October 29, 2013

Introducing the Why

It was a typical Sabbath lunch at my in-laws’ house. Well, typical for us, anyway. You see, my wife is the seventh of eight kids, four boys and four girls. When you factor in seven spouses and 11 grandkids (with one more on the way), our immediate family is nearly 30 people (more important, that means at least 110 tacos).

Sabbath lunch with my new family is probably my favorite time of the week. A few weeks ago I was sitting around the dining room table with my father-in-law and Farai, a family friend.

After just a few minutes of talking with Farai, I was extremely impressed with his spiritual knowledge and insight. An electrical engineer by trade, his testimony of finding his profession and, simultaneously, His Savior was captivating and inspirational. He paused, then looked in my direction.

“Jimmy, you know Proverbs 3:5, 6, right?”

“Of course,” I replied. “It’s one of my favorite texts.”

We began to dissect the passage, line by line.

“God promises to lead us, to make our paths straight, right?” Farai asked.

“Yep, that’s what it says.”

“But there are conditions, aren’t there?”

Let’s see . . . trust in God . . . don’t lean on my understanding . . .

Farai continued, “If I really want God to lead me, I have to surrender my will and acknowledge Him by the way I live my life.”

In all your ways acknowledge Him . . .

The Hardest Part

“Acknowledge” in Proverbs 3:6 (KJV) means “to know.” Essentially this verse tells us that in order to ensure that God will lead us and show us His will for our lives, we have to know Him.

As I have reflected on this verse, it seems simple enough. But stepping back a bit, do we really understand how all-encompassing it really is? There’s not a lot of gray area: You either know something (or someone), or you don’t, right?

For me, the question is pretty straightforward: Have I invited God into every single aspect of my life?

If someone saw my bank account or opened my refrigerator, would they know that I’m a Christian? If a church member overheard a conversation at work, would it jive with what I said in Sabbath school last week?

What if you (who know me only from my 700-word articles each month) followed me around for a week? Would you continue reading? Or would you think “hypocrite” every time you saw my face on the page?

Fortunately, our fellow humans don’t have unmitigated access to our lives. If that were the case, we’d all be in trouble. But that doesn’t mean we can get away free and clear. Ellen White wrote: “Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin. . . . Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel” (The Great Controversy, p. 482).

A little scary, huh?

Before we get to the punch line, let me be clear: This article is not a call for perfection, or a condemnation of anyone who struggles with sin. We’ve all been there, are there, and will be there again.

Rather, it’s a simple observation about what God expects from us: God wants us to acknowledge Him—to know Him—by allowing His presence into every nook, cranny, and corner of our lives. And we don’t have to do a bunch of cleaning on our own; He already knows we’re dirty and broken, and He’s happy to fix the place up if we’ll just let Him in.

Yes, God promises to make our paths straight, but don’t forget the conditions: Put faith in Him above your own feelings, and know Him above, below, and in between.