I’ve written before about my deep and lasting struggle over the choices made in life that wound and harm and from which no good comes. It seems over time human beings would see what brings about the worst kind of strife and would turn away from such pursuits and seek the good path.
So many times I’ve gone back to Proverbs and read these words, “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” (4:5-9) I love that thought…what could possibly be more wonderful than an ornament of grace and a crown of glory? I can honestly say there is nothing in this world that I would choose above the gift of an ornament of grace…
Again and again we find the ravages of sin and see the innocent who suffer in its wake. My heart saddens most days as I read or hear of another tale of childhood innocence and trust snatched forever away by the choices of adults who were meant to be protectors and providers. How do we ever get so far from wisdom, so far from instruction, so far from understanding? What could possibly matter more than honoring God, living a meaningful life, caring for and delighting in the precious gift of children?
Proverbs 4 goes on to say, “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble…attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (9-23) I feel the urgency of the writer and sense the intensity of his passion concerning this truth each time I revisit this scripture passage. Such caution and for warning to avoid evil is explicitly detailed, and with good reason given the gravity of the fallout for those who refuse the counsel. The writer did all he could do…he clearly warned.
Oh the heart…I’ve heard a million times over the course of my life, “follow your heart.” Scripture tells us to “guard our hearts with all diligence.” It also tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” and asks, “who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The old stony heart of one who isn’t committed to God is indeed deceitful. Once we have the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit living inside “a new heart” as a result of salvation, then we are to guard it diligently by following the good path wherein we are to seek to do no harm, to love God and to love one another.
To anyone whose eyes fall upon these words who happen to be living in turmoil, especially if there are children in your homes, STOP! Fall on your knees and find your way to the God of all grace. Begin the journey toward a life and home of peace! My goodness, there is no going back. Your children will grow up, they will leave home, and they will take with them what you gave them. They will likely believe what you taught them to believe about themselves, about the world, about God…Every child should be taught the truth about who they are. They are precious gifts created by God and entrusted to the care of earthly parents for a time, but ultimately they are children of the Lord. They are ALL so very precious in His sight. How tragic that some are taught to believe otherwise and treated with less than loving care and gentle guidance.
If you know the Lord, then live as one who is forgiven, as one who is redeemed. What does that look like? It looks like humility. It looks like gratefulness. It looks like love…it is gentle and kind, tenderhearted and pure. It seeks no harm…It bears good fruit and gives glory to God.
I write as one who has lived in despair, faced hopelessness and confusion and intense emotional pain, so I am no stranger to my subject. Because I have been in darkness and have lived to walk in light, I want to take every opportunity to encourage others to battle on through until you find resolve. I surely don’t mean battle with others! I mean seek with all your heart to know truth, to find peace, to hope without fail. The process of spiritual and emotional growth requires monumental effort, but it is worth the effort. There is great gain, immeasurable benefit, and it is what we are meant to do. Surely the scriptures call us to a diligent process of learning that requires discipline. Through our seeking we gain strength and understanding. It is a beautiful journey when made with a pure heart open to the truth.
God saw me through all of my doubts and fears, many failures and frustrations too many to count. He knew my deepest desires. He led me even when I was too weary to want to see another day. He knew His plans for me were good and how well pleased I would be to find the joy fulfilled that He was intent on giving. All those years ago, I would never have believed there would be a Noah and a Riley, that I would have a job that I love, a husband and home where I find daily comfort and contentment too sweet for words…He knew…He knows, and He is good.
For all who long and haven’t found that for which you crave, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the [one] who trusts in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)