The ask was for direction. The prayer was for guidance. Removing the hindrances . . . making straight the paths . . . that was the request. And that which was in need of a divine “maps app?” The heart. The destination? The love of God . . . and the perseverance of Christ.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (2Thessalonians 3:5 ESV)
The Thessalonians were relatively new believers. Grounded in the basics of the faith but placed in the context of advanced persecution. Paul would do all that he could to support them. He would write to them concerning the truth . . . send brothers to them to encourage them in the faith . . . and, blanketing it all, pray for them and their endurance in the faith. But, beyond all his best efforts, Paul knew that the “X factor” for keepin’ on keepin’ on was something beyond his reach. That the “secret sauce” was something he couldn’t apply. At the end of the day, it would be a heart thing. Only the inner man able to sustain the determination to walk in a manner worthy of the upward call of heaven, despite the opposition.
And so, Paul makes the ask . . . O’ that the Lord would make straight paths for your heart to know the love of God and the patient perseverance of Christ.
Reminds me of the basics of computer programming (that would be “software engineering” for today’s generation) . . . G-I-G-O . . . Garbage-In-Garbage-Out . . . that the quality of a program’s output is directly related to the quality of the input. Bad data in . . . bad information out. Good data in . . . good information out.
In the case of Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians . . . God In . . . God Out.
To the degree that they might know afresh the love of God, that would be the degree to which they would know the steadfastness of Christ. Should their hearts be stirred anew with that love which surpasses knowledge, then their minds would refocus on the promise that they could do all things through Christ who strengthens them. To be flooded with the implications of the cross would result in lives poured out in self-sacrificing determination to faithfully live for Him who is faithful.
God In . . . God Out. His love before us . . . the world behind us.
And it’s only as the Lord directs our hearts. Not our ability to gut it out . . . not our disciplined mind over all in this world that doesn’t matter. But only as God, by His Spirit, stirs our spirits . . . and directs our souls . . . and makes straight paths for our hearts . . . to know afresh His great love toward us . . . will He also direct us to desire the great perseverance so modeled by His blessed Son.
God In . . . God Out . . . by God’s grace . . . solely for God’s glory.