All too often we think life is about what we do or about what we own. We are often frantically busy and our thoughts can be fixed on how to survive the next day. At work, someone gave me a plaque which says ‘Oh, no! Not another crisis! My schedule is full!’ That can be how we view life, as a series of obstacles to be negotiated, a set of hurdles to overcome.

Proverbs 20 tells us “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?” (Prov 20:24) It reminds us that there is more to our lives than the practical, mundane or ordinary. Proverbs has a way of cutting through the clutter of everyday life to the real issues. “Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within.” (Prov 20:5) Our inner life determines the course of our actions and we do well to drink ‘from the beautiful chalice of knowledge’ rather than adorning ourselves with gold and rare gems (Prov 20:15) . The real truth remains that God is in control, of our lives and of the universe: “God is in charge of human life, watching us inside and out.” (Prov 20:27) Because He is invisible, because we are so apt to rely on what we can see and hear and touch, we often forget just how much we depend on Him for everything, but we need to learn to dig deep wells in God.

The chapter shows us, however, that there is a real connection between spirituality and everyday life. So often, we think that the spiritual must live in a monastery or as hermits: how can you be spiritual and cope with the demands of a family or job? The chapter talks about differing weights and measures, how God is interested in justice and integrity in our work lives (Prov 20:10, 23). Laziness is condemned (Prov 20:4, 13), so clearly there is more to the spiritual life than ‘navel gazing’! Relationships need nurturing and forgiveness: “it’s a mark of good character to avert quarrels, but fools love to pick fights” (Prov 20:3); revenge is not how we should deal with situations (Prov 20:22). Leadership should be based on love, truth and integrity (Prov 20:28). Once again, we see the combination of practicality and spirituality which should be our hallmarks. Casting Crowns talk in one of their songs about ‘reckless abandon wrapped in common sense’ (Casting Crowns, ‘Somewhere In the Middle’) . I think Proverbs reflects this combination well and if we are balanced in our walk with God, so will we.