by Jan Null
A few weeks ago, Ed took me to see the movie American Underdog. It’s the story of Kurt Warner’s football career. The beginning shows Kurt as a boy growing up with a struggling single mom. He has dreams, goals, and aspirations of being an NFL football quarterback. His tire swing becomes his target as he aims to sail the ball through the hole. He is relentless in his dream. As he grows and improves, he defines himself in one way: a football player.
Recently, I have started to refocus on memorizing scripture. The Lord led me to Proverbs 4, and with the help of someone in my accountability group, I have started hiding these words in my heart. The act of memorizing them has made them come alive. These words, under the Holy Spirit’s direction, showed me much about what should define a believer. In verse 18, he begins with,
The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn
Shining ever brighter until the full light of day.
These words remind me that my life should be defined as light. Recently on a trip to Florida, my friend Dee and I rose early to watch the sunrise on the beach. I was working on these verses at that time and as I watched the sun peak above the horizon, the hazy gray morning exploded with color and light. Light reveals where we should walk, what we should do, and how we can show others the way. A defining trait of a believer is light. Solomon then makes a distinct contrast.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness
They do not know what makes them stumble. Proverbs 4:19
The way of the wicked is very different. A person walking in darkness cannot see where they are going; many times, they don’t care. Their gait is marked with stumbling. As a college student, I had my first spelunking experience in Lancaster county – but those who had gone before my group had blown out the candles lit to show the way through the cave. Never have I been more scared or so in the dark. The walk of those around us who do not know Christ are experienced spelunkers. They cannot see what makes them stumble. Their walk is defined by darkness. The admonition from Solomon continues.
My son, pay attention to my words, turn your ear to what I say
Keep them ever before you, hide them in your heart. Proverbs 4:20-21
As a teacher who says “Pay Attention” all day long, I understand that Solomon wants us to listen carefully. His instruction says to turn your ear and hear the truth. Study, keep it in view, and memorize the Word. When I memorize portions of Scripture (as I did this one), it comes alive to me. I remember it. God shows me more of Himself. I want my life to be defined as a woman of the Word. The verse that follows spells out the reason God’s Word is so important in our lives.
For they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Proverbs 4:22
God’s Word is life. Obedience to truth brings health. For example, consider the effects of anxiety on the physical body. Anxiety can result in stomach pain, headache, sleeplessness, fatigue, and rapid breathing. In Matthew 6 and many other portions of Scripture, we are told NOT to be anxious but rather to trust God, who knows our need and cares for us as he cares for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. God never meant for anxiety to define a believer, and so walking in God’s principles guards against anxiety. Fear also has huge effects on the body, weakening the immune system, causing ulcers and accelerated aging. Hence the reason we are reminded throughout the Word to “Fear not!” Our lives should not be defined with fear.
In the movie, Kurt meets opposition as he goes from team to team. Coaches put great pressure on him to make him a stronger player and improve his timing and talent. It’s an uphill climb. However, as he reaches the peak of his career, he realizes that his faith and his role as husband and father is what truly defines him, gives him purpose and fulfillment. It’s not throwing the football after all.
Consider today: what defines you? Do those in your neighborhood, workplace, and family see the light of Christ in your walk, your conversation, your motives? Would those who know you best define you as one who loves and follows God and his Word? Are you making choices to study and obey God’s principles, knowing they are life and health? This could just be a defining moment.