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His Straight, Not Mine

Whenever I have a huge decision to make, I stress. My default mode is "what if I'm wrong??" This has been true for the last 10+ years of my life. College, mission trips during college, where to teach after college, quitting teaching, moving to Baltimore, leaving Baltimore, beginning seminary. All decisions fraught with questions, doubts, fears. And I'm there again. Graduated from seminary, looking for the next step. Wondering. Doubting. Questioning. Hoping. Dreaming. Fearing. 

Every big decision is the same. You'd think I'd have learned by now just to decide or jump or trust or whatever. But no. The reason for this struggle is that I so badly long to do what I am meant to do. I long to follow God where He is leading, to fulfill the purpose He has planned for me from the beginning. But I'm only human. And so how on earth do I know what God has planned for me? And how on earth can I possibly do that without screwing it up completely? 

I look at verses like Acts 17:26, where Paul says that God "determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek" Him. And Ephesians 2:10: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." These verses, among others, always seem to suggest to me that God has a specific plan for our lives. Yes, I know generally that God desires all of us to live as His children and share Him with the world, but it has always seemed to me to be more than that. That God has had a purpose, a plan for which He uniquely created me. These verses, paired with a long-standing feeling deep inside, have always seemed to tell me that there is a specific calling on my life, a specific "something" God has for me.  

This line of thought, then, runs through my brain in circles sounding a bit like this: "Ok, if A is God's plan for me and I do something wrong and miss it, then I've screwed up A, and haven't fulfilled God's purpose for me." Or "If I think God's purpose for my life is A, but right now the opportunity in front of me is B, how can that match up with A?" 
And on and on. Around and around. Lap after lap. 
Hesitation upon hesitation. Question upon question. 

Here's where this is leading. Randomly, the other day I opened my Bible to where my pen was stashed, and saw that I had opened it to Proverbs 3, which is home to the well-known 5-6: "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 your paths straight." Y'all I've read this verse a lot through the years, but that day, verse 6 stood out to me in a way it never has before. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. I wasn't sure why, so of course I went for the Hebrew and lexicons and such, courtesy of Blue Letter Bible (and some from my memory), and looked up four words: ways, acknowledge, paths, and straight. 

Ways: road, journey, way, direction, manner/habit, of course of life. 
This is important because I always read this as manners and habits, but the word can also mean ways as in places -- the course your life takes. As I've moved and changed jobs and lived in lots of places, those are the ways of my life. 
Acknowledge: to know, to perceive, to know by experience, to cause to know, to make known.
Paths: path, road, passing of life, way of living. The Gesenius lexicon says this is a "poetical word." 
Straight: generally means to go straight, be pleasing or agreeable, be straightforward or upright. But here, the form this word takes is the intense form (piel) of the verb. In that form, straight means "to make right; to lead, direct, or lead straight along; to esteem right or approve." This is way more than just straight roads, which are generally easier than crooked ones -- it's much deeper. 

Basically, Proverbs 3:6 is saying that I need to know God in everything- to see Him in everything, to seek to make Him known, to seek to know Him -- in all my ways -- my actions, my manners, the ways I travel.  If I do that, then He (with passion and great purpose) makes the roads straight. He will lead me in the way He esteems to be right. 

His straight, not mine. 

To me, it may seem that the way is full of twists and turns. I may see nothing but crooked, may see nothing that looks straight. I may not understand why I need to go one direction when I feel like God's overall purpose for me lies in a complete other direction. But if I'm seeking to know God in all I do, then He's laying out the path. That means that what looks crooked and twisty to me is nothing but straight to Him. 

His straight, not mine. 

This makes complete sense in light of verses like Isaiah 55:8-9, where God says that His ways are not ours. This "ways" is the same as in Proverbs. God's course of life for me may not be what I thought, but He makes my course of life straight as He sees straight not as I see it. 

His straight, not mine. 

As I live the questions looking for the next illuminated step, I'm praying I'll have the faith to follow Him, to see Him in everything, to remember that He sees it all and I just see a little piece, to live His straight. 

His straight, not mine. 

*Forgive my Hebrew; it's not the best. I may not have gotten everything right, but I still think the general idea of the verse is captured. Either way, it's exactly what I needed. 
*Also, please forgive the length of this post. Thanks for making it to the end, friend!
*The continuation of my thoughts on this verse can be found here, if you're interested :)


Judi Jackson said…
As I read your breakdown and study on each word, I was reminded of the similarity with Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." The key is in what we do first: "In all your ways, acknowledge Him" ... "Delight yourself in the Lord" ... and while I'm at it, Matthew 6:33 "Seek first the kingdom of God" ...

As you are doing the "one thing" Jesus refers to in Luke 10:42 (acknowledging, delighting in, seeking, worshiping Him), then whatever else fills your time should follow suit. This looks different in different people but a vocation does not require a ministry title to be all about you ministering in the name of the One in whom are acknowledging, delighting in, seeking, and worshiping.

Don't get hung up looking for the perfect situation and miss the messy situation He wants to use to grow you closer to Himself. In the meantime, come back to NOLA and get your hands dirty with us! We're looking forward to seeing you in just a few days!
brooke said…
Judi! Thank you for your thoughts and wisdom! I'm definitely still processing this and your words are encouraging. I'm trying not to miss the mess and the inbetween (though that's easier said than done)! I'm excited to come back for a bit and work with y'all this week :)

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