Lord, please open our hearts and ears to what is contained in Your Word for us today. Proverbs 3:1-10
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.[a]
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
"Living inside out, that's what it's all about -- dare to live, dare to shine, from the inside out."
As I read today's reading, I found myself singing the above lyrics from the theme song of our elementary class in Children's Ministry.
For me, it sums up the verses above - God shares so much practicality on how to live on the inside - how to stay connected with Him, follow His commands, love, be faithful, trust God, seek God in all things, be humble, and honor God by dedicating the best of ourselves to Him.
But the verses don't leave it there; they also give a glimpse of what the outside will look like when the living inside is happening as described -
- a prolonged life - remember that Kingdom views are so much bigger than ours - eternal life, exponential impact are more "prolonging" than physical existence on this earth,
- favor with God and man - love and faithfulness (and the other fruits of the Holy Spirit) can't help but shine out and affect our relationship with those around us,
- straight pathway - staying connected to God internally is lived out in the choices we make and the the way we live our lives because we can't help but follow the Compass that connection provides,
- health - physically, spiritually and emotionally,
- abundant fruit production - our faith in Christ will be evident in so many ways, it's overflowing.
It just seems that the list is so simple and practical - God says to stay connected to Me, seek Me, love Me, be faithful to Me, honor Me - so why is it so hard to do?
For me, I've always had a push and pull struggle with my weight. Up, down, sideways - I can never seem to get it figured out. But why not? It's a very simply formula - calories taken in need to be less than calories spent. Period. Easy, right?
For some of you, I can imagine it is, and I sooo admire you for that. But it isn't that simple for me. That simple formula assumes nothing else gets in the way of or influences what calories I take in or expend. That formula assumes I can apply it in any situation I encounter in my day, any emotion, any stress, or any obstacle. In fact, the real truth is I can want it, I can plan to do it, I can apply it some of the time, but many times I just can't keep it forefront in my mind. It is SUCH a simple formula, yet I easily fail at following it.
What would make me successful at following this formula more frequently? Maybe even having the formula develop into a habit, then a need, then an automatic, integral part of each of my days? Journaling? Planning? Intentionally checking on my actions and my thoughts as it pertains to all aspects of my life (I'm aware that it's not just at meals that I'm affected by this issue)?
What are the fruits of this simple formula? A healthier life, a better chance at being the "me" I know myself to be but often isn't seen, confidence, energy, a feeling of beauty, and on and on.
See, I know the simple formula, I know what it takes to succeed, and I know what the fruits are. And yet it is the HARDEST thing I face each day.
I do believe that God is intending to give us this insight in Proverbs so we know what formula is - to stay connected with Him in faith and relationship in all ways and all times. He gives us examples of what that will look like - what the fruits of this connection will be. But I don't believe He thinks we can simply, practically make it happen without difficulty. He knows what we are facing. He knows how hard following Him truly can be in this world. God doesn't want us to stop trying though.
He wants us to remember that "living inside out" is the goal - and that whatever we are living inside is what is being displayed on the outside. He so badly wants this beautiful, simple formula for us. I thank God I get try again every day to be on the inside what He desires for me, so that I can shine on the outside the way He intends me to. And by His leading, I will get the other "simple formulas" figured out too!
How did today's reading strike you?