It’s funny how a single word in Scripture can tip the scales with the weight of a boulder, even a word as seemingly insignificant as a pronoun. Especially when you need it. The other morning I came across a familiar plea of the Psalmist’s, “Lead me in your righteousness… make your way straight before me.” I’ve prayed this a thousand times with slightly different language. Lord, I don’t know what the right thing is to do here, things are complicated, I could go either way…. make my way straight.
I’d never realized it, but David and I were one word off from one another. Did you catch it? I’d traded the word your for my inadvertently, unintentionally, not even in a selfish way, I don’t think. But what a shift in perspective I needed—for the Lord to make His way straight before me, rather than Him making my way straight. It’s a subtle but powerful difference of perspective. The picture of the Lord leading us in His righteousness and laying out His path straight before us is beautiful and freeing imagery. It reminds me that because of Christ’s grace for me I’m joining Him, I get to be on His road, I get to wear His righteousness, not the other way around.
David’s prayer also cuts through the heightened me-centered culture we’re living in. The pervasive sense that God should get on board with whatever feels like righteousness to me just by virtue of it being my personal truth. Or, if there’s a path that feels good to my heart or gut or instincts, well then certainly that must be synonymous with God’s path for me. The mantra of the day seems to be that whatever feels right to me must be right to God. But David didn’t see it that way.
With refreshing, liberating, convicting perspective the Psalmist asked God to lead him in His righteousness, to make His way straight before him. I love this because it’s antithetical to me trusting my own sense of goodness and inner compass to lead me, which has been disastrous for me to say the very least. I love this because God’s righteousness and path will never fail us. I love it because it frees us from the pressure of having to obtain an elusive sense of righteousness or having to discover a once-in-a-lifetime path that’s suited just for us.
Because of the blood of Jesus we’re invited to approach God and His Word with confidence, knowing that His goodness and holiness and righteousness are revealed and described right there for us. The pure and blessed ways He’s calling us to follow Him on aren’t confusing or mysterious but are laid out before us. This is good news, especially in a day where the discourse would lead us to believe that the lines are blurred, the only road is our own and it’s all about us.
Amidst the cacophony of voices and opinions and varying pathways, would you take some quiet, uninterrupted time today and pray this with me? “Lord, lead me in your righteousness, because there is only one righteousness and it’s yours and yours alone. Make your way straight before me, because the only path I ever want to walk on is yours and yours alone.”
What a difference a word makes.