“Let whoever is wise understand these things, and whoever is insightful recognize them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
I write a lot of these things. I honestly don’t always remember what I’ve written about after a few weeks. It’s always interesting to me, then, when I go to prepare a blog and discover that I’ve already written an entry on the exact same verse. The few times I’ve done that, though, I’ve written on different aspects of the verse and from a somewhat different angle. The heart is the same, but the application is situational. This is a verse I wrote on back in May. Here’s a second look at it. Thanks for reading.
I enjoy trying to do origami. Let me say that again with a bit of emphasis: I enjoy trying to do origami. The idea of it captures my interest, but I’m not very good. It’s not for a lack of effort. I’ve tried many different projects over the years. I’ve bought whole books about it. I’ve admired pictures of amazing creations. But when it comes to folding paper to make something cool, there is a certain way to do it. If you don’t do it just right, you won’t be able to do it at all. What Hosea says here suggests that following God is a little like this. Let me explain.
When I have tried an origami project in the past, especially one from a book, the instructions are usually written out in quite a bit of detail. All you have to do is follow them and you too can make the amazing pieces you see in the book. In theory. In actuality, there are always steps I can’t seem to do. I look at it from every angle I can. I undo what I’ve already done so I can make sure I did that right. Try as I might, though, I can’t do it.
This is all a little like what Hosea is talking about here. If we will follow God’s ways, our lives can be a beautiful work of art. His ways are right. There are not other ways that will result in such a thing either. There is this one path that leads to a life of beauty. If we try and make our own way, to introduce our own folds into the design, the outcome is going to be a mess.
And, His ways are spelled out for us. For Israel, they were spelled out in the Law. If that people wanted to get life right, they just needed to obey the Law. Those who were righteous could walk proudly down that path. They could follow them, step-by-step, and enjoy the fruits of a right relationship with Him.
For those who were intent on deviating from His design, however, those same laws were not going to be a boulevard of plenty, they were going to be an obstacle course with one trap after another, all intended to trip them up and slow them down. For them, God’s ways would be there to keep them from succeeding in their evil intent (which, by the way, was an act of graciousness and love on His part).
Okay, but how is that like my origami trials? I mean, I can see some of the similarities in terms of having the path laid out clearly with success being merely the result of following the instructions faithfully, but my problem with origami is not one of intent, but ability. I can’t do it right. I’ve tried. A lot. I just keep winding up failing.
Sometimes—maybe you know what I mean—I feel like my efforts to follow the path of God’s ways are like that. It feels like failure is not a matter of intent, but ability. I want to do it, but can’t ever quite get there. Does this make me rebellious? And if it does, isn’t that a little unfair. It would be like if the origami instructions were intended to trip me up, not lead me to success.
Well, the truth is that we will always manage to do what we most want to do. The problem with sin is that our wills have been corrupted. God’s ways run counter to our will. We don’t simply need good instructions, we need help following them.
Fortunately, we have exactly that in Christ. You see, God wants us to succeed. Badly. But, He understood that our success depends entirely on our willingness to depend on Him. Because of the will-corrupting power of sin, we were never going to walk in His ways on our own. Part of the reason for the Law, Paul would later tell us, was to affirm that fact.
As a result, God sent help. He sent His only Son to die for us to break the power of sin over us and Father and Son sent the Spirit to enable us to walk in His ways. What God says here through the prophet was calling us forward to the time when the righteous would indeed walk in His ways. They would walk in His ways because He would make sure they could. That’s the life we have available to us in Christ. A life of being rightly related to God and enjoying the fruits that come thereof. Let us turn ourselves over to Him and experience the life that is truly life.