Sooo...as this month ends and April begins, I've decided to read a proverb a day starting tonight through the last night of April and journal some type of response to each chapter. I just finished reading Joshua over this last month and it was such a great combination of encouragement and challenge to me - it just really showed me some areas of compromise in my own life that need to be dealt with and motivated me to keep digging deeper and not be afraid of living the way I know God wants me to.
"Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether it be the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
In my Bible, the little forward for the book of Proverbs says that "the key word in proverbs is wisdom, "the ability to live life skillfully." After reading the account of Joshua and seeing everything he went through with the Israelites and God, even up until his final days, I would definitely say Joshua had some wisdom. He trusted God and His Word, and He fought the good fight without giving up, even when people around him wanted to give up and the odds were against him. He took a stand for what he knew was right and encouraged those around him to do the same, which made a difference in the lives of the people that God put around him. He lived life skillfully.
I want to do the same! Sure, my life is completely different than Joshua's was in almost every possible way, but the God he served then is the same God I serve today, and the struggle is still the same: trying to live a godly life in an ungodly world. And this is why we NEED wisdom, because on our own we're just imperfect humans that will yield to our fleshly desires every time. I need God's guidance and strength to do what's right, because for the most part, I'm naturally inclined to the wrong thing. Not proud of that fact, but it's just reality and I think the sooner we can just accept that, and embrace God's forgiveness and grace and power...the sooner we'll be able to live the life God has intended for us all along. A life of victory, peace, and completeness. Not an easy life necessarily, because how could we know true victory without first knowing struggle, or peace without first turmoil...or completeness without first knowing what it feels like to have something missing? And I can look back in my life and see those times where it was hard and it hurt and I didn't have peace...and see how God was faithful when I decided to look past that momentary struggle and turn my focus on His truth and His promises. He came through. But the thing is, I don't always turn my focus to Him in the struggle. Sometimes I look to other things, or I just wait so stinkin' long and fight so hard...and it just gets worse...and then eventually I come crying back...and it's like I keep having to relearn the same lesson over and over again. So...that's a little frustrating, but it's also serving the purpose of showing me where I'm truly at in my walk and helping me see where I need to go from here.
James 1:2-8 pretty much gives a good summation of it all: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
Yeah, I definitely don't want to be the unstable, double-minded person anymore...it sucks. So I guess that means I'm working toward being a joyful, trial-bearing, live-life-with-skill person. And I can only be that with God...so that means I need to continue in His Word and not let myself get drawn away by all this other stuff out there. And there's a lot of stuff out there, peeps! No joke. But just because it's out there doesn't mean you have to get all caught up in it...so my question now is....what type of person are you? Are you the one tossed back and forth by the wind, unstable, double-minded? If you are, don't get discouraged, because the good news is that first of all, you're not the only one, and second, there is HOPE. Hope in Christ and His sacrifice for you - He wants to make you new...just like He's making me new every single day. It's a process - a journey if you will. And the beauty of it is that He's already set forth the right path for us to walk on - we don't have to make our own way (and believe me, when we do....it ends up baaaad). AND He promises to be with us...so really, it's our own fault if we find ourselves on the wrong road and all alone...I've tried to blame God for things so many times but then realized it was really just me being stupid and stubborn and allowing myself to be put into those situations...so yeah. I'm going to try to put all that behind me, and seek the wisdom from God that I know I desperately need in order to live a life that will be blessed and fruitful. Will I still make mistakes? Oh yes. Do I still have the tendency to be ridiculously stubborn and rebellious? Unfortunately, yes. But I trust in God's promise that He's not finished with me yet.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."