Psalm 25: Two Roads Diverged in the Woods...and I Took the Wrong One and Got Lost
In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!
Have you ever been lost?
2017 was the first year our conference put on a junior high Winter Camp. I was an intern at my old church and we were going...but there was a problem. The Thursday before we left, I was taking finals at San Francisco State. After class I had to take BART back to my car, drive to my apartment to pack, catch an Uber, get on a plane, and fly to San Diego for my brother's graduation from boot camp. After his ceremony, I was dropped off at the airport and flew from San Diego to Sacramento to get picked up by another of our leaders to get taken to Winter Camp Friday night. Talk about a crazy couple of days!
The leader and I were driving to Winter Camp at the old location high up in the mountains. Our phones and GPS did not work. All we had was a paper map and some very confusing directions as we drove a narrow and windy road.
We finally get to a fork in the road.
Left or Right? I'm pretty sure the map says left. She thinks it's right.
We go left.
A few minutes later, we are out of the car pushing her Prius out of the snow it got stuck in.
We went the wrong way.
We ended up driving back and going the right way. It worked out. But I got us pretty lost. I'm someone who doesn't freak out easily, but the leader I was with was pretty stressed out. It was pretty stressful.
Everyday we are faced with thousands of choices. Some of them don't matter, like what shirt should I wear? What should I have for breakfast?
Later in life, we're faced with big choices like where you want to go to college, what you want to study, who you want to marry, etc. Those are times when we need to pray for wisdom to make the best choice.
But everyday we are faced with decisions of right or wrong. Should I say something nasty to my sibling because they're being annoying? Should I do my chores like my parents told me, or sit here playing video games. Should I make fun of that weird kid in my class because my friend is? These are decisions that God has revealed clear and obvious "right answers" to, and we can choose to follow them or not.
The Psalmist knows that God knows what is right and wrong because...well...God invented what is right. The Psalmist says:
Show me your ways,
Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
The Psalmist goes to God and asks Him to teach them how to do the right thing. Later he says:
...he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
God know what is right. So how does He help and guide us into doing those right things?God gives us Christians three huge things:
God gives us His Word. AKA the Bible. Paul writes in 2 Timothy "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." That's a fancy way of saying the Bible teaches us what to do. What we need to do is summarized in Jesus' commandments to Love God and Love others.
God gives us Himself. AKA the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes our lives. He's the one who makes us more like Jesus. While our instinct as humans is to do bad stuff and whatever we want, the Holy Spirit changes our desires. Paul writes in Galatians that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." You'll start having more of these characteristics when you follow Jesus
God gives us Community. AKA Your PEEPS. When we're in Christian community, it is easier for us to choose what is right. Doing the right thing isn't always easy, but as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, "encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
I got us pretty lost in the woods on the way to Winter Camp. The reason? I didn't understand the map. Let's look at the map (the Bible) with a guide (the Holy Spirit) in community (others) and it will be easier for us to follow God's commands of how to live well.