I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!” When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism. Luke 7:28-29
This was part of my Bible reading today (I follow a plan that our church family is doing together. Some OT and some NT each day. Today’s NT section was Luke 7:18-35). This is a passage I’ve read countless times but something new stood out to me today. (Don’t you love that new things jump out?! Thanks Holy Spirit.)
… agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John.
… rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.
So what are these two paths? One leading to accept God and the other to reject Him?
I personally know that water baptism is spiritually significant. Something changed in my life when I was baptized in my teen years. It was a metaphorical symbol but it also caused a spiritual change in my life. God is cool like that. The life we lead on earth is interwoven with the spiritual realm. And so, on one level, these people in Luke 7 were spiritually changed when they were baptized. It was by their spiritual life that they could agree “that God’s way was right.” It was by their lack of spiritual life that they weren’t able to accept “God’s plan for them.”
But today I’m not thinking about that level. My mind is whirling with this practical question about my behaviour patterns: How many of my decisions today are tainted or even controlled by my decisions of yesterday?
I have several things going against me: I am intelligent. I am wise. I am well-educated. I am discerning. I am a strong strategic thinker. In my opinion, I am rarely wrong. It’s not that I’m stubborn… it’s just that I’m usually right so why would I change my mind? I have regretted a lot of things in my life but there are just handful that I would actually choose to do differently. Most of my decisions were right. By the way, I don’t believe I am arrogant. I’m giving an honest self-reflection in order to identify a potential pitfall.
And, yes, it’s as I thought: I am like the Pharisees and experts. I have intellectual, emotional and behavioural patterns in my life. I see it now: I am in danger of making the same mistake they did.
Sadly, I see that God will bring things into my life today that I will reject because of decisions I made previously. Again, it’s not that I’m stubborn. I would not reject things simply to “stick to my guns.” It’s that I’m smart and discerning. There are very good reasons why I made those past decisions. And the process of making those decisions has paved a road in my life. This road is a guide, a protection, a trajectory. And today I see this road has also become self-reliance. This road could easily lead me to a life of travesty where I think things are good but they are twisted shadow of the life I could have had.
And so my mind is digging deep into these words today:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.For throughthe grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment (Romans 12:2-3a)
I am considering the arenas of my life where I have a firmly established auto-pilot and self-confidence. I’m also considering the arenas of my life where I am tired of having to walk with God in them. And I’m considering my day today and I’m choosing to pause and ask God again about my ministry as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, mentee and mentor. I need a renewal of humility of heart and passion for God’s ways for all my relationships and work. Selah.
Father, thank you for making me with gifts of wisdom and insight and discernment. Today I remember that these a gifts from You, not substitute for You. Today I’m actively choosing to pause and talk with you instead of just plowing ahead on my self-made road. I do not want to reject You today because of yesterday’s decisions. Today I am Yours all over again. And here I feel it, once again, You have set me free from the things that cage me. A cage that I mistakenly build with my own hands. Thank you for setting me free again. Your Word is alive and powerful in my life. Thank you.
What do you think? Are there arenas of life where you have become a creature of habit? Are there ways you walk on auto-pilot that keep you from seeing God’s opportunities today?