…show me Your way, Lord, and lead me on a level path.
Ps. 27:11b (HCSB) Davidic Psalm
When I think of a level path, I think of a path that is easy to maintain one’s balance on. The opposite of a level path would be one that is on an incline; like walking on a path along the side of a steep mountain, constantly trying to keep balance and fighting the forces of gravity trying to pull you off the path. I think David was asking God show him how He (God) would have him to live his life, and for God to bring calm and balance into his life.
If you are like me, you may find that you are prone to an imbalanced life. Let me give you a few examples to illustrate what I mean by an imbalanced life. Someone wrongs you, and you have the desire, the fantasy, of not only paying them back for what they have done, but paying them back double or triple the retribution they actually deserve. Someone criticizes your appearance, so you become obsessed with their comments, replaying them in your mind for the rest of the day. Someone criticizes your work performance, and you feel like giving up altogether because after all, no one is recognizing all your hard work.
We can become imbalanced when it comes to spiritual things as well. Here is one way it can happen. We typically resist the ministry of the Holy Spirit leading us to repentance at first. When we cease resisting and come to faith in Christ, we experience spiritual regeneration, through which we are given the desire to please God. We experience spiritual success by casting off some of the old sinful habits we had before our conversion. But we can fall into the trap of gradually setting the spiritual bar of performance higher and higher for ourselves until all the joy of our conversion is gone. The Lord wants simple faith and obedience from us. No more, and no less. It’s easy for us to go beyond the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus (2 Cor. 11:3). Peter illustrated this when Jesus was washing the disciples feet at the last supper. At first Peter did not want the Lord to wash His feet at all, then he wanted Jesus to wash not only his feet, but also his hands and his head. Jesus told him “just the feet, Peter” (my paraphrase). Our responsibility is to find out what the Lord wants from us and then do it; not go beyond it, or add anything to it.
Peter and David were men of extremes. They had great highs and great lows. They were men of passion and had a great desire to know and follow the Lord. Yet left to themselves, they were men prone to imbalance. Church history gives us many examples of men who were passionate for God, yet took that passion to unhealthy levels through severe asceticism, often ruining their own health by long periods of fasting, sleep deprivation, and isolation. We also see many examples of imbalance today in various Christian ministries that seem to only emphasize one aspect of Christian living. Some can’t seem to stop talking about money. Some only talk about believers having a positive image of themselves. Some only talk about Israel, only prophecy, only speaking in tongues, only the Holy Spirit, and on and on. All of these things are important, but over emphasizing one aspect of Christian living is to walk on an uneven path.
What does a balanced life look like?
First let me say that a balanced life comes about through the influence of the Holy Spirit, who guides us primarily through the written word of God. Following Jesus and His teaching, which comes down to us through the gospels and the epistles of the New Testament, lead us to that balanced life that David prayed for. It is a life long process; it does not happen overnight. Here are some of the indicators to give us an idea of what a balanced spiritual life looks like:
1. Our relationship with God becomes the most important relationship in our life. You might call this the first step towards internal balance.
2. Our Bible becomes the most important possession we have. We experience a spiritual hunger for reading the word of God. We seek to get to know God through reading and studying His word.
3. The importance of our relationships with other people rises to a new level. We don’t mislead or lie to others. We honor our commitments to others. We don’t take advantage of others. We strive not to hurt others by what we say.
4. The importance of our relationships and responsibilities to family members rises to a new level. We work to provide for our families. We seek to make amends in relationships we may have damaged in the past.
5. Our responsibilities in the workplace take on new importance as we reflect Christ to those around us. We bring discredit to His name when we behave poorly in the workplace.
6. We pay our bills on time and manage our financial responsibilities.
7. We take care of our bodies as they are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
8. We realize the importance of belonging to a local church. At church we grow in knowledge of the faith; we build relationships with other believers, giving and receiving encouragement from other members of the body of Christ.
God has given us a sense of what is good and right. The real danger we face is that we are prone to look the other way when the Holy Spirit shows us areas of our lives He wants to change; areas that are either sinful, or “out of balance”.
Pause to reflect: Is my relationship with God the most important relationship in my life? Do I sense that God is leading me to a level path? If not, what barriers are preventing this from happening?
Lord, by Your grace, strengthen our desire for You! Change us to love what You love, and hate what You hate. Lead us and guide us into Your way, and lead us on a level path, that our lives might reflect what it means to follow You.