“They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.”–Psalm 1:3

When I was little, I loved riding my pink Big Wheels tricycle all around the neighborhood with my mother. Every time we came to an intersection, she would say to me, “Stop, look, and listen, before you cross the street. Use your eyes, use your ears, and then use your feet.” Even twenty-some years later, whenever I am preparing to cross a busy intersection, these are the first words that come to mind.

Psalm 1 tells us that whenever we come to an intersection in life we have two options. We can follow the advice of the wicked and walk the path that sinners tread, or we can delight in the law of the Lord and mediate upon it day and night (1:1-2).

What causes me to pause in reading this text is that these two options don’t seem equal. One would think that the opposite of following the wicked would be following the righteous. However, the second option doesn’t involve any type of movement at all. Instead, the psalmist says if we don’t want to follow the path of sinners, then we need to stop.

Like a tree planted by streams of water, the psalmist invites to be still, to soak in the living streams of water God has for us this day, to ground ourselves in the foundation God’s Word.

How many times do we take the first option—jumping immediately into action and then giving God whatever time we have leftover . . . if any? The thrill of this rabbit-chasing lifestyle can be quite appealing, at first. However, before long, we may find ourselves running in exhaustion “the path that sinners tread” (1:1). I know very few people who intentionally choose to take this path; often it draws us in when we least expect it.

Perhaps that is why it is all the more important for us to stop, look, and listen as we begin a new year. In these first few days of 2015, may we take time to be still, to meditate, to wonder, to delight in whatever it is that God has to offer us this day—before we take one single step.

Mary Alice Birdwhistell is originally from the beautiful state of Kentucky and a graduate of Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. In 2009, she moved to Waco, Texas, to attend George W. Truett Theological Seminary and joined the staff at Calvary Baptist Church as children’s minister. Upon completing her Master of Divinity degree in 2013, Calvary called her to become their associate pastor. Mary Alice now calls Waco home and considers ministry to be the sacred gift of sharing life with a diverse community of people. She loves the color purple, anything chocolate, coffee shop conversations, and Kentucky basketball.