The Great Instructor
Briefing: Have you ever heard the saying, “you can’t see the forest for the trees”? Sometimes it is hard to see the big picture when you are busy doing your day to day life.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read Psalm 25.
On the Street: Early in my career I got into a car chase with a stolen car. The vehicle was occupied by a couple of teenagers. I chased them to a wooded area where they bailed out of the car and ran. I jumped out and began chasing the driver into the wooded area. It was not long before I realized I had never been in these woods before and I was completely lost. Luckily, there was a great light in the sky that showed me the way out, Dallas PD Air 1.
Looking back on my career in law enforcement, there was a time when I was spiritually lost. I had no spiritual direction and was not in a hurry to find one. I was lost in the woods but I thought it was ok, if I wandered around long enough I would find my way out. The problem with walking around in the woods not knowing where you are or where you are going is that there are evil monsters in the woods. Genesis 4:7 says, “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” And in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
In the book, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan he writes about a man who is on a journey. There is a path that will take him to where he needs to go but the problem is we don’t always stay on the path. In this Psalm, David also advises us to keep to the path.
In verses 1 and 2 David gives us the secret to keeping on the path, “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.” When we trust in God we are not lost but found. Luke 15:32 says, “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Jumping to verses 4 and 5 David says, “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.” David makes a point to call God his Savior. God has saved us from going astray and off the path.
As an adult I can look back on my life as a youth and see the places I jumped off the path and ran away from discipline, truth, and God. Luckily God knows this about us and our nature so He has prepared. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” The key to this truth is starting children out in the Word of God. Start them on the path early to protect them.
Verse 7 says, “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.” There is something in the way God made us that allows us to get wiser as we get older. In law enforcement, we call it our training and experience. It is no different in the Christian life. God grants us wisdom through our trials. If we live long enough we will come back to Him.
Verse 8 shows us that even in our rebellion, God is still calling us back to the path of righteousness and truth, “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.”
I like to think of it this way: I am in the forest running forward, I can’t see more than a couple of feet in front of me, much like the account I gave at the beginning of this devotional. In my limited view of what is in front of me I cannot see the cliff I am about to run off. The helicopter overhead, with the birds-eye view sees where I am, the direction I am going and the cliff that lies ahead. They are able to communicate with me and warn me of the danger ahead. God is far greater than any helicopter but sometimes operates in a similar way. He warns us of danger, puts things in our path to block us and tries to make us look up at Him. Verses 11-12 say, “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.” If we will stop and choose Him, just look up and cry out and acknowledge you are lost, He will lead you back to the path of truth.
When we get back to the path and work to stay on it we start to receive His blessings. Verses 13 and 14 say, “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.” Unfortunately, we are not all in this good place of being on the path.
Have you ever gotten a squad car stuck in the mud? Most guys I work with all admit at some time or another they have driven off the path to check something out and have gotten stuck. I know I have gotten at least three squad cars stuck in the mud. Take a moment to read the entire Psalm again, concentrating on verses 15-20. Life is full of opportunities to get off the road. It looks so fun and appealing until you get caught up in the filth and junk. God will pull you out of the junk you are stuck in. This is the main point of the Psalm. Make your way back to the path, no matter what it takes.
David finishes looking forward to a place where we have found our way back to the path of truth, God’s path. Verse 21 says, “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.”
Investigational Resources: I highly suggest reading the classic, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. It is a great read about the path we should all be on towards life in Jesus.
Officer Safety Principle: Are you spiritually lost? Are you ashamed of Jesus Christ? Make your way back to the path of truth where God is waiting for you. He wants to bring you into the fold of His family.
from Psalms Through the Eyes of a Cop, Volume 1
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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