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"I Thought On My Ways"

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." "A rut is nothing more than a grave with the ends kicked out." These two well known quotes are reminders that if things are to change, we ourselves have to change. Catalysts for change are as varied as the reasons for the desired changes. Maybe we want to improve our financial situation. Perhaps we want to look and feel better physically. It could be that we want to improve our marriage. In each of these examples, we would find ourselves pursuing the necessary outlets for achieving our desired goals. We might consult a financial advisor or go back to school in the first case. In the second example, we might try a diet or purchase a gym membership. In the third scenario, we might go to counseling sessions or read some pertinent books. In any case, the help is there. We would just have to go after it, BUT, before we would go after it, we would have to recognize the need for it. Before change can happen, we have to recognize the need for change.

The title of this article is very simple and yet profound. The Psalmist made this statement in Psalm 119:59. Like many of the divisions of Psalm 119, this section extols the glory and power of God's inspired Word. In this section, which is comprised of verses 57 through 64, we find that God's mercy is extended through His Word and that His righteous judgments are found therein. We also find in this section several commitments from the writer to honor God's Word. "I have said that I would keep thy words." (verse 57). I "turned my feet unto thy testimonies." (verse 59). "I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments." (verse 60). "I have not forgotten thy law." (verse 61). Behind all of this recognition of the greatness of God's Word and commitment to keeping it was the Psalmist's simple sentence, "I thought on my ways." Before he could truly know and appreciate the blessings that come from above, the Psalmist had to think on his ways. He had to consider the two directions that lay before him, one that would lead him away from God and one that would draw him nearer (Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Matthew 7:13-14). He had to think about the eternal truth that would later be penned by Jeremiah that "the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jeremiah 10:23). Like the prodigal son who "came to himself" (Luke 15:17), he had to take stock of his situation and realize that God's way was better than his way (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Many times we find ourselves caught up in the past. We go back there in our mind's eye to relive the glory days. We go back there in hopes of making right those things that we did wrong. We spend a lot of time in the past. At other times we find ourselves living in the future. We're busy thinking about what we wish we could become. Sometimes we burden ourselves with worry about what's ahead. We spend a lot of time in the future. May I suggest that it's not the visits to the past or the future that will chart our course? Instead, it's what we do in the moment that determines our direction. "I thought on my ways" indicates mental participation in the present. Granted, the past is involved as we think about how we got where we are and the future is involved as we consider where we could end up, but thinking about where we are and what we can do to improve ourselves is a "live action" activity. The lazy individual says, "I just don't feel like thinking about my life." The careless person says, "There's nothing I can do about my situation. I'm too set in my ways." The procrastinator says, "I'll think about what I need to do, but not right now." The thoughtful person says, "I can always do better. I must do something now to improve myself." With that thought, like the Psalmist, he or she then sets out to dig more deeply into God's Word so that they can be better prepared to battle "the bands of the wicked" (Psalm 119:61).

We often think about where we are financially or physically. We may continue to spend money unwisely or eat in an unhealthy manner but we do often think about these conditions. How much time do we spend thinking about our spiritual ways? More importantly, when we see the need for improvement, what do we do about it?

Mike Gifford

2462 Oak Bluff Drive
Dacula, GA 30019

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