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One of the scriptures God directs me to often is Proverbs 11:23: “The desire of the righteous ends only in good; the expectation of the wicked in wrath.” I’ve always focused most heavily on the front end of that scripture, the encouraging reminder that if I’m walking day-to-day with Jesus, He will guide my good desires to a good outcome. But this week He brought into full view the second half of that passage. Some versions of the Bible use the word “expectation of the wicked,” some use “hope” or “wants.” Still, the message is the same. When my choices don’t align with God, bad things happen.
I was reminded of that truth very personally this week in a way that really stung. In the heat of the moment, I ran ahead of God. I made a choice without clarity from Him on whether or not that was really the way to go. And something that started out strong fizzled into something hurtful and ugly. Ever been there? The reactionary business decision you made, the boundary you decided to dishonor, the words that came tumbling out of your mouth before you could call them back. Ouch. It can be a long, long list. Or worse, we can run ahead of God toward what are even good, godly things, but we’ve assumed God has rubber stamped His approval instead of slowing down enough to seek His direction. Then we wonder why we’ve failed. It was for God, after all. Double ouch.
How good God is that we are never left with only wrath; always He offers redemption. He’s the first to hold me when I cry, the first to brush the dirt off my face and remind me He still loves me no matter how many times I fall. He is just so incredibly good! I don’t want to experience brokenness and failure. I want the good God has shown me to come to full fruition in my life. This week was a timely reminder for me of how to do so.
First of all, I need to always listen to God and His word. In my case, I asked of God what He would have me do, but I didn’t hear a solid answer. Just silence. In my eagerness, I assumed that no news was good news and jumped into questionable waters. Today, I shake my head and say, “Ah, yes. Silence means wait.” Silence means there is no answer yet, and I’m meant to grow through that waiting process. Silence can also come because I’m blocking God’s voice from penetrating through the thick, murky fog of my emotions. I hear Jesus whisper, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). But I like action, so being still is harder for me. The big bruise I received was a good reminder for me of the value of being still.
Then once I’ve heard, I need to obey. Yes, it’s scary sometimes. I can be hard; it can be counterintuitive. But it is simple. If God lays something on my heart, I need to actively take that step of faith forward. He will help me wrestle through the fear and strengthen me for what He’s called me to as He guides me forward. In those moments, I have to remember God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. I simply need to move.
But what I am most reminded of in this moment, which feels especially poignant during holy week, is that even in the midst of my failure, my heavenly Father is still the God of redemption. When sin gets the best of me, Jesus is right there reminding me He has taken my punishment away. The consequences may remain, but the pain and hurt are redeemed, repurposed and transformed into powerful life lessons that help me and those around me grow. I think of scriptures like Hebrews 10:10: “And by that will [God’s will], we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” That Jesus would willingly choose to take on my punishment that I’ve deserved and replace it with peace and beauty within my heart and spirit is amazing to me. How incredible He is! How marvelous! And knowing my weakness, He still wants a relationship with me—and you. How lucky we are!
As you get yourself ready for Easter, remember. Remember what God has taken away, that the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him (Isaiah 53:5), a sacrifice He made for you because you are that valuable to Him! The trouble we can bring upon ourselves never has to be the end of our story, for it is by Jesus’ wounds we are healed. And the end of His path leads to goodness and glory.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT Brokenness over who we aren’t without a strong view of the cross can be demoralizing. Remember that the point isn’t to beat ourselves up emotionally or mentally, but instead to take to heart the lessons the Lord is trying to teach us because He has already forgiven us as believers. Then we must remember to also forgive ourselves (and ask others for forgiveness if appropriate). Since God has graciously and freely chosen to forgive us, who are we to not do the same? I also think struggle teaches us to be more compassionate, gracious and forgiving toward others. Gratitude, mercy and freedom are all found in abundance at the foot of Calvary’s cross. So this week, make a decision to focus on Jesus more heavily in the day-to-day comings and goings of your life. As He promised in Proverbs 3:5-6, He will make your path straight.
PRAYER Lord, thank you for your mercy and grace. I am humbled that You are always willing to take me where I’m at, and grateful that You love me too much to leave me there. As I focus this week on the miraculous gift of freedom and salvation found at the Cross of Jesus, may I harness the power of that gift to walk more intimately with You. I don’t want to be out of step with You, Papa. Help me to hold onto Your hand. Through Jesus’ name, Amen.