“ Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Proverbs 29:18 NIV
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25 NIV
Proverbs 29 helps us by offering wisdom as we discern. Proverbs 29:18 and 25 are key to my understanding of what God needs for me to glean from this scripture. I hope my thoughts are helpful for you as well. As I stated in a previous post, I like to read the Message paraphrase after first reading my translation. The Message says in verse 18, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what God reveals, they are most blessed.”, and in verse 25, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” These two verses resonated with me as I was reading and praying with this scripture. As I have spent time reading and rereading this passage I am brought back to my younger years. They say that at a certain age you quit worrying about what others think about you, and you make your life your own. I mostly agree with this, but I don’t think it is a one and done decision and then you are free from those trappings. At least for me it has been gradual.
In my teens I was always racing for the trends, trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted. But I always had that root system and good soil, my growing faith journey, that kept me from spinning out of control. God’s presence was revealed through wise people in my life. Did I always recognize it immediately? Nope! I would stumble all over myself, but once I listened, God walked with me as I found my way. In my early thirties I had another revelation as it pertained to my calling as a Minister of the Gospel. In a particularly difficult season, pregnant with my first child, I questioned my calling. Ultimately my fear of human opinions almost undid my ministry and me. But I remember clearly the night I realized that I would never make everyone I served happy all the time, and it was OK if not all people liked me. That is an important revelation for all people, not just ministers. I was sitting in the new glider in the room that would become the nursery. My heart was heavy and I felt trapped. I’m not sure if I was praying consciously, but I just remember a tug at my heart and thinking, “What do you want this little girl that will be born in a couple of months, to know about following God?” My heart answered, “It’s not always easy and it’s not always clear, but your faith binds you to the hem of God’s robe on your hardest days and let’s you walk confidently with God on your best days. Everything in between is your blessing.” I looked up and saw my ordination certificate hanging on the wall and I remembered the sermon from my Ordination service. Dr. Bill Self, was the Senior Pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church, the church that ordained me and blessed my ministry. The title of his sermon was “Don’t Do Anything Stupid”. One of his points was (and I am paraphrasing because it has been almost 21 years), “You’re never going to make everyone happy so don’t be stupid and try.” He followed it up by saying as long as you can say with integrity that you are following God’s guidance and your goal is to glorify God in whatever choice that has made someone unhappy, then you have done the faithful hard work of a follower of Jesus and as a minister. But if you find that your decision is faulty make sure to admit it, apologize, and work on a new solution with faith in God’s guidance.” That night I chose not to do the stupid thing and resign. I chose the most faithful path and asked for guidance from my colleagues. We all went through leadership training together and I have to say that the next 7 years of ministry were filled with blessings. Through that difficult situation God’s plan for ministry, in that time and place, was revealed to us.
As you read Proverbs 29 today you may not be able to see what God is doing right now, remember to trust God in the murkiness and you will be safe. If you are feeling connected and walking confidently with God remember to stay aware to those walking around you, they may need your light to be able to see God today. I pray for the blessings of peace and grace for each of you today.