I run my dogs, or “the boys” (as my family calls them), on a trail on our property six days a week, if not seven (that’s only when Luke, my youngest Chocolate lab, will not quit bothering me to take him!) It is about a half-mile track, so I run multiple laps each day. Well, during the Blizzard of 2010, we lost a couple of trees on our property and several of them fell across the path/trail. That was several months ago now, and the trees are still there. My dogs and I have adapted by going around the trees and making a new path.
The other day, I noticed that after these months of going around these obstructions eight to ten times daily, I have essentially “carved out” a new path. If someone who had never walked the original trail, walked it today, they would follow the “new” path. This made a verse of Scripture come alive for me and the LORD used it to give a new revelation about His Word.
Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. (ESV)
Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established. (NASB)
Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. (HCSB)
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. (NIV)
This is from Hebrew wisdom literature, Proverbs 4:26. I had previously spent a lot of time on this single verse, doing word studies, cross referencing, and commentary study, so my mind was ready for the lesson God had prepared for me out in the woods. (That is my unashamed plug for bible study–God’s Word always accomplishes its purpose and does what God sent it out to do (Isaiah 55:11)!)
The word for ponder, watch, carefully consider in the verse means “to weigh out, make level, balance.” The NIV has the most literal rendering of the verb. I believe that the author, generally accepted as King Solomon, is insisting on careful, consistent introspection of our daily decisions. I believe that he is telling us to “weigh out and balance” those decisions with the Word of God and “make them even” with the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. If our thoughts and actions are out of sync with either of those things, then we are in serious danger.
The word for path in the verse means “entrenchment, track, course.” This is the word that the Lord brought to mind as I was running: the “entrenchment” of my feet. The steps my feet are taking day after day make a difference. In just a few short months, they have created a “new” path for my run. The hundreds of steps I have taken have cleared away sticks, leaves, and rocks. They have even made a slight trench in the ground already. I heard the Lord teach my heart, “EVERY step you take matters. EVERY decision you make matters. EACH is comprising the path you will take. EACH is charting a course. EACH is forming the entrenchment of your life. No matter what your path has been, beginning a new one only takes a step in a different direction. It changes everything…”
The word for ways means “journey, way, manner, direction, habit.” This is what we are doing on the paths of our lives. It is what comes of those consistent daily decisions, the patterns that we choose to develop.
The word for sure, established, firm in the verse, also has another meaning: “be stable.” I don’t know about you but for me, stability is a huge deal! I want to have stability in my relationship with Jesus, my finances, my relationships with people, my emotions, my health, my car–come on, let’s get practical here! I want that 2002 Honda Accord to start when I turn that key! AMEN? I want stability, and (dare I say it) security–while the only thing in which this world offers stability is INSTABILITY! The housing market crashes. The car companies file bankruptcy. A parent or child suddenly passes away. Friends get married (and I don’t). You fail the test. You get a dreaded phone call from a doctor. You miscarry a baby. You don’t get the job. Your spouse meets someone else. The list goes on and on. Instability.
Now, this is not a lesson in the sovereignty of God, nor even simply trusting the Lord (because both of those would be good responses to my previous paragraph.) My point is that if there is a way that Scripture is offering SOME level of stability, I want to take advantage. If we are diligent to carefully consider our daily decisions, and weigh them against Scripture and the Holy Spirit, then the path we walk and the habits, direction, and journey of our lives will be stable, firm, and established in God’s perfect will. This life-long journey to our eternal destiny will be a well-beaten, heavily trodden path, on which others can gracefully follow behind.
Where are your daily footsteps taking you? They matter. I promise.