Learning in Life – Watch Where Your Shadow Falls

Shadow on the Shot

It would have been a lovely photo of Black-eyed Susans in our backyard. But, I wasn’t thinking or noticing where my shadow fell.

One point in my personal mission statement is “Pay Attention”. Obviously I wasn’t doing that with this shot. Sometimes when we don’t pay attention we can let our shadow fall on others – a sharp word or a bit of ignoring – darken their world or at least rub some of the brightness off.

Let’s picture the photo above without the shadow and take it with us as we pay attention.

“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3 ESV

Keep the Paths of Righteousness Open, for His Name’s Sake

English: Back Walk, Wymondham. Looking east al...

“The way to keep a path open is to walk on it”. When you first read this proverb, like many of them (including some in the Book of Proverbs) it seems obvious and not very deep. Of course the way to keep a path open is to walk on it – what’s so significant about that? The significance is not in the statement of fact, but in our reaction to it – from our thoughts on what it means in relation to our lives.

When I first heard this, I thought of a path through tall grass along the edge of a lake. Here and there the path veers off to a clear fishing spot on the bank. Over time if you don’t walk on it and keep it open, it will become covered with grass, weeds and thorns. At some point, trees can even start covering up the clear spots.

Several other “paths” in life came to mind:  The path between me and God; The path between me and my wife and family; The path between my house and the Church; The path between me and my Brothers and Sisters in Christ; The path of service; The path of obedience; The paths of righteousness.

All of these paths must be travelled constantly to keep them open. If we neglect them they can become covered in weeds and thorns, making them more difficult to walk. If we neglect them too long we may find that trees have grown up and obscured the paths completely.

The mention of the “paths of righteousness” is meant to bring to mind the 23rd Psalm: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” (v3). I believe that tells us why we are to continue walking these paths to keep them open. Not just because they’re “good” things to do, but we are to keep them open for God’s name’s sake. All that we do should bring glory to God. Allowing weeds, thorns and trees to cover a path we should be walking doesn’t bring glory to Him, especially if it is the path between us and God.

Praying and Pondering Go Well Together

National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Praying can lead to pondering. And, pondering can lead to praying. They go well together and the Psalms often combine the two.

There are several good synonyms used to define ponder (and I’ll use various ones): meditate, consider, deliberate, contemplate, and muse. The longer definition of ponder that appeals to me is “To weigh in the mind, with thoroughness and care.” It’s not just a quick thought and then move on – the thoroughness and care are critical.

David gives a good example of praying and pondering in Psalm 143. “Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.” (v1-2). David prays for mercy, and then considers that on his own, he isn’t righteous before God.

In verses 3 and 4, he ponders to the point of “Woe is me!”

“For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.” (v3-4)

            Then his contemplation turns in the right direction:

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah” (v5-6)

And, David finishes the Psalm with combinations of praying and pondering – acknowledging how much he needs God’s help and mercy, and giving the reasons he is asking for that help and mercy.  David concludes that all will be well because he is God’s servant.

Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! I have fled to you for refuge! Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.”(v7-12)

It is good for us to ponder long on the goodness and greatness of God, and meditate on what He has done for us. The more we thoroughly and carefully ponder those things, the deeper our prayer life will be.

Please, Lord, Make it Real!


prayer.. (Photo credit: aronki)

“Please, Lord, make it real!”

I find myself praying that when I realize all the ways I fall short of where I need (and want) to be. “Real” can mean several positive things – like good, right, pure, strong, or genuine. When I ask God to make it real, I’m not shunning my responsibilities and saying it’s all up to Him. I am acknowledging that without His help and power I am helpless to do anything.

Please, Lord, make it real –

Make my anger a righteous anger for Your Name and Your Word – not just pettiness because someone offends me or has a different opinion than I do.

Make my compassion be from the depths of my heart and carried out with action – not shallow and within myself

Make my passion a passion for Christ and His righteousness – not for material things

Make my love a willingness to sacrifice with no thought of gain – not a simple emotion in response to others treating me well

Make my trust in You Rock solid through all times, good and bad – not just an “oh, well” or a “whatever”, or only evident when things go well.

The Bible tells of a father who brought his demon-tortured son to Jesus with the hope He could heal him. He asked that if Jesus was able to do anything, would He have compassion and help them? Jesus replied that if he believed, all things were possible, and the man cried out in tears “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 NKJV).

Lord, I believe. Please, make it real in every aspect of my life.