Friday, September 03, 2010

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

"This is what the LORD says—
       your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
       "I am the LORD your God,
       who teaches you what is best for you,
       who directs you in the way you should go.
 18 If only you had paid attention to my commands,
       your peace would have been like a river,
       your righteousness like the waves of the sea."  Isaiah 48:17-18

This morning I read verse seventeen here, and I thought, gee, that's a good verse.  Then I read it again a few times, and it felt like it bolstered me a bit.  Especially the part where it says this:

       "I am the LORD your God,
       who teaches you what is best for you,
       who directs you in the way you should go."

Yes.  He is God- and He knows exactly what He wants for us- but it's up to us to not get smack dab in the way of what God wants for us.  Because then I read on to verse eighteen, and I just felt such a sense of remorse.  It begins with "if only" and then when you add more to it, it says "if only you had paid attention".  Oh my.  That it not something that I ever want to hear from God.  That is definitely not a conversation I hope to ever have with God.  One of those ones where you're hanging around, and God says, "remember that time that you had a decision to make, and you made that particular choice?"  And I say "why yes, God, I remember that well."  And then He says "If you'd have made the other choice, the next few years would have been much easier for you.  Why didn't you pay attention when I showed you that was the better choice?" No. I don't want to ever have that conversation.

The fact is, God is God.  And He is a loving and wonderful God, and He directs all our paths.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding; 

 6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6

I find that when I am in a season of really seeking His direction, it's much easier to get answers if I really dig in for them.   Meaning, that when I am looking to God for direction, I can't just go about my day as normal.  I need to set aside precious time for Him.  More time than normal.  That's when the principle of fasting can come into play too.  Oh, I've done that.  While seeking direction, I've fasted in the past completely from reading anything that isn't my Bible.  While seeking direction, I've fasted from the internet for a time.  While seeking direction I've fasted from watching any TV or movies for a while.  All of that amounts to eliminating some of the things that may take my focus off of God.  When I spend more time in my Bible, and I spend more time in prayer and praise, I find that when the answers present themselves much more clearly.  And why is that?

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."  John 10:27

The more time we spend in our Bibles, and quietly waiting on Him, the more we recognize His answers for us when they present themselves.  I won't go into the multitude of ways an answer could present itself, because God is God, and there are countless ways that could happen.  But the fact is, the more time you spend with Him, the more you do recognize when He is telling you something.  The more you pay attention, so that someday you don't have to have that conversation with God that begins with "If only..."

Because did you see what comes after the "If only you'd paid attention..."?  Look!  It says there could have been peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea.  Just put that mental picture into your head for a bit.  Peace like a river- soothing and wonderful.  Righteousness like the waves of the sea- tranquility and beauty that comes from within.  I want that.  And I want to pay attention at every step of the way- even when I'm not seeking some kind of direction.

Which brings me to this point.  If I can take the extra time when we're looking for direction and looking for answers- what stops me from this every day?  What stops me from carving out extra time?  I guess I don't know, and it's something to think about isn't it.  Because the last thing I want is for an unexpected decision to suddenly pop up in front of me, and I make a wrong choice right then and there because I think I would know what God would have me do.  No- I want to know what God would have me do.  I want that assurance that I know my Shepherd's voice, and I will know the correct path to take should the situation come upon us.

Dear Lord, I pray this morning for understanding and for a desire to know you more.  I pray this for every person who reads this message- whether that be today, next week, or years from now.  May an understanding and a deep desire to spend more time with you come upon all you read these words.  We love you, Jesus, and we want to know you more.  Thank you for your love that is never-ending and for your guidance that is always just a whisper away. Amen.

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