THE HEART OF THE MATTER

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23 I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10)

This statement by Jeremiah is a reflection of what is at the heart of a man’s relationship with God.

First he talks about ownership; and says that man does not own his life. Come to think of it- it is only natural for man to say so; because he did not decide his birth, nor does he control the length of his life (except when man takes his own life). But man usually goes about his life with the attitude that he owns his life and all that come with it. We think that the time we have, the talents we possess and the material possessions that we own belong to us- to be used and abused as we please. We base most of our decisions in a way that is convenient to us and bring us pleasure. Our career advancement, our rights, our bank balance, our vacation time, our honor- life revolves around some of these cardinal facts. For man to come to a point where he is willing to say that his life is not his own is difficult, yet mandatory for a relationship with God to ensue.

Second he talks about leadership. Decisions are what day-to-day life is all about. And decisions are based on who leads us. We like to think that we are in control as we decide. Rarely is that true, because most people are victims of people or philosophies that imprison them. Even for one who might be in control, Jeremiah has news! You cannot be in leadership of your life and decisions if you wish to be in a relationship with God. For a child to be directed is natural, for an adult, it is not. He is used to directing his life. He has choices before him and in exercising his choices, he finds great satisfaction and pride. Yet at the heart of a relationship with God, man comes to recognize that he cannot have his own way and cannot direct his own steps.

Note, both of Jeremiah’s statements are negative facts- of what is not a reality. Elsewhere from the Bible we understand that like Jeremiah, when ‘we know’ of this reality, we also come to recognize how God becomes the centerpiece of our lives as we surrender the ownership of our lives to him. We also consciously make the mother of all choices- to let go of the decision-making prerogative or the leadership we possess and allow God to control our lives.

Is it a wise decision? It cannot be wiser to give up ownership of what we never possessed in the first place. Is it not demeaning to let someone else have the reins in our lives? Maybe it is in a way demeaning, but in one way also honorable. Because in letting God direct our steps, we are letting go to let in someone higher and infinitely more wiser than we ever can be.

 

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