I didn’t see it coming.
I was coming out of one of my favorite stores heading to my car and I took a giant step off the curb thinking it was part of the parking lot.
I instantly felt like my spine had just been skewered on a shiskabob metal stick ready for the BBQ. Now I know that sounds kind of wacko, but then, I wasn’t looking when I stepped off into midair and so anything is possible.
Because of my amazing athletic move, I have been walking around like I have been mounted on a pole, moving like a statue and only as necessary and cramping over when I move too fast. It’s a sure sign of the facts.
I have a weak core physically.
I am doomed. My back doesn’t work right because my front is lazy and doesn’t want to work.
It’s my own fault, I know better and I should be doing those exercises that I’ve heard about for so many years. I didn’t listen well enough and only did them part way and now I am paying. So guess what I am doing? Trying to carefully strengthen my core as I am healing. It only took me a week to discover that my front couldn’t be lazy if I wanted a strong back. Go figure!
I don’t like to be weak. I want to be strong. But I have a part to play in keeping my core strong. It occurred to me as I have been resting my back that if my spiritual core is weak then mostly likely something is going to give out, just like my back. And if I am not careful and allow myself to get lazy spiritually, when that curb shows up unexpectantly it could disable me more than I would like. What do we do then?
I reread this week my old time favorite, Proverbs 3:1-7 and in it I find 7 ways that we can trim up our lazy spirituality and strengthen our core. Here is what it says:
My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years,and your life will be satisfying.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
and you will earn a good reputation.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Do you see the seven most important truths in these very familiar verses?
1. NEVER FORGET God’s truth, his teaching, his commands. (vs.1) Which means we need to review, retain and renew our minds continually with God’s Word. The only way we won’t forget is to actually read it constantly whenever we can. I have God’s word on 3×5 cards, quotes all over my house, my purse, my iPhone, everywhere to remind me to never, ever forget these treasures of truth that guide my life.
2. NEVER LET loyalty and faithfulness leave you. (vs.2) In some translations the word “loyalty” is love.”Tie them around your neck and write them on your heart.” In other words, we need to live by loyalty and faithfulness to God which translates to every encounter and relationship in our lives as reflecting God’s love.
3. TRUST in the Lord with ALL your heart. (vs. 5) Not some, not part, but ALL of our heart. It is tempting to give all of our heart to our spouse, a friend or even our kids and then trust them with our very lives. Proverbs says we are to give ALL of our heart to the Lord and him alone. He is the only one who can guarantee to protect and keep our heart, He will not disappoint.
4. DO NOT RELY on your OWN understanding. (vs. 5) God gives us a mind to seek truth and understanding. The key is to NOT rely solely on your own wisdom and insight. Make God the primary means of reliance for wisdom. It’s so easy to fall into becoming too independent and forget to consult God.
5. SEEK HIS WILL IN ALL YOU DO. (vs. 6). Another version says to “Think about Him in all your ways.” Let God be the number one person we consult and ask, not number two, three or seventeen. (Oh I confess, am so guilty of this!) Ask God for wisdom in all things and He promises (James 1) to deliver if we believe.
6. DON’T BE IMPRESSED with your own wisdom. (vs. 7) Pride doesn’t look good in our spiritual core because it whispers that we know enough, we don’t need anyone and we are okay the way we are. Humility is the opposite virtue and runs to acknowledge God in everything.
7. FEAR the Lord and turn away from evil. (vs. 7) In my early years as a believer I would often lose my temper. I didn’t care. I was mad and I justified my anger. I hated myself after I got angry. I felt shame and deep repentance. I learned that in the heated moment, I lost my fear of God and crossed the line and made bad decisions. Fearing God in a healthy way protects us from making bad choices with our behaviors and attitudes.
I am working to strengthen my physical core so the next time I accidentally step off a curb, the damage won’t be as severe because I will be stronger.
Next time you see a curb coming in your life, you might slip, and might even fall. But if our spiritual core is strong, we will be able to brush ourselves off, maybe have a small setback but will be able to get back up, stand strong and keep on the path that God is leading us on.
Which of these seven do you need to strengthen?