Monday, October 28, 2019
It was not level and smooth. I thought I knew the shortcut to my tree stand, even though I had only taken it once before from the opposite direction as I left the woods two days earlier. But in the dark it was different. I ended up in the middle of a tangled mess of downed trees and branches, being far noisier than I ever wanted to be. Every step cracked a branch. What should have been a silent approach that took 3 minutes ended up being a loud and potentially deer-frightening approach that took me 15 minutes. It was not a good way to start the day.
What went wrong? Well, I was arrogant to think that in this new location my skills and senses were so finely honed that I could travel 100 yards through the woods in the dark without getting off course. I needed to be humbled, and I was. No more shortcuts. In the future I will follow the path marked out for me.
Isaiah 26:7 The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.
As I read that verse, I thought of that early morning hunting adventure. I wondered why so many of the paths of life weren’t all that level and smooth. Sure, I’m not completely righteous – who is? But there doesn’t seem to be a consistent connection between the times in my life when I’m being faithful and the smoothness of life. In fact, some of the toughest times have occurred when I am the closest to God. Has God made a promise that isn’t true?
As I contemplated all of this, I remembered to read the rest of the context of Isaiah 26. Here it is in verses five through nine. The footnote numbers are not verse numbers, but reference the application points below.
1 He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust. 2 Feet trample it down—the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor. The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, LORD, 3 walking in the way of your laws, 4 we wait for you; 5 your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. 6 My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. 7 When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.
Here’s what I learned, with each point referenced to a verse above:
- Pride causes bumps and potholes in the road of life.
- God smoothes out the road of our life using the footsteps of other people, especially those people we have considered to be somehow sub-standard and beneath us. We are humbled when suddenly we are beneath them.
- The path God has chosen for my life is already level and smooth, but I may be on the wrong path. I may be walking according to my laws or the laws of the world and not God’s law.
- I may be on God’s path, but I’ve gotten ahead of Him and He hasn’t prepared that part of the road yet.
- The road isn’t level and smooth because I’m travelling it for my own benefit and not for the glory of God.
- Am I so in love with God that I long for Him more than I long for anything else? Is my relationship with Jesus the single most important thing in my life?
- Every bump and pothole in the road is placed there by God so that I become more righteous.
I will be walking a different path to my tree stand next time I go. But more importantly, I will daily focus on walking God’s path of righteousness. I will not complain about the bumps and potholes, but will allow my Lord to use them to humble me and make me more like Him.