All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. (Psalm 25:10 ESV)
In life, we will either embrace the ways and the paths of God, and in meekness submit all of strength and talents and spiritual gifts under Christ’s Lordship, or we will do as Paul did initially and “kick against the goads,” or fight His leadership like a stubborn farm animal.
The leadership of the Lord encompasses both how we do things and what we do in life. If we will keep His covenant and testimonies we will hold on to both of these matters of how and what – just one of them is not enough. The “covenant and testimonies” of God are His covenant of grace toward us and His Holy Word the Bible. In David’s day, the Mosaic Covenant was the means by which God’s grace was expressed.Today, we are in the New Covenant or New Testament and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ in faith.
The Expositor’s Bible sums this up like this:
They who accept His teaching, and order their paths as He would have them do, will learn that the impulse and meaning of all which He does to them are “mercy and truth,” the two great attributes to which the former petitions appealed, and which the humble of heart, who observe the conditions of God’s covenant which is witness of His own character and of their duty, will see gleaming with lambent light even in calamities.
A small and rather obscure devotional book, entitled Beyond Call, has been a continual blessing to me in my walk with Christ, especially since I have served most of my years overseas in cross-cultural situations. Baker James Cauthen, the long-time General Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of Southern Baptists (now the International Mission Board), compiled this book of the devotions he gave to the missionaries that they were sending out to serve around the world. They were originally commencement type addresses given at the completion of missionary orientation.
But they speak to every Christian and every servant of God. In one of these devotions, he spoke on the verse above:
The thing about this verse of Scripture that is most striking and helpful to me is the very first word with which it begins: “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.” Now, that is often hard to understand, and a little hard to believe in the gray days because not all the paths are pleasant to walk. Some paths are very difficult. It would be quite unrealistic to think that the pathways before you in missionary service will always be pleasant. The labor to which you have given yourself is labor characterized by a cross.
When you become willing to do whatever God wants you to do, even if it appears undesirable, you discover that what God has for you is much better than anything you plan…
Walking these pathways is not a matter that is in proportion to your understanding, but in proportion to your faith in him. Put your trust in him, and let him make the plans, and revise your own plans. Let him determine the bright days and the dark days; let him give the victories and the defeats, and let him shape life as he sees best. You will then discover that as you hold on to him in this covenant of faith – the pathways for you are filled with love and faithfulness.
And there is in this entire matter the issue of just being yourself, of obeying the will of the Lord for you, and not for someone else. My paths that I choose outside the will of God will not bring the love and faithfulness of God that God desires to give us. John the Baptist said, “A man can only receive that which is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). God’s will and His leadership will bring us joy and peace, the joy of a clear conscience, and the peace of knowing that we have done what God made us to do, and did it how He called us to do it.
An old story was told about a young Christian girl who was unhappy with her life. She knew the scripture that she must bear her cross, but her cross seemed too drab, too common place, and even too heavy sometimes. She longed for a better life. One night she dreamed of different crosses that she could bear.
One was made of gold and decorated with jewels, and she thought that she would like to bear that cross. But as she tried to lift it and to carry it, she found it was much heavier than she thought, and after a few steps she faltered and knew that she could not carry this one.
Then she saw another cross decorated with flowers, the cross of beauty, and again she thought that it was much better than her drab cross, so she lifted it on her back to carry. But she found that beneath the flowers were thorns that tore into her back, and the pain was much greater than she thought.
One after another, she tried other crosses with a similar result – too heavy, too rough, unfitting, not right.
Then she saw another cross and she came to it to lift it, and it fit perfectly on her back. It was her original cross that God had made for her to carry.
We should not envy the paths that God has called others to walk – paths of wealth, beauty, fame, power, talent, health, or whatever. Their crosses are for them to carry and not us. We should simply in gratitude embrace the path God has called us to walk and the cross that God has called us to bear. That is the path of peace and joy, of His love and His faithfulness.