The Lord Directs Our Steps

I love that when I workout at our local YMCA I hear the encouragement of my favorite Christian artists piped through the music system, and that the last thing I see as I leave is encouragement from God’s word ~ a verse written daily on the white board near the exit.

On second thought, today might have been a little embarrasing as tears rolled down my cheeks upon hearing Matt Maher’s ‘Christ is Risen.’ Hopefully, my fellow Y athletes just thought I working through the burn…well, nevermind.

The verse though was one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

I’ve been thinking about this verse for the past couple of weeks since a new reality in my life has to do with the pedometer affixed to my clothing on a daily basis. As a participant in a medical trial, one of the requirements is to try to log in 10,ooo steps a day. You might know that this is the current recommended level of minimum activity for fitness. And if you know me, my former existence fell far short of the minimum. And yet I am determined to meet the goal.

Even with my newfound determination logging in 10,000 steps isn’t always easy. I’m finding it certainly takes a trip to the Y most days, which requires me to plan well to set aside the time. “The mind of a woman plans her way…” This is how the verse first came to me. I was dutifully headed to the Y to log in my steps when my cell phone rang.

My friend had just come in to town and wanted to have coffee. Knowing she’s been having a rough time lately I figured I could visit the Y later, so I agreed to meet her. “…but the Lord directs my steps.” In these moments, a friendship was deepened. We spoke words of encouragement to one another. And God was praised for His goodness. I never did make it to the Y that day.

That’s when the verse came to my mind. And a gentle whisper from the Lord about priorities and balance. Ironically, it was another, not-so-gentle, whisper that had prompted me to join the medical trial and so when this nudge came it reminded me that no matter what God asks me to do, it is my obedience to the thing He places before me at the moment that matters.

Adding steps to my pedometer may help my waistline and my overall health. And it’s tempting to guard that time from anything that seems like an interruption in my life. But, as we learned this summer in Priscilla Shirer’s Jonah study, the decision to go or not go to coffee with a friend in need could have eternal consequences. It is more likely that God has arranged a divine intervention for His own plans and purposes.

May we never hold too tightly to our own plans that we miss the opportunity to participate in His. As He says in Isaiah 55 ~ His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. I pray that we each one would seek Him daily to be in tune to the Spirit whom He uses to direct our steps.

Speaking of steps, anyone wanna go to the Y?

An Awe-Sensing Church

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” Acts 2:42-43

This description of the early church in the apostle Luke’s account never ceases to stir my heart. In the margin of my Bible, I once wrote: ‘The sign of a committed church,’ probably in response to a sermon I had heard. Often as I come to this passage I reflect on how our church measures up in relationship to the verse.

Yesterday was a different story. Throughout the morning I was in awe at the things I observed during our worship service: A musician just back from the mission field, playing his instrument with renewed passion. An overflow of donated school supplies on the steps to the platform. The prayers of my friend’s daughters, who had been invited to participate as part of Family Worship Month.

As we came to a time of communion, I was actually reminded of this verse as I observed interactions between people in the pews with people who were making their way down the aisles. We always have an exuberant time of ‘family greetings’ each Sunday, but this was something entirely different.

In those few short moments I saw people reach out of the pews to greet one another: the young man who had fallen ill while at a sports competition in a foreign country, whom we had prayed for, was now home and on the mend with an incredible story of God’s grace and mercy; the couple who had been very active in revitalizing our small group ministry before moving away to be nearer to their children and grandchildren had come for a visit; the woman whose daughter had passed away recently from cancer attending with her son and daughter-in-law.

Tears sprang to my eyes as I saw hand after hand reach out to greet, comfort, and love on one another. And the delight and care that passed from person to person. All this after hearing a powerful sermon from Oxford University mathematician, and one of the premier apologists of our day, Professor John Lennox on the power of God to transcend the laws of nature ~ gravity to be specific ~ such that He was able to miraculously raise Jesus from the dead. And how that foundational truth of our faith is proven by Luke’s description as he reiterated that it had been seen, observed, witnessed by many. Now these witnesses were taking the gospel into a sick and hurting world, as Lennox pointed out, taking the word of God which was increasing such that the church was growing.

It was not lost on me, however, as I found myself sitting next to my friend whose wife was at home with her father, sitting vigil by his bedside as he succumbs to Alzheimer’s, that when Lennox spoke of the equally miraculous return of Jesus, yet to come, we must continue to devote ourselves to the word and to one another. There is still much sickness and hurt that needs to be covered by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.

We were reminded by the Professor, that we each have been invited to participate in this gospel so that others will see, observe and witness the difference our Savior’s miraculous resurrection has made in our lives. The difference it can make in their lives. Participation requires commitment. A commitment to God’s word, and a commitment to His people.

Yesterday, I was truly in awe of my brothers and sisters who modeled that kind of commitment. A commitment to love one another, a commitment to provide for the community, a commitment to share God’s love in a hurting world. Don’t know that I’ve ever been prouder to be a part of the bread-breaking, praying, awe-sensing Church … I hope you are too!

Rejoicing with you,