I have resolved to live my life according to God’s Word. I want to abide by His commandments and His will, and thereby give up my own will. I know that God wants the very best for my life, and I therefore want to do what is written in the Bible.
I am very satisfied with this decision because living this life makes me happy. Nevertheless, at times I feel like I am just going in circles without actually getting anywhere. My stomach is in a knot. This isn’t how my life is supposed to be, is it?
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:2.
Why, then, do I not have this same rest, this total peace? Sure, I have a degree of rest because I know I have God. That makes me happy. And yet, my state of mind is not entirely consistent with the description in the Bible. What am I so uneasy about? Suddenly, I find the answer. As usual, the Bible is able to give me the answer. It’s written like this:
“The way of peace they have not known,
And there is no justice in their ways;
They have made themselves crooked paths;
Whoever takes that way shall not know peace.” Isaiah 59:8.
Am I walking on crooked paths?
What is meant by a “crooked path”? You could look up “crooked” and find the synonym “devious”. Other definitions include circuitous, deceitful, and dishonest. Is this the sort of thing I am carrying on with? Am I walking on crooked paths?
It is in fact dishonest to try to hide my sins, which I have an unfortunate tendency to do. I find at times that I would like to sort of cover up things I know I need to work on. It is hard simply to let go of what I want, to lay it aside and allow God’s Word to deal with it. My human tendency is to do everything I can to hang on to what I want; even if I know full well that I must give it up.
It could be that I don’t dare to let God direct certain things in my life – it is downright scary to lose control. Even though I am sick and tired of constantly messing it up for myself, and have determined to leave everything in God’s hands, it is very tempting to hold on to some of the control. If you are struggling with egotism, for example, it may be tempting to sweep part of the problem under the carpet, because you actually want to think about yourself a little, and then you can’t bear to take a stand against it – not now, anyway.
Detouring off the right path
“Not today. I’ll do it later. I’m going through a bit of a difficult time right now, so…” It is precisely those kinds of thoughts that are devious and dishonest – crooked paths! Those paths lead nowhere, but are detours that delay the work and progress in my life. They are crooked, convoluted paths, full of blind alleys and steep, treacherous hills. It is easy to get lost, and if I do, it can be difficult to find my way back to the path God actually has prepared for me. You keep pushing the boundaries, having excuses for everything, because you can’t bear to hear the truth and do anything about it.
Eventually, you’ve gone way off course, and you can’t find your way out because you don’t hear God’s voice; you don’t see God’s way. “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing And their eyes they have closed…” Matthew 13:14-15. Even if I am lucky enough to get back on the right path, I will have used an unnecessarily long time just to get back to where I was before I got lost. What a waste!
Real peace comes from walking the right path
Walking on such dangerous paths makes a person uneasy. To have real peace in my heart, I have to know that I am walking the right direction on God’s ways, not wasting my time in by-ways and blind alleys. Therefore, I need to stop covering up the sins I ought to be cleaning up. I must make an end to it – every little shadow of an evil thought, all attention-seeking, all stinginess.
If I work to keep my pathway clean, I won’t have any reason for having a guilty conscience. I am at peace, because I know I am on the right way. This way is bright and clear, simple, uncomplicated – as long as I hold to God’s Word, without trying to cheat.
“And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” 2 Timothy 2:5.