By Curtis K. Shelburne
I haven’t read from the King James Version of the Bible for years, and it’s never been my main version for preaching. As beautiful as the language can be, I’ve never thought it was good stewardship for me to take time in the pulpit to explain words that in a more modern translation are perfectly clear. So I’m surprised sometimes at how many Bible verses play back in my head in the King James Version.
Just such a verse has been running through my mind, and I finally found it: Jeremiah 10:23, King James Version — “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
I like Eugene Peterson’s rendering of that verse in his great paraphrase, The Message: “I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their own lives, / That men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.”
But I keep trying to take charge because, as I’ve explained to the Lord many times, I’ve got this great plan …
Maybe you know what I mean because you have some really good plans, too. Maybe God’s been more impressed with yours than he has been with mine.
Lord, I explain, I’m so thankful for the family you’ve given me! Now let me share with you some of what I have in mind for my sons’ education, employment, future advancement …
And the God who, when he wanted to send his Son into this world chose the tiny form of an infant and the landing site as a feed trough in a stable in a hick town called Bethlehem, seems unimpressed with my plan for my kids. “Peace, be still,” he says. “Just love them and trust me.”
Lord, I explain, I’m so thankful for the little church you’ve allowed me to serve, but I’ve got some great ideas for future expansion, and the words “crystal” and “Muleshoe-shaped cathedral” come to mind . . .
And the God who, when he needed to feed a large crowd of a few thousand folks, chose to ask for a handout from a little boy with a little lunch of little loaves and little fish, says, “Peace, be still. Just love my people, and trust me.”
Lord, I explain, I know I make lots of mistakes, but in some parts of my life and even religion, I’ve planned the work and worked the plan, and I think I’ve got things together there. I just need a little help in case I missed something …
And the God who, when he wanted to save the world chose for his son to do every bit of the work of salvation on a cross “lest any man should boast” says, “Peace, be still. Love my Son and trust me.”
Lord, I explain, here’s my plan for how I can live a new and better life … But before I can impress the Lord with my self-improvement plan, a cold stone begins to roll away and the brilliant glory of God’s Son burns away my arrogant self-righteousness and sends me to my knees in awe and praise.
In God’s plan, in God’s power, he is risen!
Love him. Trust him.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org