The principal of our PSP, and a personal friend of our family, recently shared this devotion with our group. With his permission, I want to share it with all of you. I pray you are blessed.
I was recently in a discussion with a young man who had, as we all have at one point or another, lost his sense of direction, and found himself needing a spiritual course correction. As our conversation progressed, he asked how he had gotten off course. I have at times asked the same question.
In truth, I have never met a person who woke up one morning and determined that they would back-slide that day, and I have yet to ask myself how I could deliberately sabotage my walk with Christ; but if we are not careful, we can easily find ourselves compromising in one area or another, which leads to a slippery slope in our daily walk. I believe that just like sheep happily munch on the grass with no attention to where they are going and can find themselves far from the flock, if we are not frequently checking ourselves, our hearts, and our sources of input, we can find ourselves having moved in a direction we didn’t see coming beforehand.
Psalm 1 states: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;”
I believe that a progression is shown in this verse. It begins with ungodly counsel, and ends with far worse. It also shows how our walks with God can be slowly over time eroded and changed. It begins with who and what we listen to, the counsel of the ungodly. This is done as we walk along. What do we listen to, who do we take advice from, and what is our focus in life?
I am very glad that we chose to home school our children. There is a trend amongst traditional public school kids which is also somewhat mirrored in private school kids; namely they go to their peers for advice and counsel. This is disturbing to me, and should be to most parents. If my 13 yr. old is struggling with an issue, I really don’t want him soliciting counsel from someone else as clueless as he. Most kids in public school that I talk with speak in monosyllables when talking with an adult. Perhaps this is due to spending hours at a time herded with a bunch of same-aged classmates, but if asking for help, the shepherd would be a better choice than another sheep. Of course there are always exceptions, but home schooled kids tend to be more willing to talk with adults than their public-schooled counterparts.
From whom do we solicit advice? Scripture admonishes us throughout to seek wisdom. That is usually found in those who are at least beyond the current stage of life we find ourselves in. Solomon’s son Rehoboam chose to listen to those his own age, ignored the advice of those older and more experienced than he, and the nation of Israel was split as a result; hardly what he planned all along, I am sure.
The next step in the backward progression is to stand in the path of sinners. We listen to ungodly counsel as we walk, then suddenly we stop walking and stand still. While we are not admonished in Scripture to avoid catching our breath, or to seek shade for a few moments to cool off, our relationship with God is described as a walk, a journey that requires forward motion. The Israelites spent 40 years meandering around in the desert when they could have taken about 12 days. How much heartache could we avoid if we maintain our focus and don’t go off on side trips? The longer we stay in one place, the easier it is to forget which direction we were going in before we stopped.
The next stop in our downward spiral is to sit. Whenever we stop moving forward and stand still, it becomes easier to sit down and stop moving altogether. Just as a sheep taking a nap is separated from the flock that keeps moving, so we too can find ourselves in a place where we don’t want to be simply because we were never supposed to camp there in the first place.
We can hardly blame Jesus if we walk with Him, sit down when we aren’t supposed to, take a short cat-nap, and then wonder where He is and how we lost sight of Him. We are encouraged to stick close to Him for that very reason.
The next verse gives us the alternate and more desirable option. If the downward spiral begins with ungodly counsel, the living, vibrant, productive walk begins with the counsel of the Holy One. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
If I want to be fruitful, then taking in constant nourishment is the only way to be healthy. Eating once a week is a poor way to maintain health, but eating good food regularly is going to help us maintain a healthy body. The word used is delight: “His delight is in the law of the Lord” (emphasis mine). When we truly pay attention regularly to what God would counsel us to do, it becomes a delight to walk with Him. His words become refreshing, satisfying, and pleasant to hear and heed. It follows up with a description of a tree planted in the best place, near and constantly nurtured with food and water for growth.
If I wait for Him to stop, letting Him choose the choicest most refreshing rest stops available, I become a growing, green, fruit-bearing tree in His garden, rather than a spent, dried-out, withered tree that couldn’t produce fruit. I would rather be used as a source of fruit, shade, and rest for others as I walk with Him. That being the case, I need to be constantly filled and fed by Him, not only taking in His counsel, but meditating on it, mulling it over in my mind, and making it the counsel I not only hear, but heed. As Peter put it so well, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)