My Way vs. God’s Way; July 2, 2021


Psalm 142:3 When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who know my way.

For once we have perfect agreement between the English and the Japanese! That leaves me very confident of the meaning of the words themselves, but it leaves room for interpretation of what they imply. I think the situation described here is emotional exhaustion. We’ve all been there, when we hardly know which way is up, and really don’t much even care. Physical tiredness is usually related, so proper sleep is an important step, but that’s certainly not the whole story. The second line gives us real insight into the situation, because David recognizes that God knows both where he is and where he should be. All too often we know neither! Occasionally this might apply to being geographically lost, but it is far deeper than that. To be honest, I doubt if any of us know fully “where we are” on every level. We may think we are fine when we are in grave danger, and we might be anxious when we’re on exactly the right path. God alone knows fully, so the vital thing is knowing and following Him. We might know that our eventual destination is heaven, but we have very little understanding of the route by which we are to get there, or the stops along the way. That uncertainty is one of the things that can wear us out emotionally, so that’s why it’s so important to trust that God indeed knows all the details, and His plan is for our benefit. From the first time I heard it I have thought that Frank Sinatra’s signature song, My Way, was one of the most pathetic songs possible. The music is very skillful and has brought the song great popularity, certainly in Japan, but the lyrics, fully descriptive of the life of Frank Sinatra and so many others, display an ignorance of and indifference to God that is pathetic indeed. When we try to dictate the details of our life we make a total mess of it, as indeed he did, squandering the gift of a magnificent voice and other abilities. David blew it too, but he came back to God. That needs to be our goal.

I’ve definitely had times when I was wandering aimlessly on many levels, and I don’t recommend it. The irony is that I have known from childhood that God had a way that was best, and that He had a way specifically for me, but I haven’t sought it for too much of the time. I haven’t set up grand plans for myself – I’m not big on planning in general – but too often I haven’t paid attention to whether the path I was on was truly God’s way for me, even when I was supposedly a “full-time Christian worker.” That has led to wasted effort and unnecessary detours. However, God indeed doesn’t waste anything, but turns my foolishness and even my sin around and uses it for good. (Romans 8:29) That’s not at all to say it wouldn’t have been better if I had sought Him in the first place! At this point I have much more of my physical life behind me than I do ahead of me, but it’s still important that I spend each day, each moment, in the way God knows is best, both for me and for those around me, and indeed, for His kingdom. That is to be my goal, and I’ve got to remember that only He knows the details, and so listen attentively to Him.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I see all sorts of things going on in my life and in the world around me, and I can’t begin to keep it all straight. Keep me from panic, and keep me from abdicating my responsibility in each thing that involves me. I find I am easily distracted from what is actually the task at hand. Help me focus on You so that I may recognize what that task is and apply myself to it fully, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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