I stumble often, and I don’t mean just spiritually. I’ve fallen out of a plane (not kidding), skated across a parking lot on a hidden patch of snirt (snow and dirt), tumbled out of my seat at the Indianapolis airport (an unscheduled flight), and launched myself into our neighbor’s compost heap (ewww).
Lately I’m learning to place my steps with care. God invites us to do the same—and offers a surprise ending.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:26
Give careful thought…
People seldom “ponder” (ESV) anymore. It sounds so last century, so…well, ponderous. Slow. Old fashioned. Yet God is calling us to “consider well” (AMP) before we act. To “plan carefully” (GNT), rather than rush into things.
Me? I over-plan, over-ponder. I spend too much time making lists, and not enough time doing what’s on them. The old English proverb, “Haste makes waste, and waste makes want,” sums up my slow-roll style.
How can under-planners and over-planners find a good balance? The Hebrew helps answer that. Palas means “to make level.” After all, a “straight” (DRA) path from A to B might be kind of boring, but a “level” (ASV) path with a firm foundation makes us less likely to trip or fall by the wayside.
Good thing, because the Lord is the one who designed our paths, and he always includes a few curves and bends to keep life interesting.
…to the paths for your feet…
The Hebrew word magal means a “track” or “entrenchment,” specifically, a circle dug around the camps of those who lived in the Ancient Near East. Staying inside that track kept people out of danger and “on the safe path” (NLT).
That’s what God wants for our spiritual walk—boundaries. His counsel to “know where you are headed” (CEV) and “make sure you are going the right way” (ERV) has more to do with following his Word than with looking for directions on MapQuest.
For most of my young life, I thought the Bible was an antiquated book of rules, an endless list of dos and don’ts. Only after I’d strayed far beyond the bounds of common sense and God’s wisdom did I finally understand that his path was the best path for me. It was “the straight path, the way of truth” (VOICE), and the only path that leads to peace in him, now and forever.
My testimony in a sentence? “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2).
Thank you, Lord, again, always.
…and be steadfast in all your ways.
Here’s that surprise ending I promised. When you follow God, putting one foot in front of the other, you never have to worry about where you’re going, or who’s going to keep the path cleared of debris, or how long the journey is going to take.
That means you don’t have to try to be steadfast—you are steadfast. You’re “secure” (CEB) and “established” (NASB) by the Lord, standing on “solid ground” (CEV). It’s not a doing thing, it’s a being thing.
Our job is not to look at our feet, but to look at God.
Our footing is made “firm”—kun, in Hebrew—through his strength alone. He built your path according to his perfect design. He charts the path, he walks the path, he is the path.
The Hebrew adds al natah—“not stretched, spread out, extended, inclined, bent, or turned”—as a reminder of what walking with God looks like. The road will “stretch out smooth before you” (MSG). No cracks in the pavement, no potholes, no speed bumps. Just the absolute certainty that “you will safely reach the end of your road” (VOICE).
His promises are true, and his Word can be trusted. “Nothing will make you fall” (ERV), beloved. Nothing.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways. Proverbs 4:26
Now it’s your turn
- How does this proverb help you? challenge you? encourage you?
Share your thoughts via Post a Comment below. Whatever you’re learning from the Lord, we’d love to benefit from it as well.
Here’s your Printable of Proverbs 4:26 (allow just a moment for it to download). You’ll also find this week’s verse paired with a tree-lined path on Pinterest.
Next Wednesday, we’ll explore one of our favorite subjects, and a perfect fit for Lent: hope.
Your sister, Liz
P.S. As we celebrate Ash Wednesday here at the Higgs house, we’re also preparing for the release of Mercy Like Sunlight, my contemporary, fictional take on Mary Magdalene’s biblical story. This novella originally appeared as the opening half of my nonfiction book Mad Mary, later titled Unveiling Mary Magdalene. Now Mary Margaret Delaney’s journey of redemption has been set free as a stand-alone eBook for just $3.99. So grateful to have this available for my fiction readers. You can pre-order Mercy Like Sunlight now for your Kindle, Nook, and other eReader devices. Thanks for letting me share our news with you, even as we enter a season of quiet preparation, longing to hear again Mary’s words of assurance, “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).
“Liz captures the heart and circumstances of a woman of Magdala and brings her into the twenty-first century…captivating us with Mary’s story.”
—Kay Arthur, author of Lord, Give Me a Heart for You
“I love Liz’s work! Her insights are fresh and exciting and will draw readers back into the Word.”
—Francine Rivers, best-selling author of Redeeming Love
“Our job is not to look at our feet, but to look at God.” That is the phrase that really stuck out to me this morning. God is continually speaking to me about how much time I spend discontent with my life, because I am focusing on others’ lives and not on Him. My prayer is to just focus on Him today, for just today. It really has to be a day at a time. Thank you for your thoughts.
