Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 4:12
"When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run you will not stumble"
This proverb is about the ways that we are stopped when we do not have wisdom. We are impeded or we stumble. Something blocks us or in some way we are tripped up.
What is blocking you from really having smooth sailing in your business or marriage or other aspects of your life? It has to do with a lack of acquisition of wisdom. Why did you stumble and fall flat on your face in some aspect of your life? It has to do with a lack of wisdom or understanding in your life. You did not choose the everybody-wins action or did not embrace the connections and relationships between things.
The word impeded is the Hebrew word tsarar, which means enemy or distress or to make narrow, trouble, bind up, tie up, adversary. Notice the richness of this idea in the original Hebrew. Solomon is telling us from 3,000+ years ago under the inspiration of God that when you acquire wisdom and act out of it, you will avoid many, if not most, of the distresses or adversaries of life. He is suggesting that much of the trouble we encounter in life is because of our own foolishness. We have been selfish, impulsive, or rebellious. We have not been willing to listen or act in accordance with wisdom and understanding. We can smooth our road so much. It does not have to get so narrow constantly.
Think through the trouble, the stress, the narrowing, and the blockages in your life. Is it in your finances, in your career, in your marriage, in your family, with your friendships, with your church, in your relationship with God? Is it because you have not been wise? There is a choice out there that will open up the path in your life. It is a win for all the righteous people involved. God will win, righteous people will win, and you will win. It is not your first choice because it is not a selfish win. It is a long-term win for you. It is a faith choice for you. Usually you have to trust God that the rewards will come around to you longer term. The wise choice can feel like a giving up or giving away control. God is telling us that you have to make choices that are counter-intuitive to you at times. They may not "feel" right to you, but they are clearly wise. Everybody can see it but you, usually.
We are most often impeded, distressed, blocked, and squeezed by our own choices, actions, and lack of wisdom. Choose wisely and the world will open up for you.
The Hebrew word translated stumble is the word kasal, which means stumble, totter, stagger from weariness, weakness, or even from fleeing under attackers. It can mean ruined, fall, feeble, overthrown, even decayed.
What is interesting here is that this stumbling, falling, weariness, and/or weakness takes place when you are running or trying to make lots of progress in a particular direction – either away from an adversary or toward a goal. In the first part of this proverb you were just living life; walking in the path of life and you were blocked. In this example of what happens when you have wisdom, you are beginning to make significant progress or escape the clutches of a difficult adversary. If you have wisdom and understanding, you will not be tripped up. You will not fall and be ruined. The progress will take place. You will get away. Weariness or weakness will not sabotage the pace you are developing.
I think of business leaders who are growing a business and have wisdom to understand when to hire, when to step aside, and when to let someone else handle an area or problem. I have watched too many businessmen and spouses and family members who have begun to make progress out of the chaos of their past only to be ruined or tripped by their own selfish choice in that they were not willing to listen to the help of others. The choice that felt right to them was not the right one.
Ask the question: Am I being impeded or blocked in some aspect of my life? If I am, then it is almost always a lack of wisdom or understanding. Look for the wisdom choice or action. Look for the interaction between things that you did not see before. Right when I was making real progress in my life, did I stumble? Does it keep happening at about the same place? Then my ruin is the result of a foolish choice or action that needs to be different next time.
Let's get specific here. When does the diet always fail? At what point does the budding relationship come apart? When does the interaction with the kids or your parents turn hostile? At what point do you get passed over for the promotion? At what point of the month do you run out of money consistently? At what point does your connection to God stall or get too hard? At what point do you always get tempted to drink or do drugs or wallow in pornography? At what point do you begin to get away from that bad person in your life but then give in to their pleadings to give them one more chance?
When you examine the answers to these questions, you will usually find that the answer is a choice or action that you consistently make which feels right to you but always spells your doom. Start making a different choice. Acquire wisdom. Acquire understanding.