Focus: An open mind
Proverbs 21:21 (NIV) Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
I can’t imagine anyone purposely setting out to destroy their life and the lives of those around them. People don’t normally have those kind of intentions—yet it happens. Some of us have been the ones who caused others pain, and some of us have been a casualty in the wake of another person’s path of destruction.
It was a long time before I really understood the importance of having true, guiding principles to live by. I had no real grasp of the fact that ‘certain actions created certain results.’ I had a lot of hopes and expectations, but wasn’t on a path that led to ‘life, prosperity, and honor’. Not at all.
When I was young, I wrote a little verse that said, “I’m from yesterday, here today, and on my way to tomorrow. Trying hard to live. Trying to make my life what I dreamed it would be.” Truthfully, I didn’t have the slightest idea what it was I was looking for. What I ‘dreamed’ of, was a vague idea of happiness, but I didn’t possess a formula of any kind for finding it.
During that same period of my life, I wrote, “Confusion in my troubled mind, problems I can’t leave behind, good impressions I can’t make, being lonely I can’t take. In search of perfection, I find defection, always desiring a brighter gleam, dazzled by a perfect dream. Missing my goals by a tiny margin, up that mountain I keep on chargin’, I wonder if I’ll ever find the love I need to ease my mind.”
It’s easy to see that happiness and love were on my mind. I had the desire for a ‘good life’…I just lacked the willingness to follow what had been presented to me consistently throughout my life. I thought I had to blaze my own trail.
I can look back now and see the turning point so clearly. It’s not like a big bright light suddenly appeared and I knew what to do. I had searched hard…and it seems cliché to say, ‘in all the wrong places’, but it’s the truth. Yet what made the difference was not suddenly having all the answers to life, but coming to the realization that I needed help from God if I was ever going to find any kind of true happiness. Again, the key words are: needed help and God.
As time has passed and I’ve heard the stories of others—I know that what happened to me wasn’t so unusual. In fact, many people have gone through the same process I did. Mine was a path of heartbreak. It didn’t have to be—but it was. I still don’t know how I could have stopped myself, given the determined, stubbornness of my character. I was a wild horse that needed to be broken.
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There are many things I wish I could go back and change. Many wrongs I would make right if I could. I still have regret for all the pain I caused. It’s something I would gladly wipe away, if it were that easy.
When I was young, I thought I was just way too smart to have to read directions for anything. I would look at something that required assembly and I seemed to have a sense for knowing how to put it together—so why should I take the time to read instructions? Things like that gave me a false sense of confidence in myself. I didn’t think I needed to have anybody tell me how to live or what to do. I was pretty sure I could do it on my own. I never asked for advice and I hardly ever followed the advice that anyone might have tried to give me. Are you relating to any of this?
No wonder I didn’t give the Word of God the place of priority it should have had in my plans as a young adult. The idea of studying the Bible seemed a lot like ‘reading the directions’…and I just didn’t think I needed to do that. I was convinced that righteousness was ‘bondage’, and I wanted to be ‘free’. Wow, what a mixed up philosophy. I can see it now—but I sure couldn’t then.
I live much differently these days. Not that I’ve got it all put together, even now. But, I think in general, I have much more respect for the ‘results’ that certain actions, most certainly create. I have a much higher regard for the importance of investing my time in the pursuit of God—who is the epitome of righteousness and love.
I’ve learned that there are two core qualities that lead to success in this life. Those qualities are righteousness and love. If God is the source of righteousness and love—then I need to pursue God to develop the qualities that will lead to a happy life. An ‘open mind’ was what I thought I had when I was younger. I was open to everything but God. Until I became open to God, things just kept going wrong for me. When I became open to God…things started going right.
Declaration: I will find new strength by purposely opening my mind to God. I will find happiness by pursuing love and righteousness…with God as my source. I will read the directions given in the Bible, and follow them.
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