us. Pride makes us think we can or should handle our problems ourselves, but pride is a sin...a deadly one at that. Take your concerns to your Christian community, especially when the secular world is intruding on your life and distracting you. Talk to a good friend, ask for advice, listen carefully. Pray together. Wherever two or more are gathered in His name, there He is. Above all, do not suffer alone!
3. Read Scripture. Occasionally, opening your Bible at random yields something useful, but as with prayer, reading scripture is an ongoing conversation with God. The world promises quick fixes, but God's time is His to control. As we learn to read scripture over time and grow in faith, we learn to see God working in the world and in our lives. Dedicated study over time yields the best benefits toward that upward call.
What other advice do you have for keeping to God's path? When have you strayed from the path and been called back? How did you find the path forward again?