Recently I have been considering what it means to be righteous and how that should be manifested in my own life. I can’t say there was an epiphany moment where I woke up one morning and decided that I should pursue righteousness, but rather it has been a long, winding road and for a long time I have been struggling with the trepidation of what lies beyond the bend. I still get anxious, but it’s getting better as I realize that whatever God has in store for me is so much better than anything I could plan for myself.
Whenever I travel anywhere, I enjoy the trip as much as the destination. When driving, my husband and I will often take the back roads because the view is better and the opportunity for unexpected and, usually pleasant, surprises is so much greater. Of course, we are looking forward to reaching our destination, but we are open to the opportunities that present themselves as part of the journey.
I wish I could view my own journey through life with as much excitement as I do a road trip with my family. Instead of focusing on how I want to be someday, or what I will achieve someday, I want to focus on the everyday journey. As I ponder my own journey toward righteousness, I realize that being righteous is a journey, not an achievement. I might not ever get there, but every day I need to choose to make choices that reflect my journey. I want to view the twists and turns of my life journey with joy and thanksgiving and a righteous spirit rather than trepidation.
Psalm 91:1-2 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” I need this reminder on most days. In fact, I have these verses written on a picture that hangs in my bedroom. I have taken comfort from them for years. God is my refuge. He is my fortress. Why am I afraid? I have discovered that I’m usually afraid because I have forgotten to follow the path He has set before me and I have started off on my own journey to nowhere.
Only God can make me righteous, but I need to choose to follow the right paths, to make the right decisions to lead a righteous life. There are times when I find the choices I need to make downright scary. I am at a point in my life where I now know that many of the choices I have made in my recent past were not God’s chosen path for my life. In fact, I’m pretty sure I got right off the road which He set me upon and went down a side road to nowhere. It was a dead end.
I work full time as a teacher and for the past several years I have been pursuing the goal of becoming an administrator. Recently I have stepped back from this pursuit because I firmly believe that it is not where God wants me and, in all honesty, although it felt right at the time, I believe it is a road that God never intended me to travel. Getting to this point has been hard for me. I have been on this journey for about six years and I have enjoyed it. I’m a good leader and I like to be in charge. I think this has been the hardest part of letting this journey go – I like to be in charge. But I’m not in charge. God is, and when I let go of being in charge I now feel at peace.
There is nothing wrong with being an administrator. There is nothing wrong with being a good leader and taking charge when it is called for, but it was the wrong choice for me and I regret it. I regret the time it took from me – time better spent with my family and pursuing my role as pastor’s wife. I wanted to be an administrator very badly and things actually went very well on that front for quite a while. Every once in a while I would feel uncomfortable with the decisions I was making, but God let me go down that dead end road. You see, I discovered that just because something is going well does not mean that it is God’s will for me. Sometimes we get so tied up in society’s expectations and our own desires that we forget to pursue righteousness and that was exactly what I had done.
Psalm 92:12-14 talks about righteousness and what the life of a righteous person will look like. It says, “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,”
I wasn’t growing, I wasn’t bearing fruit. I felt like nothing more than a fraud walking into church each Sunday. Of course, I loved the Lord. Of course I had asked Jesus into my heart, but something was missing. I was so caught up in pursuing my own goals for my life that I could not see that I had nothing left to give to anything or anyone else. And God let me go on down my own road, getting further and further away from His will, until, over a short period of time, it all ended. I realized I would not end up being an administrator. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness (probably brought on by the stress I had put on myself to achieve for the past several years), and I deeply regretted all that I had lost by not pursuing righteousness in my life.
I have discovered that I can only have one destination on my journey and that needs to be the pursuit of righteousness. When I pursue God, when I focus on being like Him, being righteous, my journey becomes joyful again. I am reminded that God has called me to be faithful. He knows what I need and He knows how I can best serve Him. I no longer need to view the twists and turns of life’s journey when I am abiding in the shadow of the Almighty.
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