Wednesday, September 26, 2007

in all thy ways

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Proverbs 3:5-6

Just as pressure tests strength, adversity shows us where our trust lies. I'm not talking about making a conscious decision in the midst of trouble to trust God. I'm talking about discovering where we're already leaning. When rough situations come up, do we rely on ourselves to fix everything or panic because this is beyond our understanding? Or is our first thought one of trust in God?

Trust isn't just a one-time choice. It's a lifetime thing, built up every day as we relate to the one we're trusting.

Solomon tells us to acknowledge God in all our ways. Not only in good times or in bad, not only in our religious observances, but in all our ways. This relates to the choices we make. If we acknowledge God in our choices, we will work from a moral foundation and do what is right. We will look beyond our own desires and seek to please our Father in Heaven.

It also relates to the way we think. It means paying attention to God's hand in the world. Do you acknowledge God in the sunrise? Do you acknowledge Him in the breaths you take? Do you see His wisdom in your studies and His goodness in your relationships? When you react against an evil thing, do you consciously acknowledge God's judgment and righteousness?

As we acknowledge God's presence, we will come to trust Him more. We can't help it, because His very nature inspires trust. And He promises, in turn, that He will direct our paths.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

turned away

"When wisdom entereth thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee;

"To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths."

Proverbs 2:10-15

Solomon speaks from the position of Master: a teacher, a father, one who has seen things and desires, with all his heart, that his children should also see them. But it is not enough--it is never enough--to force wisdom in front of a child's face. Unless it enters his heart, it will not change him. Unless he takes pleasure in what he sees, he'll stop looking at it.

I hear a father's heart in Solomon's teaching. It's not wisdom for wisdom's sake he promotes here, but the true understanding that will preserve, keep, and deliver his children from the ways of darkness.

This passage uses a good old word that has fallen almost entirely out of use, but in Proverbs it could be seen as a more deliberate and aggressive sort of foolishness: "froward." According to Merriam-Webster, "froward" comes from Middle English and literally means "turned away." It describes one who is "habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition."

We use many words to describe froward people. Stubborn. Rebellious. It's tragic because froward people turn away good things from themselves just as assuredly as they turn away from others. Have you ever watched people deliberately, knowingly make destructive choices?

Ultimately, the froward person only wants "his own way"--and his own way, invariably, is whatever everyone else does not want for him. Our culture idolizes people who are so thoroughly independent, but in real life most of us don't like to be around them. Solomon calls the way of the froward crooked, evil, and dark. In the end, the way of those who have turned aside is no way at all.