“Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked” (Eccles. 7:13).
This morning, my mind has been speeding along trying to figure out an efficient way to get more into this day than is possible (at least for me), to move straight from here to there. I overslept after a rough night and in the rush to catch up on my morning routine, I thought to skim through devotions. Then, upon opening the email that I thought was today’s reading in Streams in the Desert, I was brought up short.
“Consider the work of God . . .” OK. That sounded like pretty straightforward devotional stuff. God’s works are good, for He is good, and is constantly working things out for the good of those who love him. God’s works are right, for God knows all, sees all, and does not sin like humans. God’s works are perfect – for how could they not be, since He himself is perfect, and we run into problems mainly when we turn from His ways to our own . . .
But then came the second part of the verse: “for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?” Life sure has been feeling crooked lately! Conundrums at school and work, challenges that I don’t know how to meet in the present and looming pressures just over the horizon. But God makes some things crooked? I thought His was the straight and narrow way, the smooth path that even the lame could follow! What is this about crooked paths that God makes? Then I realized that another ‘formula’ I had created for myself would have to fall. God is not in the business of giving us ways to figure out what he is doing by looking at the circumstances and then calculating. We can’t look at the path and say, “Hmm, that path looks narrowest and straightest, so it must be the right one,” or “This path looks just like the one God took [insert spiritual hero here] on, so it must be the one I should take.” Instead He asks us to talk to Him, lean on Him, listen for Him, and follow Him. Life is not a puzzle to solve, it is a relationship to develop.
Then I clicked back to my email and saw another Streams in the Desert email had arrived. Today’s actual reading was based around Exodus 34:2-3 “Be ready in the morning, and come up…present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee” I am chastened. I had set out to skim through a reading, to not spend too much time, to mumble a prayer and run. But what was called for was not that. What was called for was an actual pause, a full stop, to be with and hear from God. As quoted in the reading that is actually for today,
Take thy first walk with God!
Let Him go forth with thee;
By stream, or sea, or mountain path,
Seek still His company.
Thy first transaction be
With God Himself above;
So shall thy business prosper well,
And all the day be love.