A few years ago I started reading this devotional book called "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. I read it daily for a couple years, but recently I have become less and less diligent about it. The structure of my time spent in the Word has changed over the past year, due to my current season of life. Now I only read it randomly, but the random times that I do, it never fails to stir my soul. And yesterday was no exception.
The author capitalizes the words "I" "Me" and "My" throughout the devotion as if the Lord were speaking specifically to you. This makes it much more personal when reading. At the bottom of every day she lists the verses that the devotion was inspired from (which are also represented in the italics phrases). I have an ESV study Bible, so when I would look up the verses and read the notes at the bottom, it would often direct me to other places in scripture where the Lord emphasized the same truths. Both of the verses that were listen at the bottom of yesterdays devotion were good reminders, but the scripture that I was subsequently lead to was a great one.
Whenever I read a verse that seems to hit my heart like an axe to an avocado (no idea where that came from but I'm just gonna go with it..) I usually look it up in other translations. This one I especially like in the Message version.
When I read this it seemed perfectly pertaining to the part of this devotion that struck me the hardest. I italicized the word "compare" when I typed out the verse because I think that that is at the root what this devotion is illustrating.
In the beginning when it says "You are on the right path," to the end when it says "Follow Me," I kept asking myself what would distract me from following the Lord on the right path that He has set out for me (the "creative best"). Answer, comparison.
Comparison can take many forms. I think a large part of this issue is derived from society and cultural norms...
-Employers are constantly comparing thousands of applications
-Graduating college students are constantly comparing themselves to the experience and accomplishments of other college students who are applying for the same jobs
-Parents compare their families to other families
-Women compare their boyfriends to other relationships
-Husbands compare their wives to other women
-Athletes compare themselves to other athletes who train under different conditions, with difference coaches, and different teammates
-High schoolers compare themselves to the popularity of their friends
-Girls compare their appearances to other girls (and to computer imaging advancements)
-Boys compare their muscles to other boys (yes I said this... they do)
-Sisters compare themselves to their brothers
-Pastors compare themselves to other churches
-Politicians compare themselves to other candidates
-Governments compare themselves to other countries
In my opinion, comparison is the opposite of loyalty and the thief of joy. But if we are loyal to Christ, just as husbands should be loyal to their wives (and vise versa) this eliminates the possibility for comparison to creep in and haunt our minds into thinking that we aren't good enough, or that we aren't on the right path, and maybe we would be better off if we trailed behind on someone else's. But this is not God's design for us. He has a uniquely perfect path designed just for each of us. That's why the author of the devotion says "It is a lonely way, humanly speaking..." But God reminds us more than anything throughout Scripture that He both paving the way for us, and walking by our side with each trusting step. He is loyal to us, so we should BE LOYAL to Him.
These are a couple of my favorite quotes pertaining to the comparison thief.
"Do not expect anyone to understand fully My ways with you, any more than you can comprehend my dealings with others."
This is the part of the devotion that I needed to hear more than anything. I am in a place in my life right now where I am constantly asking the Lord about His ways with me. I do not understand them, so how can I expect others to. And how can I compare my season of "winter" to someone else's season of "spring." Just as our Creator carries out the seasons at different times in different places of the world, He will also be faithful to carry us through the dry months into a time of blooming and flourishing. We simply need to be loyal.