“You will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path.” Proverbs 2:9
I used to live in Arizona. Hiking up winding, dusty trails surrounded by prickly cactus and tumbleweeds was a favorite pastime. Sometimes we’d break away from the trail and rock climb up craggy stone walls, gingerly searching for gripping spots to avoid tarantulas, cactus or snakes. But always, we would run wildly down the main trail on our descent. Like a kid in a candy shop with a grin that spread ear-to-ear, I would juke and jump as fast as I safely could, a sense of freedom and joy surging through my veins.
Those were the good paths, the fun experiences–the times I remember fondly. But I also remember the paths that were unforgiving, and the time my gripping spots vanished in the middle of a sheer rock climb. I shouted for my climbing companion, but he didn’t hear me. Stranded, I vividly remember the agonizing decision to choose to let go, knowing my drop was about the height of a two story home. Every possible outcome of letting go raced through my mind as I mentally picked through each potential outcome and how I would respond should it occur. And I still remember how it felt to finally have to let go, a jumbling emotional brew of determination and fear.
I suppose my life has been a lot like those climbs. There have been some amazing trails, and some tricky, terrifying spots I’ve found myself in. Knowing how to find my gripping spots in life has become my one of my biggest priorities, an important indicator of how successfully I will move forward.
In Proverbs 2:2-9 it says, “If you want better insight and discernment, and are searching for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure, then wisdom will be given you and knowledge of God himself; you will soon learn the importance of reverence for the Lord and of trusting him. For the Lord grants wisdom! His every word is a treasure of knowledge and understanding. He grants good sense to the godly–his saints. He is their shield, protecting them and guarding their pathway. He shows how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time” (TLB version).
Intentionally leaning into Jesus, together planning out my route and how to best attack my path, has given me a firmer gripping spot, the most secure lifeline. When I start my planning by first stopping and praying, when I search for God’s wisdom in my situation and seek understanding, He guards my course and protects me. I ascend further, grow more quickly, and experience rich joy more frequently when I follow His direction versus pursuing my own way and hoping He’s down for the ride.
Even when my grips run out, it is by intentionally planning with God and seeking input from other Christ followers I am able to screw up the courage and let go; I’ve learned He will always catch me and guide me regardless of the outcome.
When was the last time you reached out to Jesus and harnessed His wisdom for your plan making? Are you willing to seek it out like hidden treasure, to cry out for it, to apply your heart to understanding what He would have you do? Remember: God provides the best paths. His trail may not be as quick or as easy, but it will make all the difference in how joyful and successful you are as you move forward.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT: Learning to go with God’s direction versus my own isn’t always easy. I like control, so trusting in Him when I don’t always understand His path or direction is tough. Yet looking back at the times I’ve stranded myself spiritually, physically or emotionally remind me to trust in the One who knows how to make my path straight. This week, read Proverbs 3:5-6 and look for practical ways you can learn to trust His direction. Maybe it’s reading the Bible more, or memorizing some scriptures on why God is trustworthy. Maybe it’s starting big decisions with prayer and study. Whatever you decide, never forget that every good path ultimately comes from the Lord.
PRAYER: Father, I know I don’t always include you the way I should in how I run my day, my week, my year or my life. But you are still faithful to me even when I’m faithless, Papa. Thank you. Help me to grow in my wisdom, trust and understanding of you. I’m tired of getting stranded out on the rocks somewhere, and I know your path is the best one for me. Help me overcome my fear and my need to always have to know, to always be in control. I know control is just an illusion the enemy uses against me anyway. Help me cling to You, my true gripping place and my firm foundation, so I can run down the path of my life with vibrancy and joy, honoring You as I run. Thank You for the ways You are striving to help me grow to become more like you. May my choices reflect your direction today. Amen.