Wow. Love this verse! Seeing the beautiful pictures of the different paths, I thought about Robert Frost (“The Road Not Taken”) and wondered if maybe he spent some time with this verse. Giving careful thought to the paths I take means slowing down and letting God prepare my way, not jumping out on my own. (Been there, done that, not a good idea) Remaining steadfast? Thanks for the reminder that He has already given me that character, enabling me to go the distance with Him. The being always comes before the doing. And at the end of the journey, I know that I will be able to say that walking with God, “that has made all the difference.”
As my husband and I face a bit of a crossroad regarding a possible move… and as I seek the Lord for the next steps in my ministry.. the really spoke to me. Funny how the Lord allows you to see the same phrase multiple times in a short span of time in order to get through to you. “It’s not a doing thing… it’s a being thing”… appeared in my quiet time yesterday as well. As an over-planner, this speaks volumes to me. Thank you Liz. May you reap far above and beyond all of the time effort and love uou sow into your readers. ♥
I like to design my own path but know when I do I will stumble miserably. It’s only when I keep my eyes fastened on God and MOVE on the path He designed for ME that I am secure in my walk. A key word for me is move. I too am a over-planner … and second-guesser.
This is a comforting verse, Liz, and another one you shared well.
Many times I have traveled ” my own road” and have found more potholes than I can count. It was only when I submitted to God, following His paths, that I found peace and the certainty that I was traveling the “right Way”!
More and more God is showing me that the best way I can serve Him, the best way do be where He wants me to be, is to spend time with Him. The more time I spend with Him, the more I understand that IS where He wants me to be- and every now and then I look around and see He can work through me in ways I never imagined- but it is all Him, and not me. My favorite part: “He built your path according to his perfect design. He charts the path, he walks the path, he is the path.” Thank you Liz.
Liz, this verse spoke to my heart this morning. I have been troubled in my spirit because of some dear brothers and sisters in Christ who are, in my opinion, becoming lax in some of their beliefs. It seems our whole country is on a slippery slope and is sliding backwards! I DO NOT want to go along with it! God’s word encourages us to stay steadfast! Thank you so much for the encouragement that I needed today!! God bless you, Liz!
Thank you for this post on proverb it sure encourages me.God Bless!
How I needed God’s word today. I am on a path now that I don’t understand and one that frightens me. I see my husband’s memory fading and a son that believes his problems are too big for God to handle. I see rocks, cracks and potholes all ahead of me. Of course, that is when I look down and try to go the way I want to go. I am trusting God to hold my hand and to lead me in His path that is straight and safe. The way of peace. God bless you, Liz. How I love your encouragement. I thank God that He is not giving up on me but continues to be there and love me.
When I was a kid, my dad called me pumpkin head because I was constantly tripping over something. I don’t know why he chose pumpkin head but it stuck. This verse brings to mind all the earthly and spiritual pumpkin head moments. And all the bruises and scraped knees that go along with those moments. Lord, please take my hand and guide me. Thank you Lord and thank you Liz for this study.
Thanks, again, Liz! I love that I keep learning that this life is not about me rushing around and trying to achieve this or that … but strolling, with my Father in the lead, as I “be” not “do” — Reiterated the idea again, I am a human being, not a human doing — and I have a Leader who is a faithful Guide. Good to remember. Thank you!
So reminded of Peter who was doing a great job of walking on the water until he took His eyes off Jesus. Don’t know that I’ve ever paid much attention to this verse, but it is cemented in my head now. Great reminder this mid-week. Blessings, Liz!
What a great example Gwen.
I have not always given careful thought to God’s path for me. I wondered off and I got lost but God brought me back to his pathway. For this I am so grateful.
The path behind me, the path I walk, and the path beyond. Sometime we have to just stop and listen and sometime we have to talk to ourselves ! yes talk to ourselves, it is amazing how the Lord will work with you and show you what path to take. Glory !!!
Lived in that cold, slippery walled, black pit for so long. Loneliest place on earth. Thank you Jesus for lifting me out. I do not fear the path I walk now, though I do misstep at times. The Shepherd herds me back onto the safe path, always watching and vigilant in my care. I is such a privilege to belong to Him.
I walk with a cane now and tend to look at my feet and the path in front of them so I do not fall. Consequently, i tend to walk into walls, people, doors, well you get the idea. There is balance in examining your path and looking up. Though I need to look quickly at the ground in front of me, it is essential that I look upward to God and let Him lead and navigate my course or I will continue to walk into doors. And doggone it, it hurts to keep banging your head!
