I recently celebrated my 60th birthday, a particularly special event for me as I celebrated it with my wife Gemma, my parents and both my sisters and their husbands. I received some precious birthday gifts from each of them. One of my sisters had compiled a scrapbook with photos from when I was a small baby right up to the present time. As I looked through those photos I experienced different emotions, as I remembered what was happening in my life at the time they were taken – some of those memories were good, but others were painful.
My smiles in some of the photos hid secret struggles in my life that no-one ever knew about. Those photos were snapshots of my life story, but as I looked through them I remembered with gratitude how, nearly thirty years ago, God in his grace and mercy reached down and rescued me from my own attempts to find my way through life, and placed my feet on the solid path He’d planned for me. In the photo record before me I could see the change in my life’s direction from that time onwards – a change from trying to write, produce and direct the story and script of my life to experiencing the hope and security of living in God’s far better one.
Our scripture verse today is a reminder and a warning that insisting on navigating our own way through life apart from God ends in death. But His encouragement to each of us is always to trust in Him with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5-6) and find that, as our Good Shepherd, He’ll lead us in paths that are straight and safe. These paths result in life, even when they take us through difficult times.
Perhaps today you’re still trying to find your own way through life, writing your own script, and finding that it always seems to end in pain. Like a film or a play that needs a director, we all need the loving hand of our Creator God to show us His purpose and plans for us. We can only find that purpose through receiving Jesus into our hearts and lives as our Lord and Saviour. As we do that, we begin to discover the amazing hope and future He has for us. We experience the miracle of Him healing the pain of the years we lived without Him. Then, as I experienced when looking through my birthday scrapbook, old photographs may bring back painful memories, but they no longer carry the sting of shame and regret they once held.
"O give him all your tears and sadness
Give him all your years of pain
And you’ll enter into life in Jesus’ name"
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times when I’ve tried to find my own way through life without You. I give myself to You today. Please lead me through all the remaining days of my life until I see You face to face in heaven. In Your name, I pray. Amen.