This last 24 hours has been the Spring 2004 LESTER Retreat. (LESTER is the Navigator’s student leadership team.) I had a good time on the retreat. My emotions went up and down and up and… through the time, but overall I’d say it was a positive experience. I’ve decided that a lot of the things that’ve been frustrating me lately (lack of discipline, motivation, enthusiasm, etc.) are all rooted in a false perception of God and subsequently myself. Verses like this:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
This verse is true. But I haven’t been believing this. Sometimes the distance between the head and the heart seems wider than the red sea. It’s not impossible to overcome the distance and difficulties though. I was reading in Proverbs 2 during some time with God I had today on the retreat. The following is verses 1 to 5, but read the rest of the chapter if you want to get the most out of my following thoughts.
My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
What I saw in this is that if I’m listening to God and inclining my _heart_ to understanding, then I will understand the fear of the LORD and find some real knowledge. The results of such a belief are evident further down in the passage. Verse 10 – “…wisdom will come into your heart…”.
• understanding (fear of the LORD, righteousness and justice)
• delivery from evil, from “men of perverted speech”
• delivery from the “forbidden woman”
Okay, the forbidden woman is an interesting thing to think about. This woman, this seductress, what if she’s not a real woman?
In thinking about this today, I thought she might be something other than that as well. An image in a magazine, a picture on the internet, some ridiculous fantasy. Verse 19 says, “none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.” Not in a final sense, but if you completely sell out to such a lifestyle and never look back, it’s going to take you down a road which doesn’t lead to life. Verse 16 is where the hope is: “So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.” If what?
Like I was mentioning earlier in the post and is so blatant in this Proverb, God is saying, “receive my words and treasure up my commandments”. Not just in the head, but in the heart. Seek it, search for it, listen to it, and God will respond.
One final thought. Verse 20 says, “So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.” Looking at this in the context of the rest of the passage, God isn’t just saying, “Do things and live life the way I want you to ’cause I said so.” God saying so is a good reason, but it’s not some mundane action performed out of legalism. Through seeking and understanding the words of God, he’ll provide the heart it takes to live life for him.