Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. – Psalm 119:133 (NIV)
When I was about 10 or 11 years old, my sister and I decided to take a walk in the woods surrounding our family cabin in the western Pennsylvania mountains. We walked, all right, and walked and walked and walked – because we couldn’t find our way back to the cabin!
We must have been wandering around in circles, because I remember walking through the same meadow about three times. Finally, after what seemed like hours, we saw the outline of a building through the trees. At last! Camp! As we got closer, however, we realized that it wasn’t our cabin at all nor any of the three cabins near ours, but a rustic log building we hadn’t seen before. Where were we?
A boy about my age was chopping wood in the backyard. As we approached, he turned to leave, apparently not hearing us.
“Stop! Stop!” we cried, breaking into a run, hopping over fallen limbs and pushing through waist-high grass. “We’re lost! Stop!”
It turned out that we had wandered in the opposite direction of our cabin. Neither my sister nor I even knew what direction camp was. We just followed the way through the woods that was easiest and seemed to lead us in the direction we wanted to go. We didn’t have a compass, but it wouldn’t have done us much good because neither one of us knew how to use one.
A compass helps the traveler because its needle always points north. But before you can make use of a compass, you need to know three things: where you want to go, where you are now and what direction – north, south, east or west – to travel. Once you know that, you can set out, using the compass to keep on course.
As we travel through life, we need a compass to guide us. There are many paths we can take, some seeming to lead us in the way we want to go but, in reality, will take us in the opposite direction. God knew we needed help, so He gave us His Word. He began by writing, with His own hand, 10 simple laws that, if we follow them, will lead us to a fulfilling, satisfying life.
The Ten Commandments. Like a cross, with a vertical beam and a horizontal one, these ten rules govern all our relationships. The first four deal with our relationship with God (the vertical beam); the last six with our relationships with others (the horizontal beam).
The Ten Commandments. The subject of Hollywood movies and lawsuits. Why have they become so controversial? And how do laws established 3,450 years ago relate to us today?
Over the next ten weeks, I’m going to delve into each commandment – one per week – study it, meditate on it and explore its relevance to today’s world – and, more importantly, to me personally. I invite you to come along with me, and let the Holy Spirit be our teacher.
As we study the Decalogue, as the Ten Commandments are sometimes called, you’ll notice the suggested readings will be from Psalm 119, a psalm written as a devotional on God’s Word.
Like a compass, God’s Word points us in the direction we are to go. But we first need to find out where we are: on the narrow path that leads to life or the broad way that leads to eternal death (Matthew 7:13–14). Only then can we set our course for true north: God Himself.
“Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.” – Psalm 119:1 (NIV)
Come, Holy Spirit, be my teacher and guide as I make my way through a cluttered, loud world where there is so much to lure me away from the only path that leads to everlasting life with You. Give me wisdom to understand Your Word, the faith to believe it, and the courage to obey it. Amen.
(c) 2005 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. All images in public domain.