Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip.
My husband and I were nearing the end of a long journey. It was two o’clock in the morning, and the rain was pouring steadily. We came to what we thought was an intersection where we could go either straight or turn right or left. My husband,in his tired condition, decided to go straight. We quickly found out that we had chosen an alternative that wasn’t there. We were on a high bank with our car dangerously close to tipping over. We carefully got out of the car, walked through the rain to a nearby motel, and called a wrecker. We spent the night in the motel, then continued our trip the next day.
Many of us take the wrong roads in life and we end up on a cliff, in great danger of tipping over. The rain, the dark, and our fatigue kept my husband and me from seeing reality that scary rainy night. Often, I feel my clients are blinded by misperceptions they have carried with them through life. And it is difficult to choose the right road in life when you can’t see it.
Let’s make it our goal in life to find the truth. Our faith in God and His Word will guide us there. When truth is hidden we will continually make errors in judgment. But when we see the truth, we will begin to make wise decisions.
Thought: Truth leads to the right road, so I will look for it by meditating today on God’s Word.
My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
Proverbs 1:8 is directed at children, but it is also aimed at parents. Children are to follow their father’s instruction and their mothers’ laws. But how can a father instruct if he doesn’t understand the lessons he is to teach? Fathers have the obligation to Scripture to make sure their instruction is correct. Mothers may not make their own laws, but rather must daily seek to learn God’s laws and convey them to their children.
God gave parents a sacred responsibility-to be the leaders of their families. They are their children’s most significant teachers. Children inevitably learn from their parents. It is up to the parents to choose whether their lives teach good or evil.
Parents can only do so much, of course. Children also make personal choices daily, and environmental influences can be beyond a parent’s control. Nevertheless, a parent’s job is crucial. Let’s determine today to do the best job we can, using the Word of God as a searchlight in our souls to make sure our leadership is what God wants it to be.
Thought: I cannot control my children’s or grandchildren’s current or future choices, but I can determine, by word and example, what I teach them today.
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
I Peter 5:10
That isn’t fair is an oft repeated phrase among children and adults. The truth is that often life is not fair, from a personal level to an international level. Doris had loving parents who stood by her, but no one could give her childhood back. When she graduated from high school she had to go to a junior college so she could take care of her two year-old boy. Matthew, her baby, was precious, but he was also a constant reminder that life isn’t fair. Doris learned through counseling that she could either dwell on the past and be filled with resentment or she could be thankful for her healthy baby and face the future with faith and hope. She chose the latter.
Thought: The test of my character is how I react when life isn’t fair.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Our whole family had traveled up the mountain on an aerial gondola in Vail, Colorado. The trip up went smoothly, but some strong winds rose as we started down. The gondola started rocking, then stopped its forward movement. There we were, just hanging there a hundred feet above the ground, with the wind whipping us back and forth. We prayed and held hands and hugged each other. Finally, after what seemed like a long time to us, the gondola started again and we made our descent with sighs of relief.
Fear comes in many forms. Fear of failure. Fear of heights. Fear of death. Fear of moving away. Fear of staying where we are. Fear of being abandoned. Fear can threaten our sense of well-being.
When moments of fear come, how do we respond? One helpful response is to join the psalmist in affirming, “I will fear no evil: For You are with me.” I know that God was in command of the winds that blew our gondola that day, and He is in control of every area of fear in our lives today.
Thought: Today, I will give my current fears to God, knowing He is in ultimate control.
All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility.
I Peter 5:5
Being married is a little like being on a teeter-totter. It’s no fun for one mate to be always up and the other down. No one can move if both partners insist on absolute equality. And if one partner jumps off, the other partner has no choice but to leave as well. In order to enjoy being on the teeter-totter, both partners must learn to give and take.
“You owe me and you’d better pay up.” John and Jennifer both used this phrase when they first came to therapy. Each seemed to carry a little scorebook in his or her head and to give themselves points for every “good deed.” They were constantly arguing about who had done more for the other. Their goal seemed to be to have complete equality and end up with the perfectly balanced teeter-totter. Instead, their teeter-totter was jolting up and down, with each of them being bumped as it hit the ground.
Can you imagine a couple so loving that they argue about how much they want to give to each other instead of how much they want to get from each other. As John and Jennifer’s marriage therapist, I was never able to persuade them to get that humble. But, after nine months of therapy, they had begun to develop a give and take marriage instead of the “take and take” marriage they had.
Thought: The more I give true love, the more likely I am to receive true love.
Because, although they knew God, they didn’t glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
How would you complete this sentence: “I would be happier if…?”
