Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own;
it is not for man to direct his steps.
The Japanese translation of this verse brings to mind a Southern Gospel song I heard recently that I found very moving: “I Can’t Even Walk Without You Holding My Hand.” As I listened to it, I found myself dissolved in tears of gratefulness and worship, because it is so true. Jeremiah lived what most of us would consider a very hard life, and he did it with full integrity and faithfulness to God. He was very aware that he couldn’t take any steps with certainty on his own; it had to be God enabling him. When life is easy, that can be a truth that is easy to forget. Moses cautioned the Israelites on this in Deuteronomy 8. Verse 5 is the justly famous, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.” He then goes on to talk about forgetting the Lord when they become prosperous. We have a remarkable capacity for taking credit for good things that happen, while denying responsibility for the bad. The fact of the matter is, God plans good things for us, and we are the ones who mess it up. God sometimes has to allow severe things in our lives to get us back on track, because otherwise we’d be stumbling over a cliff in no time. The better we grasp this reality, the better we will listen to God and stick with Him, enjoying His blessing on this earth and in eternity.
I certainly have the impulse to take credit for the good and avoid responsibility for anything else, and I’ve got to guard against acting on that. As a pastor/teacher, there’s the temptation to think I’ve got it all together since I’m telling others how they should walk, which is compounded by admiring comments from those around me. Pride is such a trap! I’ve got to remember that in God’s kingdom, genuine humility is indeed the path to exaltation. (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6) It goes against the grain to acknowledge, as the song says, that I can’t even walk without God holding my hand, but it is enormously liberating when I do so.
Father, thank You for the time the other night when I was listening to that song, and thank You for reminding me of it this morning. Thank You for the examples of Jeremiah, Paul, and others who realized this truth and expressed it for the benefit of those who would come after them. Help me both walk in this truth and communicate it to the believers here, so that we may be the children and disciples You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!