Lean On

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What do you lean on?

One of my favorite passages and promises in Scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”

I know It’s a very well-known verse, and probably appears on as many journal covers, bookmarks and coffee mugs as Joshua 24:15 and Isaiah 40:31. But this weekend, I wanted more from it – to scratch deeper beneath what I’ve gleaned from it so far and chew on it. So, here are my thoughts on it and what I’ve pulled in from other commentators.

I think the main aim of the verse is to walk in a straight path. Meaning, God doesn’t want us to veer off the path into disobedience or into a wasted life or anything that would dishonor Him. Whenever Scripture talks about paths, my mind leaps to John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” and the path into the Slough of Despond and how they veered off the path, which led them to the prison of Giant Despair and Doubting Castle. So, that’s the goal: straight paths; straight to everlasting joy – straight to a God-honoring life.

There appear to be 3 steps to get there:

1) Trust in the Lord with all your heart. We need to bank on the promises of God – making our lives a moment-by-moment trusting in a good, all-powerful, unchanging, loving, all-providing and all-satisfying God. Brandon Barker, one of the spiritual formation pastors at The Village Church – Dallas Northway campus, said something Sunday evening I’ll never forget: “Some of us don’t lack boldness, we lack trust.”

2) Don’t rely on your own understanding. This is a conscious choice NOT to be self-reliant (why can’t this just be easier? The battle of self vs. God – so messy). To say to self, “Self, you are inadequate. Brain, you can’t come up with enough wisdom on your own.” I feel especially in the last few weeks that the Lord has been trying to break me of this. Now, getting away from self-reliance doesn’t mean you don’t make plans or don’t think…you just don’t bank on them. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:31) — James 4:13-15 also comes to mind. So, in the midst of our planning, thinking, etc., we’re leaning on something else and not leaning on our own resources. What a tight rope and balance.

3) In all your ways acknowledge Him. In Hebrew, this reads: In all your ways KNOW Him. At every turn, at every choice you make, at every new conversation you’re in….you’re sending up the message: “God, I acknowledge you here. I know you here. You are decisive here. I need you here.”

And if we follow those, and trust Him, He’s going to make our paths straight – going to keep us from wasting our lives and bring us into everlasting joy.

How AWESOME is that truth?! So, lean on – lean on the Lord.

(Note: ok, I admit I was trying to get clever and play off the book title “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, even though it doesn’t remotely relate – har har.)

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Live Before You Leap

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” – Shakespeare

In the span of a year, I have had many “firsts” – so I only thought it befitting to continue the theme. I’ve never blogged on a Leap Day in a Leap Year. Ok, that’s not really the reason I was prompted to blog, but I thought it a fun circumstantial bonus.

Earlier this evening, before I embarked upon my four-mile run on the Katy Trail, I posted a status on Facebook that mentioned that the month of February, and I don’t have a good track record and how I couldn’t wait for this month to just be over. The mind is a beautiful thing – how my thoughts string together – especially when I’m running. I think it’s one of the reasons I love the times God gives me to go for a run. I get alone with Him, my music and my thoughts.

It was good, albeit hard, to be back on the trail after fighting off this upper respiratory infection that knocked the stuffing out of me. After limbering up, I was off. I’m trying to get a few runs in before running a last-minute 5K this weekend for the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in downtown. In running, I noticed for the first time how EVERYONE I passed by was a couple (male and female) walking or running together. Let me walk you through my train of thoughts. First: “Seriously, Lord?” eyes rolling – 10 second pity party commences. Second: “Awww, I hope that’s me one day with a man who enjoys working out with me” attempting the positive. Third: “Weird. I’m the only lone woman out here tonight. Probably stupid.” thinking it through.

All these ponderings, the replaying of past memories and my Facebook status (mentioned above) brought to mind a recent happening that took place around dawn a few nights ago. I can’t really call it a dream…perhaps more of a revelation and out of body experience. It shook me to my core and made me despair and in my despair, I ran to Him and found hope. Ah, yes, the “revelation”:

Bad, haunting, vivid dreams hurt my insides, but I couldn’t escape them. My body yearned for rest, the meds were doping me up, my sinuses were excruciating – so much pressure and fluid in my head and ears – my body was screaming for relief. My nose was thankful for Afrin. Propped up on pillows I could feel my body tossing. “Go away!” my heart was crying to the dreams, and yet a sick part of me didn’t want to see them go. I suddenly awoke, almost gasping, hot and drenched with my covers cocooned around me. I realized groggily I left the floor heater on. I got up to switch it off and grabbed a bottled water from the pantry, gingerly feeling my way in the dark. Back in bed. I prayed for rest and to not be anxious about work the next day. I dozed off. Suddenly, I felt myself slowly awake with this realization I was suddenly 50 (waking up in bed as that age) and I couldn’t remember if I had kids, a husband, etc. Even worse, I couldn’t remember what I had done with my life or where it had gone. It’s like I was robbed of the years between 24 and 50, because I was in such a hurry to want God to find me a man, marriage, etc. As my senses become more alert, I heaved a sigh of relief and realized I was still 24 and in bed.

It caused me to realize more than ever about myself (I’m sure you can relate) that I either dredge up the past to either daydream or beat myself up, and I look ahead and am in a hurry to LEAP ahead to the future (yeah, I thought my use of “leap” was clever), thinking things will be better there. I’m in a hurry with my job, life ambitions, etc. I become caught up in them. Don’t get me wrong, having set goals and working towards them aren’t necessarily a bad thing – as long as I first go toward THE Goal (of the upward calling in Christ Jesus). It’s all about perspective and looking at life through His lens and not mine. Trust.

Bottom-line I realized: Live your life in the present. Enjoy every season to its fullest. It will pass by quicker than the twinkling of an eye. “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes” (James 1:9-11). I don’t want to be in such a hurry to LIVE that I miss LIVING. And not just “living” but LEVERAGING my life, right now, for Christ. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time, because the days are evil.”

Shalom,

Rachel B. Duke