Living Words: Proverbs 20:24

Living Words: Proverbs 20:24

A person?s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?

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Living Words takes a closer look at verses in the Bible, and how we can apply them.

While Proverbs is full of essential advice, pieces of wisdom and?you know?proverbs, this has long been one of my favorite verses.

Proverbs 20:24 ? A person?s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?

Whenever I feel lost or can?t see a way forward, I think of this verse. It helps me to remember that God is in charge, He?s in control of not only my life, but of everything in the universe. His power and plans go far beyond my understanding. It reminds me of another passage, Isaiah 55:8?9, which reads:

?For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,? declares the Lord. ?As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.?

Now, this doesn?t mean we can simply abdicate responsibility. We can?t act any which way, unprepared, careening between choices and actions without accountability. Beyond the moral implications, there are plenty of verses in Proverbs 20 alone that stand in opposition to such a way of thinking. For example:

Proverbs 20:4 ? Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

Proverbs 20:13 ? Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.

Proverbs 20:18 ? Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.

While on their face these verses may appear only relevant to farmers, college students who value sleeping in, and world leaders on the brink of conflict, one can see how they speak to the value of hard work, planning, and seeking advice in just about all areas of life. You are responsible for your own actions, and for where they may bring you.

Still, Proverbs 20:24 helps us to see the light at the end of the tunnel when times are difficult and progress seems hopeless. There may be moments when you feel lost, as if you?ve done all that you can to put yourself in position for success, but you are not seeing any of the fruits of your labor.

If you have done your homework, if you?ve worked to position yourself correctly and taken care of what you must, you?ll quite likely find yourself on the right path. It?s just that you may not understand at which point of the path you?re on, or how it relates to God?s larger plan. It may very well be that you need to reconsider what ?success? even means. Does your definition match up with God?s? How can you better align your thinking, or how can you use your current situation to do the Lord?s work? What next step, no matter how small, could you take?

When I was applying to colleges, I badly wanted to go to NYU for Music Business. I was from a small town, and I wanted to live in a city. Why not the biggest city? I was sure I was going to work in the music industry, I thought myself destined to do so. Why not attend one of the best programs in the country? Despite the work I did in high school to position myself to reach that goal, I fell short. I didn?t get in. I was devastated.

I did go to school for Music Business, but in Philadelphia instead of New York. Of course, Philadelphia is much smaller than New York, but even then I dealt with an enormous culture shock. Moving to a city proved much more difficult than I thought it would be. Although I acclimated to it, I nearly moved home at the end of my first term of college. I?m not certain I would have been able to stay at school had I been in New York ? which I can hardly handle now ? instead of in Philly. Additionally, I changed majors halfway through my first year at school. I found I enjoyed music, but for me it was more of a hobby than a career path. Now, ten years later, I?m still living in Philadelphia, building a life and a career that?s quite different from what I envisioned for myself.

As an 18-year old, upset about being denied admissions to my dream school, how could I have understood my path? Who could have explained to me that not getting into NYU was a blessing in disguise?

Of course, my current situation colors my thinking. It?s impossible to know what might have happened had I been accepted to NYU. What is quite certain, though, is that I am blessed now with a life that, while quite different from what I imagined then, has been rewarding and fulfilling. Of course I want to do more, and I attempt to position myself for the future. Doing the best we can and staying diligently, praying, and keeping the faith when there are curves or obstacles in the way, that?s all we can do. In times of uncertainty or darkness, remembering that the Lord directs our steps will help to bring us peace, and help us to keep moving forward.

Proverbs 20:24 ? A person?s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?

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