The Word in the Wings

The Word in the Wings  > Regina’s Journey: stay true to the path

Regina's Journey: stay true to the path

By: JESSICA NOONAN

Life can be a journey with lots of different paths. Knowing the correct one can be challenging, and that is when we need to seek God for wisdom and discernment. Recently, I had to make a few decisions in my own life. There were a couple of different paths in front of me, but I wasn’t sure which direction God wanted me to go.

Last August, I was offered the position as the Ministry Assistant here at Glorify Performing Arts, but I was also planning to teach dance in the fall and lead Bible study at my church. Knowing I could not do it all, due to the schedules of my family, I had to choose one path. Do I continue to teach dance, which is something I love and I feel comfortable doing, or do I embark on a new journey and try something completely new to glorify God? I am gonna be honest, the latter sounded pretty scary.

During that time, I prayed that God would give me a clear answer. I prayed he would show me through scripture or through other signs. One of the ways he spoke loud and clear to me was through a devotional I read in Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. 

“I AM THE FIRM FOUNDATION on which you can dance and sing and celebrate My Presence.

This is My high and holy calling for you; receive it as a precious gift. Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life. Give up your striving to keep everything under control–an impossible task and a waste of precious energy.

My guidance for each of My children is unique.

That’s why listening to Me is so vital for your well-being. Let me prepare you for the day that awaits you and point you in the right direction. I am with you continually, so don’t be intimidated by fear. Though it stalks you, it cannot harm you, as long as you cling to My hand. Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.”

WOW. Ok, God, I get it. I can do this. I can go down this new path even though the other is more familiar. I can do it because I have YOU. You will sustain me and provide all I need to achieve. I just need to trust you, lean on you and work hard. YOU will be glorified when I follow the path you have instructed for me. 

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Princess Regina, the protagonist in our new upcoming ballet Regina’s Journey, sets forth on a mission that will eventually give her four life lessons needed to one day rule her kingdom. To prepare the dancers for this production based on the biblical principles of wisdom, we have begun to study Proverbs. 

Proverbs was written most likely around 700 BC by King Solomon and others (NIV Quest Study Bible, 201). A proverb defined by is “a short sentence etc., usually known by many people, stating something commonly experienced or giving advice” (Cambridge Dictionary). Biblical proverbs offer timeless spiritual wisdom on issues ranging from money to friendship to the dangers of adultery and more. They are “God’s invitation to learn wisdom from previous generations” and are written using biblical poetry (“Proverbs” video by The Bible Project). Poetry makes up 30% of the Bible and is used to ignite emotions and to deepen your understanding of the text (“Poetry” video by The Bible Project). Biblical poetry does not use rhyme or meter but uses figurative language and parallelism to expand and contrast ideas.

In Regina’s Journey, Regina’s mother tells her she must prove that she is ready to rule the kingdom. To do this, Princess Regina must go on a journey to retrieve the book of wisdom which is at the top of a mountain outside the village. She must stay on the designated path (the path of wisdom) at all times. Throughout the story an evil gremlin is determined to lure her off the path by dressing in disguise and presenting other ways as more desirable.

The first lesson Regina learns on her journey is, “Stay true to the path that God has called on your life even if it seems like another way might be better.To understand this life principle on a deeper level, we looked at the very beginning of Proverbs, Proverbs 1:1-7. To understand which path is the path God called on your life can be difficult at times, especially in today’s culture. We receive advice from social media, talk shows, friends, and self help books. It can be overwhelming and very confusing. Social media screams that true happiness is found through money, and earthly desires. Ads are constantly flashed reminding us of our inadequacies. “Do you want to be a better mom? Buy this book and do these activities!” “Want to be happier? Get botox and lose weight.” “Do you want to be a better person with a better job? Put yourself first always;” the list goes on and on. That is why it is so important to seek the Bible for truth. Proverbs 1 explains its purpose and gives an introduction to what is required to “stay true to the path that God has called on your life.” 

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2 For learning about wisdom and instruction,

  for understanding words of insight,

3 for gaining instruction in wise dealing,

  righteousness, justice, and equity;

4 to teach shrewdness to the simple,

  knowledge and prudence to the young—

5 let the wise, too, hear and gain in learning

  and the discerning acquire skill,

6 to understand a proverb and a figure,

  the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

  fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The scripture is divided line by line into couplets. A couplet is “A unit of verse consisting of two successive lines, usually rhyming and having the same meter and often forming a complete thought or syntactic unit” (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition). It is important to take note that these couplets do not rhyme but do form a complete thought. Let’s take a look at it line by line.

Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel.

This line introduces the book and the author. This isn’t just any random author, this is King Solomon who was the wisest king to rule Israel because God granted Him wisdom when he asked with a humble heart. 1 Kings 3:10-15 says: 

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or for the life of your enemies but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed, I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you, and no one like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”

As we continue to read Proverbs, we can consider that these wise sayings are connected to a person who sought wisdom from God, much as the sayings in the book direct the reader to do.

Proverbs 1:2 For learning about wisdom and instruction,   

for understanding words of insight: 

The couplet is symmetrical in structure. They both state a verb and then the noun. The first line tells us Proverbs is for hearing new information on wisdom and instruction. The second line expands on the first. It gives a little more detail with the second verb, “understanding” and the noun “words of insight.” “Understanding” implies a deeper level of comprehension than just “hearing.” “Words of insight” seem to mean a further discovery gained through the instruction. 