Looking down too often these days and I needed this reminder to trust the path the Lord has designed specifically for me and for my loved ones. My dear husband, who has survived cancer twice, and sepsis in 2013, now faces another physical challenge –blood clots in the veins of his neck and chest. Intervention may not be possible and I fear the surgery, if it is possible, to help him, and the possibility that surgery cannot be done. He has had these challenges since he was 17 years old. We are weary and the path seems too hard, but we must trust that it the best one for us. Thank you for your encouraging devotionals that help us keep our eyes on Jesus.
Well, for the past 5-6 months I have been limping along ( physically ). The other day my husband and I stopped to get coffee and I was having a good day. I insisted I wanted to go in to get the coffee because I felt good. So I go bouncing, limping in, get our coffee, and of course greeting everyone (because that’s who I am). As I approached the door to leave this real cute sweet young man opened the door for me, I was so blessed I looked him in the eyes and said “how nice of you! And than I fell out the door!!! The coffee went flying and everyone flew out of the way. This young man was in shock and his friend came running from his car to help. They got me back up on my feet, i wasnt hurt just embarrassed,the manager got me two new cups of coffee and I went to our car. I opened the door to see my husband txting. I looked at him and said “did u see that?” He looked at me and said “see what?” I started to laugh so hard and just said “never mind”. So moral of my story – keep your eyes on your path never look away not even for a moment. If your looking at the path you may stumble but you can be put right back on the right path.
“He built your path according to his perfect design. He charts the path, he walks the path, he is the path.” Much to think about in this truth alone.Thanks for sharing your gift with all of us. Liz, and the great encouragement provided in this place!
Liz, I so love this Proverb and your beautiful pictures of pathways. And I love the word “ponder” which is something I need to do more, before I jump into my own great ideas. Even when the thing is “good,” sometimes it is not God’s best plan for us. As old as I am, I should know better. Time for me to be a woman of God, instead of a “child” of God! lol
Anyway, thank you for this, Liz, and I will hide it in my heart!
A chapter in my life has closed and now I find myself making some tough decisions on where to live, where to go, here or there. So this is a word aptly spoken for me. I will let God direct my paths. I know no other way that I can trust. I will be steadfast in all my ways. I will go the paths that God has for me.
My first chance to read this Proverb and your devotional too go along with it was this morning. What a beautiful reminder as the past few days my husband and I have seen a few “bumps” in the road. He experienced a pulmonary embolism and has landed in the hospital. a nodule in his lung was also discovered, so we await a biopsy of that on Tuesday. Though these bumps have caught us by surprise, it is comforting to know that God “charts the path, He is the path.” Thanks for another treasure from Scripture to hold on to during these uncertain days.
“When you follow God, putting one foot in front of the other, you never have to worry about where you’re going, or who’s going to keep the path cleared of debris, or how long the journey is going to take.” I love that we can give careful thought, but that doesn’t mean we worry about where we’re going, etc. I tend to give plenty of thought about asking God where we’re going, but then I can jump in and start peddling the car. Working too hard at something that God has handled. I also LOVE your photos. I take a lot of path pics too. 🙂
This one hits his one hits home, and is such a wonderful encouragement. I’ve read and re-read this post over the past two weeks, just letting it simmer and soak in. And just like God loves me enough to have this verse show up in the line-up just when I needed it, he loves me enough to have this song show up during worship on Sunday:
“A thousand times I’ve failed, still your mercy remains. And should I stumble again, still I’m caught in your grace….Your will above all else, my purpose remains. The art of losing myself in bringing you praise…To love you from the inside out.”
I want to be graceful and sure and always do the right thing. When I stumble, I feel disappointed, embarrassed, and dumb. But who am I trying to impress? God knows the depths of my heart and all my secrets. The ones I treasure with joy, and the ones I would rather not own up to…anytime…ever. But they’re not secret to him. And his mercy remains. When I stumble: 1) He’s not surprised because he knows (and designed) the path and 2) I’m caught in his steadfast loving arms.
As this Proverb implies, sometimes stumbles happen because I’m being careless. And inevitably, after a stumble or a wobble, it’s my natural tendency to take a moment to reset and regain my balance and composure. To bring my awareness back to the path or the task at hand. Maybe even glance over (or up) to get a reassuring glance before moving forward once again.
This insight rings through all the pain and embarrassment: “You don’t have to try to be steadfast—you are steadfast.”
For this, I am so profoundly grateful. (I’ll try to give careful thought to my path just the same.)
Your line about not doing ,but being really spoke to me. I spend a lot my time DOING things hoping I’m getting it right instead of BEING, talking to the Lord and letting him deal with it, while I look forward. I worry a lot so this is definitely a better road than worry!! Bless you Liz