Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22, ESV)
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14, ESV)
There is safety in an abundance of counselors.... While we can't (and shouldn't) listen to everyone who would offer advice freely, most of us might agree that we have benefited from sound godly counsel. Many of us might also agree that we aren't lacking with regard to the number of people in our lives who constantly offer up their opinions and advice on how we should live. The safety of their counsel, however, depends largely upon the source of it.
The best advice I have ever received came during my Air Force career when I was in my late 20s. I had been asked to speak at a women’s ministry meeting. Our hostess was a seasoned minister who was steady, quiet, and had a deep love for God. I had spent the previous two weeks reading through and meditating on the book of Esther as my text for the event. It was my first time being asked to do something like this. The gathering consisted of 20 or so women; I was nervous and anxious. Despite that, it went well and God encouraged my heart in the process. Our hostess approached me following the event with a simple word of counsel and encouragement: “Stay close to Him.”
She kept her explanation simple and didn’t embellish, yet, I knew her words were important and intentional in that moment. Since then, I have held those words close to my heart. To this day, I consider it the best counsel I’ve ever received. They are words that steady me when busyness, distractions, and anxiety attempt to trump the peace in my life. They are the trumpet that refocuses me when my own selfishness, self-centeredness, and personal agenda cause me to wander away from the path to which God has called me.
It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. (Hebrews 2:1, MSG)
The word drift in Hebrews 2:1 is the Greek word parrero. According to the Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, it is the only use of the word in the Bible. It means to float or drift away as a river. The figurative use indicates a slipping away, which suggests a gradual and almost unnoticed movement past a certain point. The writer of Hebrews is warning us to pay close attention to the truths we know in order to avoid this drifting away. The implication is that we have a responsibility to attend to what we have learned and stay the course.
Issues of life will always get in the way…. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing when she made the decision to sit at His feet versus run about making preparations here and there. There will always be a myriad of choices before us which seek to usurp the place of the better thing. The better thing will always be whatever it takes to remain close to Him.
I confess that most days find me smacking around the Mini–Martha in me. I’m a doer by personality. I can be pretty “all over the place” if I’m not careful. I have to be intentional about narrowing my focus to the task at hand and following through to get things done. I do get a lot done, but I have to work hard at it. It takes a tremendous effort to keep Mini-Martha still especially at the beginning of my day––the time I most enjoy personal devotions. Again, it is at those times I hear “stay close to Him.” The words call me to a more consistent devotional life. They remind me to be intentional about prayer. They remind me of the value of fellowship with other believers. They remind me of what is most important even when circumstances, fires and crises would argue otherwise.
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27, ESV)
The apostle Paul clearly understood the need to make his own will bow in subjection to our heavenly Father’s will. He knew discipline was necessary to, consistently, live a victorious life in the presence of God. However, even that discipline must be motivated by our love for and devotion to God.
Staying close to Him is not my natural propensity. I suspect that is the reason it has become such an important insight in my life. It is a reminder that I am prone to wander. I am prone to pursue my own agenda. I am prone to think I do not need Him and that I have a handle on everything. In short, I am prone to think I can do all things for me, through me, and by me. That propensity speaks to the greatness of my need for Christ. It is a perfect example of how necessary it is for the blood of Christ to atone for my sin and for me to be refined by the fire of His presence. It is the reason that I endeavor to stay close to Him….
Stay close to Him. Live beautiful.