This week has been a bit strange. It has been a while since I have had a week like this when the focus was so difficult. It may have been a couple of weeks. It has just been difficult to focus. I have not felt like myself. It has been difficult to read and to focus enough on studying. I have not even taken many photos.
Over the weekend I started feeling better but Tuesday the headaches that had been so bad after the stroke came back for a visit, and they can be a real distraction. But this morning I just had to decide as to who was going to drive the bus – God or the distraction, and God was the easy choice.
The decision came following my prayers this morning. I had neglected my reading because of this distraction, and I was not going to let that deter me this morning. I started with February 7 in Timothy Keller’s book, “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life” and worked out of there this morning as I got caught up.
Keller’s book is a study in Proverbs. The devotional for the seventh discussed the “Walking Dead” and quoted Proverbs 9:17-18
Proverbs 9:17-18 (ESV)
17 “Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18 But he does not know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
Keller struck a nerve with me in this devotional. He went from this verse to Proverbs 4:10 and discussed the fact that our decisions regarding God are a matter of life and death.
Proverbs 4:10 as much as tells me that it is a matter of life and death.
Proverbs 4:10 (ESV)
10 Hear, my son, and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.
Once I read this verse, I was stuck in Proverbs chapter 4. I sat for a time and “noodled” on this passage. I also looked at the cross-reference to the passage. One was Proverbs 3:2. I read it, and I could not stop at just verse 2 but read through verse 4.
Proverbs 3:2-4 (ESV)
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
As I considered all this I just was humbled and overwhelmed with thanksgiving.
I thought about the life and death part of 4:10 and I meditated on 3:3 above talking about love and faithfulness and writing them on your heart and this calm settled in. Peace and contentment that comes only from a growing relationship with God and His Word. I like what Paul says in Romans 10.
Romans 10:8-12 (ESV)
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
This “Word” that Paul proclaims in Romans 10 is the same that God teaches us in Proverbs. It is the same Word that John speaks of in John 1:1-5
John 1:1-5 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I was reminded that my relationship with Jesus is life. The stronger the relationship with Jesus the richer my life.
Burden or Blessing
It is impossible to know what others face every day when they wake. To list all the possible challenges would take more time and space than I have and would still not be complete. I know this week I was miserable for several days, and as I reflect this morning, it is like sitting on the edge of a razor. We can choose to be overcome or to overcome. The first is the easiest. We can do it all on our own. The second seems more difficult.
We think to overcome we need some personal strength, will or conviction, but the truth is we need less. We need only to surrender to Jesus our pain and our concerns. There are none too heavy for him.
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
That passage from Matthew fills me with the peace that can only come from God. It is contentment that He showed me in His Word when I was low. I did not want to have the health problems I have, but in these moments, God drew me to His Word. In these dark places that I have found myself in since He draws me closer. And with each challenge, He gives me strength answering my prayers through His Word.
I hate all the physical issues that cause challenging days for me, especially when they get the best of me and I give into them. But in the same breath, I know in those moments God is working on my faith and character, despite my stubbornness. It is a shame that I cannot see that until I am on the back side of whatever caused me to falter.
In all that I am thankful for the good work that God is doing in me and His patience and grace that He shows me.
I am thankful for the teachings in his Word like Proverbs 4. He reminds me to focus and be attentive.
Proverbs 4:20-21 (ESV)
20 My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
The Holy Spirit reminds us that the Word is life.
Proverbs 4:13 (ESV)
13 Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
guard her, for she is your life.
With the prayerful study of the Word, he guides us through it. What a blessing it is to have this message to draw from that we grow closer in a personal relationship with God. His love and grace exceed my own ability to understand, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, He reveals what I need for each day if I will simply ask and obey.
Father, thank you for this and every day. Thank you for your patience and grace. Holy Spirit I am thankful for your guidance through every step I take. Though the body may falter, my spirit grows stronger in you every day, and I thank you in the name of your blessed Son, Jesus Christ, Amen!