“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130 ESV
…..and simple-minded is how we act when we turn to our flesh for the answers that come to us in such devastatingly painful ways sometimes when that is where we look for them.
Psalm 119:130 contains a lot more wisdom than is immediately obvious, or can be gleaned from a quick reading as part of the whole Psalm, but if we look closely at what is actually being communicated, we discover several different things: We are given clear instructions on how to begin our day; we are shown how to illuminate the path on which we are walking; we reveal the source of our wisdom; and we learn where to point others for the answers they seek.
All of that is in the first seven words: “The unfolding of your words gives light….”
“The unfolding of [God’s] words..” requires that we stop what we are doing and read the Bible. The simple act of taking time to put God first should help shed some light on what lies on the path ahead. As I wrote in the previous post, we tend to become so ‘busy’ – even busy doing ‘God’s work’ – that our lives become a blur. We get so busy that something needs to give and what is usually first to go is the time we spend with our Father.
But He should understand, right? After all, He gave us the work that so urgently needs to be done. He presented us with the opportunity that has us so wrapped up we barely have time to sleep and eat.
No. He does not understand, and it is not alright.
What our number one priority should be was made very clear by Jesus in His teaching: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:1-33 ESV
One dictionary defines ‘first’ as: “The one coming, occurring, or ranking before or above all others.”
If we are seeking the Kingdom of God first, then we begin our day by going to the Lord in prayer, and by looking to His Word to see what will unfold before us and how it will illuminate our path. More important than that first cup of coffee is first thanking the Lord for the gift of the day that stretches before us.
Many of us have difficulty getting up an hour earlier to spend quality time with the One who gives us our time in the first place, but we have no problem staying up an hour later to watch TV or surf the internet.
Sometimes we don’t bother to pray because, well, He doesn’t always answer our prayers, does He? Wrong again. He answers each and every prayer. Seriously, He really does. Unfortunately it is not always on the timetable or in the manner we would like. More unfortunate is the simple fact that we very often miss the answer completely because we fail to stop, look, and listen as we race forward on what we think is the correct path.
Standing still can move us forward, if we are standing still to allow God’s words to unfold and reveal His wisdom us. Standing still can move us forward when we pray and then resolve to keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open for the answer. Standing still can move us forward with confidence when we are standing still to seek first the Kingdom of God.
In my book “TODAY IS….A Gift From God” I wrote some thoughts on that very subject. Ironic, given that in the previous post I pretty much admitted to ignoring those words. I will reprint them here for all of us, and I will pray that they help us all to stand still for a moment so that when we do begin to move forward, we do so with the knowledge that we understand who the dictionary was referring to with the definition: “The one coming, occurring, or ranking before or above all others.”
From “TODAY Is….A Gift From God”:
……a great day to stop, look, and listen.
“When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over.” John 2:9 NLT
Coming upon railroad crossings that do not have signals, it is always a good idea to stop, look, and listen. Failure to do so could cause us to fail to see or hear a train coming, and that would have disastrous consequences.
Being alert to what is going on around us and paying close attention to the things that are influencing our decisions and driving our actions is always a good idea. Many of us ask the Lord for help in our lives through prayer, but then fail to do the important part: we fail to stop, look, and listen for the answer. Failure to do this could result in negative consequences in our lives. They may not be as disastrous as not seeing that train, but if we miss God’s instruction, then we are left only with our own ability to direct our lives.
Why is it important to stop, look, and listen? Because God sometimes provides us with the answers we are looking for in ways that might not be immediately apparent. It is not as if He makes an announcement or taps us on the shoulder each time He fulfills a request. Just as evidenced at the wedding, many times the work of the Lord is done quietly and without fanfare.
If we examine all of the things that are taking place around us, we can tell which things are results of God’s influence. It requires patience, and concentrated effort, but many of us would probably be surprised how many times we have missed the message because we did not heed the warning and “stop, look, and listen.”