3 for gaining instruction in wise dealing,

    righteousness, justice, and equity;

This couplet is asymmetrical. The first line expresses the thought with a verb and noun phrase, and the second line expands on the noun using additional nouns. The Book of Proverbs is for gaining instruction in not only wise dealing but in “righteousness, justice and equity.” The second line introduces that wisdom has much more to do with the treatment of others than just your own success. Our current world states “YOU are the most important,” but to me this scripture implies that “wise dealing” is linked to “justice and equity” for all, not just yourself. It is all over social media: self promotion, self justification, and self denial. We as a society are so quick to have an answer to defend every action in our lives, even if it is at the expense of another person. But then we become very defensive if someone calls us out on our selfish behaviors. Jesus tells us to put others first, not ourselves. Philippians 2:1-5 in The Message translation says this so beautifully:

 “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.”

The next verse in our Proverbs passage is another couplet that exhibits parallelism.

4 to teach shrewdness to the simple,

   knowledge and prudence to the young—

One verb serves two noun phrases to set them in comparison. In the first line, the author is telling us that proverbs are used to teach good judgment to the simple-minded. The second line expands on the first, providing more information, stating proverbs also teach knowledge and discipline to the young.  The line suggests that good judgment and knowledge need to be taught to all, beginning with the youth. In our current day, are we taking the time to raise our kids to become good decision makers in order to become successful, morally upright citizens of society? Or are we letting our society and social media dictate their thoughts and moral compass?

5 let the wise, too, hear and gain in learning

   and the discerning acquire skill

Here the author is not introducing another thought but elaborating on the last through contrast,mentioning that not only the simple and young but also the wise and discerning need the knowledge and wisdom presented in Proverbs. Reinforcing the importance of all gaining wisdom through the journey of life. Acquiring knowledge and wisdom is a continuous journey for all. The old continue to grow and learn just as much as the young.

6 to understand a proverb and a figure,

   the words of the wise and their riddles.

This is an asymmetrical couplet stating the verb and noun followed by the second line which further defines what everyone needs “to understand.” Proverbs are common sayings that come from a wise person. A riddle can be used to provoke deeper understanding.

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

   fools despise wisdom and instruction.

This is my favorite line in Proverbs 1. The author saved the most important tip for the last line. This line informs the reader where to find wisdom. In order to gain any sort of knowledge you must “fear” the Lord. “The fear of the Lord” does not mean to be afraid of God, it means to live in reverential awe of the Lord. We must know our place in the order of creation. Fear of the Lord helps us to guide and teach our children. When we fear the Lord we are surrendering to our Lord (Olive Tree Blog). The second line adds a contrasting idea stating that only a foolish person would refuse to fear the Lord. When you do not fear the Lord, you are not wise and do not want to live within God’s parameters.

***

Now that we have analyzed the structure of the scripture to understand its meaning, we will look at how it pertains to the first lesson in Regina’s Journey: “Stay true to the path that God has called on your life even if it seems like another way might be better.”

Regina experiences her first obstacle when she encounters a river she needs to cross, covered in frogs. When she tries to cross the river she is at first unsuccessful and becomes frustrated. The gremlin disguised as an old woman approaches Regina. She suggests Regina to walk along the river instead of traveling across it. Regina knows walking along the river would be easier, but she was instructed to stay along the path, which would require her to cross the river. Should she take the easier path or the one she was instructed to take?

This lesson is so relevant to all. I am sure we have all been at a crossroads where we know we should stick with something but the days seem so exhausting and overwhelming, we just want to give up. Proverbs teaches us that when we seek God we find wisdom, and when we seek wisdom we find God! How cool is that? If we follow God’s teachings and trust him, he will sustain us and make our path clear. It all comes back to God and your relationship with Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

We must lean into the teachings of the Lord and pass them down to our children and our children’s children. These truths are found in the Bible, not in the self help books of our current culture. We are so tempted to go to friends, the internet, social media or books to help us make decisions. While other resources can be helpful, we actually have access to the greatest resource of all: God. He wants us to go to Him to seek our answers. We may not receive that answer in a timely fashion. We may get impatient and wonder if He even hears us. But God has a plan for all of us; a GOOD plan. The hard part is trusting Him in the process. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us of this exact idea: 

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

In conclusion, our main takeaway after studying Proverbs 1, is that IF you follow God’s instructions you WILL have wisdom and knowledge. If you have wisdom and knowledge you will have correct discernment when life gets difficult. You will have the strength to keep going even when it seems impossible. You will have God beside you to make sure you don’t go down that wrong path BUT even if you do, God has the power to pull you back. I encourage us all to trust in the Lord, and to “stay true to the path that God has called on your life even if it seems like another way might be better”. Remember, Isaiah 55:8 (NLT) says,

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

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Scripture quotations in this post are from the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition, except where otherwise noted.

Secondary references:

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson, 2004).

NIV Quest Study Bible (Zondervan, 2019).

“Poetry” video by The Bible Project (May 24, 2018).

“Proverbs” video by The Bible Project (May 31, 2016).

“What Does it Mean to Fear the Lord?” on Olive Tree Blog.

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Glorify Dance Theatre Presents

May 3-4

This is a family-friendly ballet that kids of ALL ages will enjoy!