There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 16:25
I have heard and quoted this verse so many times in my life, but it really didn’t mean a whole lot to me because, first of all, I was already “saved” so it didn’t apply to me any longer regarding that. And of course I was trusting God for the leading of my life – going into vocational ministry and all.
But this past few years, and especially this last, I have come to realize that I still was keeping control of so many areas of my life. And in fact may unknowingly still be doing so. I had developed deeply embedded coping skills to manage hurts and pains from my childhood. And even though I would pray about it, “trust” God for His answers and help, I kept on my path thinking my ways were succeeding or enough. How foolish and useless. Cuz as Dr Phil says, How’s that working for you?” My answer? Not so well. I still would find my responses were more like reactions. Rather than truly dealing with issues, I would mask them or self-medicate with food. It all seemed right. I spoke the Christianese and I love God, so how could it not be? But I found myself going round and round the same issues with no resolve. For the longest time I wasn’t even aware I was even in need of some healing. But eventually I did allow God to show me I had some issues, and once He did, I was ready to work some things out.
Praise God for His patient grace! That we are in a process of change and becoming. That He is wise and loving and knows we are frail and take time to made complete. It’s easy to think we are disappointing Him and making Him mad and that He may get so frustrated with our (lack of) progress that He drop-kicks us away. But that is most definitely not God. He is long-suffering and His love never fails and He forgives and forgives and forgives yet again. So if you find yourself struggling over and over with the same sin issues or patterns of behavior that don’t move you closer to God or find yourself saying, “Why does this keep happening?”, instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself, am I working my plan or God’s. I can pretty confidently tell you it is yours! But you need to own that and then figure out God’s. For me it took more than prayer and Bible reading. I needed outside sources to help me connect the dots and I needed to trust God enough to let others have that kind of access into my life, past, pains and psyche. I think that is needed for all of us, cuz if we could figure it out on our won, we likely would have already. But we are on our own plan that seems right.
I think it originated from Rick Warren, but at our church we say, “It’s not your position, but your direction that matters”. And by that such amazing grace can be experienced. Because none of us are in the “perfect” position yet, but as long as we are in the direction pointed to a desire to be like Jesus, then there should be no guilt or condemnation from self or others. Because certainly there is none for our God.
That, however, is not license to just be a blob where you are at. We do need to suck it up, put our big boy pants on, and lean in to being/becoming mature. Don’t beat yourself up, but also don’t give yourself a continual pass. Grace has no problem or conflict with effort. The key being an effort working God’s plan, not ours. One of the major lessons I have learned and hinted to at the beginning, is that even though I thought I was trusting God, I really had not been. And even though God had broken open huge areas of my life, I still have not arrived. So what else am I unaware of? What more is God going to work out in me? The more I trust, the more I see I need to trust. The healthier I become, the more I see I need to become healthy.
Do I think everyone is unhealthy and has such issues? Of course not. But I do think that everyone has to mature and lean into maturing and that takes more and more trusting and less and less relying our ways that seem right. In that process perhaps we discover we were less healthy than we thought. But most definitely we will all discover that we need to decrease so He can increase. And that won’t happen until we let go of what seems right for what is really right.