Do you like to read? If you are reading this article, reading is likely one of your hobbies. It’s definitely one of mine.
When I thought about writing this, it reminded me of a time when murder mysteries were my favorite books to read. A murder, an investigation, and especially courtroom dramas with cops, lawyers, juries, witnesses, etc...I was ALL in! For a while, I was a member of a Murder Mystery Book Club.
As a “born-again, Spirit-filled believer,” I kept things balanced by following this daily mode of operation: At home, I had an ongoing personal Bible study at a designated time and place where I read and did an outline of the Bible. I read murder mysteries at work during lunch and never during the time and place designated for prayer and Bible study. It seemed like a pretty good plan, right? I still had a relationship with the Lord, attended the church He directed us to, then belonged to a prayer group, etc.
However, without noticing, murder mysteries started occupying my thoughts and conversations more. I was even the go-to person at work for authors and book recommendations...and I liked it! I sensed imbalance in this “mode of operation,” and my time in the Word lacked the depth it once had. My life was still good on the surface, but inside, I sensed something was off. Have you ever been there? You go through your usual “mode of operation,” but inside, something is off.
Without giving this the attention I should have, I plunged into the next murder mystery book, and the plot was terrific...it was the best one I had read up to that point. I could barely put it down. So, one evening, when I usually did my Bible study, I had the murder mystery in my hand. The plot was at its peak, and I considered reading the next chapter, “just this once,” before starting the Bible study. At that moment, I heard the Holy Spirit (that still small voice on the inside) say, “You need to change your diet.” I knew exactly what He meant. I then closed that book and said aloud, “Lord, from now on, I will only read books that edify You. Tell me the kind of books to read.” Immediately, I heard on the inside, “...love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...” Galatians 5:22-23. So, I knew my next book had to be about the fruit of the Spirit.
That was a pivotal moment in my life. I started living according to Proverbs 3:6, “...in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” You might ask what it means to acknowledge God in all your ways.
To acknowledge God is to be in intimate contact with Him. The Lord showed me this picture to help me understand. It’s the difference between being in the same room with someone and only recognizing that they’re there versus being in that same room with someone but you’re seated directly next to them on a sofa, engaging one-on-one, paying no attention to all the other voices in the room.
The word “ways” in this scripture means a road, a course, or a “daily mode of operation.” We can say it this way, “Engage intimately ‘one on one’ with the Lord in everything you do throughout the day, and He will direct (or make straight) everything in it.”
When I read murder mysteries, although the Lord was in my life, I didn’t engage or acknowledge Him concerning this. Those books hindered things on the paths He was directing (or making straight) for me. When I put them away, there was a noted change in me. I heard His voice clearer in my other “modes of
operation.” He no longer had to filter through the space I gave to murder mysteries. I also see His hand clearer in making my paths straight.
So, if you sense that “something’s off” in your walk with the Lord, a good place to check is the “mode you’re operating in” or an area of your life where you have not intimately engaged or acknowledged Him. What if you don’t know what that is? No worries...just ask Him, and He’ll tell you.
I always laugh when I think about my journey to finding a book about the fruit of the Spirit. I searched Christian bookstores throughout the city and found none (there was no online shopping at the time). So I decided to read the free book about “calling for character” that I got from the Murder Mystery Book Club, and guess what it was about?...the fruit of the Spirit! Imagine that!
In the Bible studies I lead, or even when I teach, I’m never far from the topic of the fruit of the Spirit. On the day I closed the last murder mystery book I read, my life changed forever, and the paths that God made straight and is making straight are beautiful. Yes, even the difficult ones. How? In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct or make straight (which includes having provision for) your paths.