We use walls a lot in our world. They support structures such as our homes. They keep things out, like the Great Wall of China kept out invaders. Or they keep things in, like we use our fence (basically a wooden wall) to keep our dog in the back yard. But we also use walls to designate a boundary line. The most famous of this type of wall would be the Berlin Wall. It marked the boundary between East Germany (communist) and West Germany (democratic). There were stiff penalties if one was caught trying to cross the boundary from East Germany into West Germany.
In Proverbs 3:6, God gives us a boundary for our faith and a line that we should never cross. It reads: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Pretend like the comma in that verse is a wall, a boundary wall. The first half of the verse is our side of the wall. It is where we should dwell. The second half of the verse is God’s side of the wall. It is where we should never go.
Our responsibility as God-followers is to “acknowledge him in all of our ways.” That means that we are to live our lives committed to God’s word. Every decision, every thought, every choice, every action of every moment should all acknowledge him in our life. When I have a choice of letting my daughter go to her ballet rehearsal on Wednesday night or participating in Bible study, then I choose Bible study every time. Why? Because I want to acknowledge God in all of my ways. When I choose to bite my tongue instead of letting anger spew forth, even if I have a legitimate complaint, or choose to let my anger cool before responding. Why? Because I want to acknowledge God in all of my ways.
God’s promise to us is that if we acknowledge Him, then He will “make our path straight.” That means that He will lead us and take care of us. He will direct our life the way it needs to go. It does not mean that we will never be tempted, have trials, or have heartache. God doesn’t promise us a life without problems, but He does promise to lead our path. We may not always understand what is happening, but we can be secure that God is in control.
The problem comes when we try to cross that wall, when we want to take over directing our own paths. Maybe we have in our mind the way that the problem should be handled, we have our own timetable of when it should be handled, and we know exactly the outcome that we want. There is only one hitch in that plan. You have just crossed over the wall and invaded God’s territory. It is not up to us to determine how a problem should be resolved. It is not up to you when your trial should end. It is not up to you to decide the outcome.
The companion verse in the New Testament is found in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (emphasis mine). This phrase explains to us why staying on our side of the wall is such a hard thing to do. We must present ourselves as a living sacrifice; we must live our lives in submission to God. And as I heard someone say once, “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off the altar!” So every day, hour, minute, or second, we must constantly be checking ourselves to make sure that we are acknowledging God and staying out of His territory.
When we live our lives following Proverbs 3:6, the result will be all of the benefits of a wall. It will support us on our way to heaven. It will keep out things that hinder our walk, like sin, worry, discontentment. It will keep in things like peace, love, and joy. And it will give us a boundary or a marker to make sure that we are living our lives in faith.
By Chelli Guthrie
Chelli and her husband Luke serve with the Abell Street church of Christ in Wharton, Texas where Luke serves as the preacher. Chelli teaches the Jr. High Bible class on Sunday morning and runs the Children’s Bible Hour program on Sunday night. She is a homeschooling mom to three children. Be sure to check out her excellent blog at www.theplantedtrees.blogspot.com.