Many of us are familiar with this often quoted passage. When we don't know what to do, or when things get hard, we can run back to this verse for comfort. But what does it mean? It's easy to go straight to the promise of this verse--he will direct your paths--while missing the exhortation leading up to it.
We all have that sin. The one we thought was long conquered, long forgotten, and long paid for by Christ's precious blood. Then one day it emerges, reminding us that we are not yet perfected, and riddling us with guilt. It's the sin we don't speak of. It's the sin that we are certain would cause friends to shun us, strangers to mock us, and God to turn his back on us. Everyone's is different, but the effects on us are the same. And when it rears its ugly head we are undone.
I received a copy of this book at the bloggers gathering at TGCW14 over a month ago. The title, Extravagant Grace: God's Glory Displayed in Our Weakness, by Barbara Duguid (P&R), caught my eye immediately. I feel weak often. I am overwhelmed by my sin on a regular basis. This book, I thought, must be written for me.
I've talked about why I need this exercise in thinking through how I speak. I've also talked about who we are addressing when we use our words for good or for evil. But I've also been convicted lately about the need to restrain my speech. I'm a talker. I like to use my words. When I'm happy, that's a good thing. When I'm angry, not so much. In the heat of an argument or when my feelings are hurt, words fly like fiery daggers. I even would go so far as to say that I feel as if it's my duty to throw words in a moment of rage. If I don't, who will?
It's been almost two weeks since I boarded a plane by myself to spend the weekend in Orlando listening to the Bible taught by godly men and women. In a lot of ways the daily realities of my life now make the time spent there seem like a distant memory. But the impact of the weekend has not left me, and I pray it doesn't for a long time.
I have been really helped by reflecting on the image of God lately. Every human being, male or female, healthy or unhealthy, infant or elderly, bears God's image (Gen. 1:26-27). This has profound implications for how we live. It means that our life has value. It means our gifts and abilities mean something.
I'm a talker. My parents say I haven't stopped talking since I uttered my first words. I'm pretty sure all of my former school teachers and husband would agree. I've been known to get in trouble with my love of talking. From being told to go back to my cubicle at work for talking about "things that weren't work related" to speaking my mind in the heat of an argument, my words can hurt me sometimes.
I'm not a humble person. In fact, pride is a sin that I daily have to crucify. I hate my pride and its many manifestations in my life. And I want desperately to be humble, to possess humility. Because pride is an affront to the truth of the gospel, God delights in answering prayers that ask for more humility. It is in our humbling that we see our desperate need for Christ.
Nobody likes pain. I know I don't. We hate pain so much that we do whatever we can to avoid it. We have a headache, we take ibuprofen. We get a leg cramp while running (true confession!), so we stop running. We have surgery, we go under anesthesia. As a society, we have come a long way by means of pain management.