The Straight Path

“Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent.” – H. P. Lovecraft
(BrainyQuote)

The word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is gegenschein, an astronomy term that refers to “a faint, elliptical patch of light in the night sky that appears opposite the sun, being a reflection of sunlight by meteoric material in space.”
gegenschein

Today is Russian Language Day. Because that’s the one I picked out of the five choices that I saw.

Honestly, I am seriously lacking in motivation, this morning. It’s not a happy day, of course, as the funeral for my mother-in-law is this afternoon. We don’t have a lot to do this morning, in preparation, but I’m supposed to open in prayer and say a few words of welcome. I’ve never done this before, and it certainly wasn’t on my “bucket list.” I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, opening a funeral service would not be on it.

The visitation went pretty well, yesterday evening. There was a good number of people who showed up, many of them being friends and relatives of C’s step-dad’s son and wife. Their pastor was there and he said a nice prayer, along with reading Psalm 139 to the group. The most difficult moment was right after C’s niece arrived. She was probably more emotional than anyone else there, even more than the step-dad. That was pretty tough to witness.

After the viewing, C, R, S, and I all came back home (R’s husband stayed at the house), where we sat for a bit, then had some dinner while watching John Mulaney’s newest comedy special on Netflix. R will be coming back over, this afternoon, in time to get to the funeral home with us at around 1:00 PM. The funeral is at 1:30, then at 5:30, we will be having dinner at D’s apartment complex, where C reserved the community room. Some good friends from our church are providing food.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.
“At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah.
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.'”
For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.
But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

Psalm 75

This cup of foaming wine, described in verse 8, is meant for all of the wicked of the earth, which was everyone on the planet. But then, Jesus took that cup and drank it. “When the deserved wrath of God is drunk by the undeserving Son of God, the cup of wrath becomes a cup of salvation.”

“I will seek justice, O God, not in the acts of others and not in my own attempts at goodness, but in the deep exchanges of forgiveness and redemption that take place in Jesus Christ. Free me from self-promotion and self-justification to sing the praise of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

This is a popular passage, well known among Christians. It is the opening Scripture for today’s Guideposts reading, but that’s all I’m taking from it. I don’t usually do this, but today, I’m simply writing my own comments about a couple of verses. It won’t be earth-shattering; it won’t shake anyone’s faith or inspire them to move mountains.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” How many of us have been able to accomplish this? The heart is one of the “parts” of a person. Jesus speaks of several when he gives us the greatest command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” The heart is only one of those parts. The path I am on is one that will take me into what we call spiritual formation, or the spiritual disciplines. The purpose of these disciplines is to, as Dallas Willard says, fix the parts of my life. One of those parts is the heart.

How do I get to a place where I can trust the Lord with all my heart? By practice; by training. That is the purpose of the disciplines. They are training. Training ourselves into good habits, replacing some bad ones. When I trust the Lord with all my heart, that next phrase will pretty much be automatic. If I am trusting him, I will naturally not lean on my own understanding. This is a good thing, because, most of the time, my own understanding is pretty inaccurate. Sometimes it is quite ignorant, in which case it is not “understanding” at all. In those cases, it is more “opinion.” My understanding is limited; it is finite, because I am limited and finite. I don’t know everything (understatement of the century). God does know everything. He knows everything about everything, and, in doing so, also knows everything about me.

In that psalm that the pastor read, last night, Psalm 139, these words are contained: O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

God knows me. There have been times when I wonder, if God knows the words I’m going to say before they are even on my tongue, why didn’t he stop me?

God knows me and he knows my path. He has charted out the path of my life. And if I am leaning on my own understanding, my path will not be straight. In fact, it might look something like this:
Crooked path

But if I am trusting in him completely, with all of my heart, acknowledging him in all my ways, my path will look more like this:

??????????????????????

The path of my life has not been very straight, at least not from my perspective. Of course, I don’t know the finishing point. I can only see the path, looking backward. We aren’t supposed to spend a lot of time looking back, according to Jesus. So I won’t do that. I will endeavor to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding. The journey I am on will equip me to do that better, I pray. I pray that, as I get older, my path will get straighter. God has an ending point for my life. He will get me there, because he is sovereign, and his will will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Father, help me to lean not on my own understanding and to trust you with all my heart. I have faith that you will make my path straight. I pray that, through the disciplines, you will train me to walk in your path, to always be doing your work, and to take on the “easy yoke” of Christ. Lead me, O my Father. Lead me.

Come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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