Sylvia spent her entire life waiting for happiness and fulfillment. When she was in high school, she was anticipating college. Then when she received her college degree, she became career oriented. Once her career was established, she lived for the week-end. Marriage became her next goal, and once she married she had a desire for children. Sylvia never really tasted life because she was always waiting.
Many of us , like Sylvia, persist in believing that happiness will be just over the next hill. This might not be so bad if we could enjoy ourselves after that hill. Instead, yet another hill always looms on the horizon. Lasting satisfaction remains elusive. And eventually “I’ll be happy if…”becomes a nostalgic “I was happy when…” Many women live the first half of their adult lives postponing satisfaction and the last half with regrets.
Happiness is not a destination; it is a journey. Happiness without holiness is a dead end. Don’t brood over what would make you happy tomorrow or what made you happy yesterday. Instead, aim for holiness, be grateful for today, look forward to tomorrow, and happiness might just be thrown in.
Prayer: Lord, help me develop the attitude of gratitude. Help me seek after holiness. Help me recognize happiness when it comes.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Self-worth is best built on how God sees us. God knows everything about us, and He loves us more than anyone on earth ever could. When we begin to understand God’s view of who we are, we will then feel free to accomplish the things God wants us to accomplish with our lives. We live in a world that yells, “Dress for success. Dress to impress. If you have it, flaunt it; if you don’t, fake it. Look out for number one.” But God tells us that building our self -worth on people and accomplishments is like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand [see Matthew 7:24-27]. The wise man built his house upon the rock, and that’s where our self-worth will be built when we accept God’s view of us.
Southern California, where I live, is full of people trying to impress others and to prove that they are somebody. We don’t have t0 do that. God is already impressed with us. We are somebody-His children. And He has equipped each of us to accomplish His plan for our lives today.
Thought: I will rethink my schedule for today, eliminating those activities designed to impress men but keeping those that will truly impress God.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
Someone asked, at my twenty-fifth college reunion, how many of us were now doing what we had originally trained to do. In our group, the answer was “No one.”
I started out to be a kindergarten teacher. Then, after teaching awhile, I entered graduate school. That led to teaching education and psychology on the college level, which I enjoyed immensely. Then my husband went back to school for his doctorate, and his studies took us to Southern California, where I resumed my teaching. Enter the United States Immigration Service, which told me I couldn’t teach because I was a Canadian taking a job away from a U.S. citizen.
At that point, I went through a dark period which required me to face the reality that I didn’t feel validated without my career. Then I started teaching women’s Bible studies, leading retreats, and writing. These pursuits made me aware of the need for further education and for counseling skills. That resulted in my entering the fields of counseling.
Never would I have envisioned the interesting path my life would take. If you had told me in college what was to take place, I wouldn’t have believed you. I don’t have any idea what the future will hold, but I do know who holds the future-it is God who directs my path.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that trough the ups and downs of life, you are directing my path. I want to keep my eyes on you.
For my mouth will speak truth.
Mind reading is a magic trick that few of us have mastered. Yet that is exactly what Racquel and Peter expected each other to do. “If you loved me you would be able to read my mind. You should be able to anticipate my needs without me having to express them.” These two assumptions were a real hindrance to growth in their marriage.
“Love is magic. If it isn’t magic, it isn’t love.” Every couple must eventually realize that a good marriage is not to be had by magical thinking, but by honestly discussing needs, expectations, and priorities. Some items will be a source of negotiation. Racquel and Peter had some disagreements about how to handle some items on their lists of expectations, but eventually they developed verbal contracts with each other that they both chose to live with. More important, they learned good communication skills that enabled them to be lovingly assertive and to speak the truth in love. It sure beats “magical” mind reading!
Thought: Today, I will be honest about my needs and expectations and not expect my mate to read my mind.
Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.
The unspoken motto of many women seems to be, “Pour on the guilt and shame; I deserve it.” One of the biggest problems we face as women on the journey is getting rid of shame and false guilt. The sad truth is we often allow our loved ones to make us feel guilty and ashamed. And letting people take advantage of us is wrong.
On many Monday mornings, Marilyn would call her husband’s boss and tell him her husband, Dennis, was sick when he was really suffering from a hangover. On the few occasions when Marilyn would refuse to cover for him. Dennis would try to fill her with guilt and shame. Like Marilyn, some women allow their families and friends to bully them into taking on responsibilities that are not theirs or to accept the false shame and guilt when they don’t comply.
For our loved ones’ sake as well as our own, we must daily draw our boundaries to protect ourselves- and we should probably apologize to those we love for having taken away from them their opportunities to grow by bearing the consequences from their actions. Let’s commit our lives to asking God to help us resist manipulation, false guilt, and shame.
Thought: I will ask God today for His insight into opportunities to express my love by saying no in situations that will help others grow.