There But For The Grace Of God

I suspect we’ve all heard, “There but for the grace of God go I.”  Truth be told, I think we all know how true those words are.  This world has so much to offer with all of its enticements… and how easy it is for any one of us to be swayed aside… but for the wisdom found in God’s word.

I’m thankful to God for preserving me from being enticed to follow a path that seemed so good, so right when younger… which, in reality, would lead to destruction.  Studying the book of Proverbs in Sunday School was an eye opener.  Oh, I’ve read it before, but have not studied it verse by verse in a class setting with a good instructor like our pastor.  Here, the wisdom of Israel’s King Solomon is directly before us as he speaks to his son(s) and daughter(s), his children… us… me.  And, knowing his life’s story, the reading becomes even more poignant.

When King David died, his son, Solomon, took over the reign.  In a dream, God told Solomon to ask for anything.  Rather than great riches, the humble king asked for wisdom with which to rule.  I sure hope I would have thought to ask for that!  In granting his request, the Lord gave Solomon not only great wisdom beyond compare, but also great riches.  There was no one like him before or since.

To know the rest of the story is to understand that, although Solomon began his reign intending to follow God’s precepts, he was soon swayed by the world’s enticements.  From humble and wise beginnings, Solomon gradually took to himself 700 wives and 300 concubines, allowing worship altars to be built for all their various gods.  And it wasn’t long before this worship by his wives of their pagan gods also contributed to an undermining of his own faithful worship of the one true God.

In studying the great and powerful words of wisdom in Proverbs, I can’t help but be struck by the fact that at the end of his life, Solomon realized how far he had fallen.  His had been a life of great riches with glory and fame following wherever his wisdom and searching soul led him, and he was left to ponder at what he had gained.

Believed to have also been written by Solomon, Ecclesiastes begins:  “The word of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem:  Meaningless! Meaningless!  says the Teacher.  Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.  What does man gain from all his labor…?  …I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven.  What a heavy burden God has laid on men!  I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”  (Eccl. 1:1, 2, 13, 14)

Understanding that he had pursued all that which wisdom had to offer in this life, it appears the Teacher, presumably Solomon, was not afraid to admit it had all been for naught.  His conclusion, instead, was that there was a purpose to be found in the relationship with his, and our, one true God.  For, in the end, the Teacher concluded, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…and the spirit returns to God who gave it… Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  (Eccl. 12: 1, 7, 13)

And these were the thoughts which came to mind as I reflected on this poem well after it was written.  Not one of us can say we are sin free.  Assuredly, we haven’t committed major crimes.  But, deep inside, in all honesty, our heart is not always pure as we struggle in our human attempts to follow a perfect Lord.  We, a product of this world, tend to seek our own way in our daily walk – and I know my own bent.  And I am so thankful that He pursues us with a never-ending boundless love.

May I learn from Solomon’s wisdom, and from his mistakes, and humbly bow my heart to our Lord.  May I learn to follow His words of wisdom, and His will for my life, wherever He may lead… for “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Psalm 119:105 NIV)

Your Word

Linda A. Roorda

Your word is like a comforting hand

Within the midst of stress-filled days

It calms the heart and soothes the soul

To find a peace within Your embrace.

Your word is like a sharpened sword

It pierces the soul with words brought to mind

Causing a change when nothing else can

Instructing me, Your wisdom to heed.

Your word is like a beautiful scene

That greets my eyes, tranquil and serene

It points to You, Creator of all

Showing Your power and infinite might.

Your word is like a solid rock

Unshakeable with its absolute truth

Lasting forever, foundation secure

Its wisdom gained to guide and to lead.

Your word is like the calm after storms

When winds blow fierce and clouds gather dark

As rain pours down to freshen this world

So to the soul are Your words of peace.

Your word is like a beautiful bud

Daily growing under sun and rain

It opens wide with petals of silk

To show the world its hidden glory.

Your word is like a fine sunny day

With healing warmth down deep in the soul

It broadens faith, shines light on wisdom

And illumine steps to direct my path.

~~

10/27/14

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