Probing Proverbs: 4:25-27 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
Even the world class surfers that take on waves 20 to 30 feet high know that the only way to get out beyond the breakers is to navigate their boards into a “channel” they have observed from the beach, some even use a “rip tide” which is a strong current on the surface of the water. The point here is that surfers don’t just grab their boards a jump into the surf. They take time to observe what’s happening and then intentionally choose their path.
The currents and undertows of life can be treacherous, and if we are not intentional about how we live we can find ourselves trapped and treading water! The wisdom found in God's Word is awesome! We have so many things competing for our attention; if we are not proactive we will easily be overwhelmed and wandering with no clear direction.
Here the Word is giving us the answer to that problem - "look", "fix", "mark out", and “stay" - these are all words that describe intention.
Consider how they map out an intentional path:
“Look” We need to take the time to survey our life, the day and the moment. See what is before you, consider the various options and take note of the obstacles.
“Fix” Just like the runner that crouches down into the position to jump at the sound of the gun, as he looks up moments before he hears the “bang” that will ignite his legs to push off…in those milliseconds, his eyes and heart connect in unity of the task laid before them. He has a willful decision that is driving him to be in the race. So also we need to secure our decision in our mind of what we have determined to do. This is what Jesus did as He approached the greatest test of His life:
Luke 9:51 When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem;
“Mark Out” Now that you have surveyed the terrain, and proactively committed to see the race through, you need to specifically plan and set goals. Always remembering that the Lord has the final say. We should never forget that He alone is Sovereign in our lives, yet, some act as though they need not plan at all. James speaks directly to this when he states:
James 4:13–15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
James is not saying we should not plan, we should, but it should always be understood that our plans are subject to His plans. So if God changes ours plans we will adjust and follow His lead. That does not take away our proactive participation.
“Stay” This is where our spirit unites with the Holy Spirit and God’s peace takes over our being because we have agreed that no matter the circumstance, we will remain where God has led us until He leads elsewhere. This brings a godly calmness to our race! This also moves us from trying to “sprint,” which will lead to burn out, to pacing ourselves for the marathon. In God’s eyes our life truly is a “mist”, but in our experience it has some very long moments…and some are very difficult. Remember, the goal is to finish! Even if we fall or get off the path for a moment, when the Holy Spirit has confirmed in us that we want to finish, we will get up from that fall or get back on the track and finish!
If we desire to have a clear direction in our life, one that leads to reason and rhyme, it must be intentional, it will not just happen. The individual that takes the time to consider what they want for the future, how to get there and what it will cost will not be easily sidetracked. The more intention we have in our life, the more sure our steps will be, remembering at the same time to always leave room for "never the less Your will be done". We must always reserve God's right to change our plans.
The so what? Do you have any goals for this year? What are they? If we plan nothing, what should we expect to happen? Have you counted the cost of finishing the race you are in? How much time during a day do you spend communing with God? How sensitive are you to the Holy Spirit, do you know when you have stepped off the path? If you fall, what do you do and how long does it take you?