They sound like the words of a drill sergeant to new recruits, or a camp counselor to the entry level campers at Camp Wanahokalooge. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”
These are actually God’s words to us. Words of promised protection (“watch over”). Words of guidance and growth (“instruct and teach”).
Sergeants and camp counselors have one goal: keeping their assignees safe as they progress from level A to level B and even beyond. Safe and successful improvement.
God’s goal for you is the same; he continues, “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” Pre-schoolers need more rules than college seniors. Pre-schoolers must be controlled in areas where college seniors have more freedom. Either way, school administrators have the best interests of the student in mind.
Sometimes God will treat us like pre-schoolers. He’ll leverage more control, offer fewer freedoms, and set up protection against, well, ourselves. He treats us like pre-schoolers because we are behaving like pre-schoolers. It’s part of him watching over us, with our best interests in mind.
Think back to Jonah, for example, who whined like a 3-year-old so God took control and then Jonah ended up saving a city like a super hero.
That’s where God wants to take you, to improving and developing into a maturing follower of Christ. The secret? God continues, “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him” (Psalm 32:8-10).
God’s love is unfailing. He doesn’t take it back when we mess up. His unfailing love doesn’t run out when we need it again and then again. There aren’t applications to fill out and only qualified people receive it. It is unfailing, and it surrounds us.
Wherever you turn, whatever you do, God’s love is there. So take that leap of faith and trust him. Like a pre-schooler.
PRAYER: Surround me, God, as you promise. To my right and left, inside and out, up and down love me so that I shape my decisions and my life around you more. Thank you for wanting to instruct and improve me. Help me to learn. Open my heart and mind to your wisdom and ways. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read Psalm 32. To truly grow in your faith, what are some important spiritual practices?