I stared at the phrase for a few minutes, allowing its truth to percolate in my mind. Profound in its simplicity yet deep in its theology it simply said, “Do not put a comma where God puts a period.” As we saw previously, the ‘period’ indicates the end of a sentence while the ‘comma’ indicates a pause, and from our phrase we see the speaker’s intent: in the sentence of life, do not put a comma, a pause, where God puts a period, a stop.
It is important that we understand that not every obstacle or negative experience we face is from the devil (Lamentations 3:8-11). Sometimes we are reaping the consequences of our actions and at other times it could very well be God at work in our lives. The Psalmist captured the truth of God’s sovereignty over our lives with the words, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases” (115:3, ESV), and that includes His willingness to stop us in our tracks if we are going in the wrong direction. In Psalm 37:23 we read, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD” and I agree with Bible Scholar Matthew Henry who, on this portion of text, writes, “By His grace and Holy Spirit He directs the thoughts, affections, and designs of good men. He has all hearts in His hand, but theirs by their own consent. By His providence He overrules the events that concern them, so as to make their way plain before them, both what they should do and what they may expect. Observe, God orders the steps of a good man; not only His way in general, by His written word, but His particular steps, by the whispers of conscience, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ He does not always show him his way at a distance, but leads him step by step, as children are led, and so keeps him in a continual dependence upon His guidance.”
As believers, if we are not tuned in to God’s frequency it is very easy to miss the periods, the times He says stop. Spiritual insensitivity, pride, among other things, can cause us to push past the ‘periods’ and pretend they are ‘pauses.’ Whether in the areas of our relationships, careers, choice of friends, or a mate, when God puts up the stop sign it is foolish to persist. Our finite minds may be tempted to hold on to what may seem like a good thing, but we have to trust the wisdom of our God whose ways and thoughts far exceed anything we could ever imagine (Isaiah 55:8,9). Our good is no match for God’s best.
Are doors closing on what seemed like sure opportunities? Does it seem like one disappointment after another? If we have sincerely placed ourselves in God’s care and as we allow Him to direct our paths, it is important that we lean not to our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5,6). When God says “STOP!” He knows what He is doing. May He grant us the courage to see the futility of our way, the grace to yield to His, and the wisdom to know the difference.