Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the[a] paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
January is the month for new beginnings. Most people set their intentions for the year as goals or resolutions. That fresh first month of a new year seems overflowing with possibilities. As you flip through a new calendar, the blank pages celebrate that anything is possible. And we believe it every year until life actually happens. Our motivation starts to peter out. Unforseen challenges, both internal and external, get in the way. It's right about this time of year, the end of January, three to four weeks in, we give up. Do I hear an amen?
The author of Proverbs knows what it is like to get off track in life. He gives us a few hints for staying the course. First, keep your eyes fixed on the goal. If we keep our eyes and our mind fixed on our long term prize, we won't be as likely to sacrifice it for short term desires. What we fixate on is what we focus on. What we focus on, we can move toward. Whether your intention is to improve your health, your relationships, your finances, your walk with God, set a long term goal and keep it ever before you. To increase your likelihood to stay on course, make your plan specific, write it out and refer to it daily with focused intention.
We move toward our goals one small step at a time. So while that vision of the end result is important, so is each small daily step toward it. Keep your metaphoric feet pointed always to the goal. Feet, as they move forward gain momentum and to step to the rigth or the left without correction, eventially takes you far from the path. If your feet turn away for your intended direction, notice what is happening, and gently direct them back to the path when you slip, diverge your step or just stop moving forward.
"Do not turn to the right or the left, keep your foot from evil." Evil seems like such a strong word for goals doesn't it? I believe the author of Proverbs was talking about the goal of living a God-honoring life. A Christian's goal, whether it be to improve a relationship, organize time better, start a business, take better care of one's health, should, at the core, be honoring to God. Recognize that getting off track may not be evil, but keep in mind that evil is the work of our enemy, the one who usually always starts with small innocent sounding temptations. Just this once..... eat the cookie, Just this once....watch tv, instead of work on your business goal. Just this once...go to bed angry. This is not about bashing mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn and we grow. Developing compassion toward our humaness is necessary to staying the course. Perfectionism is a cruel taskmaster for those who choose to submit to it's standards. But, I think the one who whispers temptations is all for our defeat and knows that if we give in, we are more likely to do it again, we are also more likely to shame ourselves and give up. We are more likely to lose our hope. So when you turn away from your intended direction, recognize those tactics of your enemy and refuse to give in to shame, hopelessness and any self defeating behavior, give yourself grace, look at where your feet are pointed and get them back on the path.
If you started off the month with great intentions and loads of energy and you are already feeling like you've blown it, you have not. Do not be defeated. Fix your gaze ahead of you, find your focus, point your feet forward and continue your journey.
This has been part of the five minute fridays writing challenge. Writers write for five minutes on a word prompt. Today's was fix. ( I tend to turn my writing for this challenge into a devotion based on scripture.) You can join and follow writers at FiveMinuteFriday writing community