Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds us by the hand.
It’s uncanny how the wrong turns I made in Dallas traffic last week sparked insight into the meaning of grace. It came to me as we were en route to meet our kids and grandkids for dinner. Having lived in Dallas a generation ago I felt a little proud of knowing my way. I was born directionally challenged, but fancied showing my wife Rita that I knew where I was going. I would show her that I knew a better way to go than her smart phone GPS.
Please understand that I have learned the wisdom of listening to Rita, but I was not about to listen to the robotic voice on her phone, no matter that it was “smart”. So when I heard the feminine voice of the phone’s GPS telling me to turn left, I stepped on the gas instead. I barreled right on through, feeling pleased that I knew a better way.
My Inner Child was taken aback when the GPS did not scold me for missing the turn, or ask what the heck I was doing. Rather, the GPS simply advised that it was “recalculating” my route. Regardless of missing my turn, it told me that it would get me where I wanted to go. But I was still sure I knew a better way.
Let me make a long story short. We did make it to dinner, but barely on time. No thanks to me! Mea Culpa! I ate humble pie early that night but reasoned that they must have changed the whole Dallas street system, or something. But I did learn to listen to the GPS!
All this got me to thinking about God and how He has guided my way. As I held and rocked my little grandkids that week, I thought about seeing a generation come and go, and how God’s way has always proven right. I have not always thought it at the time. I have made wrong turns and taken other ways. I have not always listened to God or sought out His guidance. But each time God has “recalculated” my way. He has not scolded or shamed me, but picked me up, dusted me off, and walked the way with me.
Today’s text about wrong turns is from one of David’s psalms. They are the words of a man who has sinned greatly and been greatly forgiven. David has made many wrong turns, but again and again the Lord recalculated his way. I have long treasured and clung to David’s words and found great encouragement for my own life.
In Psalm 37 David is picturing life as a journey; he writes from the vantage point of having watched a generation come and go (“I have been young, and now am old” 37:25). As David reflects on life he sees how the Lord makes “firm” the steps of His children. He sees how even when “we stumble” we will not “fall headlong” because the Lord “holds us by the hand”.
There is not a mess we can get into, or a wrong road taken, but that God will meet us where we are. If we only ask, He will guide us in the right way (Psalm 32:8; Proverbs 4:18, 25-27) and direct our paths (Proverbs 3:-6). And when we take a wrong turn and stumble, He will hold us by the hand.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Lord recalculating our way and have remembered the words of J. Sidlow Baxter:
“There is a compassionate adaptability about God’s will for us. Because we have not been in God’s special will for us from the beginning, there is no reason why we should not get into it now. He can take up from where we get right.” (Awake, My Heart: Daily Devotional Studies for the Year)
I thank God for his “compassionate adaptability” in my life and yours, and readiness to recalculate our way. No matter our wrong turns or defiance, God will meet us right where we are. It isn’t too late! We can get into God’s will and direction for our life now! Right where we are!
Grace and peace,
photo by Anthro136k Spring2011