Proverbs 14:12 is just the right size to write on a card and put in a recipe box. It states:

“There is a way which seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.”

Whether we have a digital recipe box or a physical one, the Old Testament book of Proverbs has many great recipes for life we should be reading and pondering. And although nobody died from it, I inadvertently demonstrated how easily we can think we’re on a right path when we’re steadily moving towards disaster.

And yes, it had to do with a pie I made.

* * *

Before Brad and I married, he knew I was more adept at washing cars than fixing a meal. As a newlywed, however, I hit the recipe books and became reasonably capable in the kitchen. A few years into our marriage, we moved from the Pacific Northwest to sunny Arizona.

Which is where I made the now infamous “killer” pie.

* * *

Our community’s little newspaper ran a note that “off blooms” or “sour oranges” found on ornamental citrus trees could be used as substitutes for lemons in cooking. I was thrilled at the prospect of gathering unwanted oranges off the ornamental trees and putting them to good use.

I had a specialty cookbook for making pies from scratch, and arranged to pick sour oranges at our church campus.  The remaining ingredients needed for making lemon meringue pies were already on hand, so I was set.

But the recipe book didn’t have anything for making a lemon meringue pie from fresh lemons or lemon concentrate. This was “pre-Google” days and working one’s way out of a recipe problem was a bit more challenging. I did find a recipe for fresh orange pie in my book, however, and determined I should be able to follow that recipe and carefully substitute juice from the sour oranges for the sweet oranges. Of course, it would have been convenient if I hadn’t temporarily forgotten in the middle of making pies that fresh squeezed juice from my oranges had to be mega-diluted for that recipe.

Our apartment was soon filled with the aroma of fresh-squeezed “lemons”. I was so excited. It smelled quite strong, but that was fine with me. I liked a lemon pie that packed a punch!

There was a little voice in my head saying, “June… are you sure you’ve got this right?” I wondered about it, double checked the recipe, and concluded: “Yep!”

* * *

“There is a way that seems right to a person, but…”

The two pies, I have to say, turned out gorgeous. The filling set up beautifully, the pie crust was marvelously light and flaky, and the meringue turned out perfect.  I’d artistically styled the meringue and the ridges were toasted to a delicate, golden brown. I’d never seen better looking pies in my life!

Brad arrived home from work and we visited our way through dinner. But the crown jewel of our evening, we felt, was going to be delving into dessert. The scent of warm lemon pie wafting through the apartment fueled our anticipation.

When I cut into the pie and placed it on serving dishes, the aroma of “lemon” filled the room. I recall thinking, “Wow, I don’t remember a lemon pie ever smelling so powerful.” Brad, having similar thoughts, commented on it. I was nonetheless bursting with pride when my husband took his first bite.

* * *

This might be an appropriate time to mention that Brad can be quite the humorist.  So when his face contorted astonishingly about a millisecond after the pie went into his mouth, I started to laugh.

As you can imagine, he wasn’t in “I think I’ll humor my wife” mode. He’d just ingested the equivalent of about one lemon in a single bite and was reeling. I was oblivious to his suffering and began laughing so hard it brought tears to my eyes—or were they watering from the pungency of concentrate sour oranges swirling around us?

* * *

When we read in the first part of Proverbs 14:12 that “there is a way that seems right to a person…”, we should pay close attention. It’s one thing to think we’re on the right track about a recipe, waste time and resources making horrible pies that can’t be eaten, and then laughing about it. But the Bible communicates openly and honestly with us about matters of spiritual life and spiritual death.

There is a way which seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.

When we think we’re on the right path, we continue on it. Why change the way we think, live or do things when they seem right to us?

In the above paragraph, the word “we” notably appears three times; “we’re” appears once, as does the word “us”.  And that’s the problem. Human reasoning devoid of Godly wisdom and understanding always beats a path to self; and that path will seem right.

* * *

I double checked the recipe when making the pies but didn’t adequately ponder the recipe. Had I done so, I would have remembered that “sour oranges do not sweet oranges make.”

My friend, we don’t just need to read God’s word or “double check” it once in a while. Our mutual need is for a continual flow of Godly wisdom and understanding to direct our walk in this world. If we don’t commit to His clear teachings, we deceive ourselves. We become incapable of thinking our way past “doing what’s right for me” and eventually find doing so not only failed to be beneficial, but served to lead us to the very door of death.

And the death this proverb warns us about is one which is spiritual. It is an avoidable, permanent separation from God after one’s physical death.

* * *

My husband didn’t take another bite of that deceptively beautiful pie. And in a similar way, praise God, we don’t have to stay on a path which seems right to us but leads to death. Instead, we can delve into the glories of wisdom, understanding, and eternal life through God Himself. Psalm 34:8 joyfully calls out to us:

“O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

* * *

There are several steps to “tasting and seeing” that the LORD is good. We start by asking Him to give us the desire for it. We then get into His Word. We absorb it. We repent and change paths any time it reveals we’re heading in a wrong direction. And then, like the Psalmist, we become so thrilled about the LORD that we find ourselves calling out to others to discover just how wonderful He is!

We started today in Proverbs 14:12, which packs a good, potent punch. The truth of this proverb alone can benefit anyone, yet the entire book of Proverbs is filled with multiple snapshots of what Godly wisdom and understanding looks like in a world of choices. In it, we find that which we really want; not only in our daily walk, but at the end of our pathway: real life, true peace, solid hope, and unending, intimate favor with God.

* * *

As believers in Christ Jesus, we know that in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Through the power of God, the apostle Paul’s prayer and encouragement for the church in Colossae is as much for us today as it was for them!

“…and for those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is Christ Himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. … Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk in Him…” [Excerpts from Colossians 2:1-6]

* * *

God invites everyone to walk the path of intimacy, freedom, and eternal life with Him through Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

It’s the only pathway free of deception; one we can trust.

Self-Eval Questions:

  1. Do I tend to bypass or speed read through God’s recipes for how I should walk in this world?
  2. Have I inadvertently been serving up assistance or encouragement to others which look marvelous on the outside, yet fail to help them “taste and see that the LORD is good”?
  3. Have I put my trust in the fact that God loves me, no matter what I or others may think of me? And that He desires to have deepest intimacy with me through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, today and always?

* * *

My prayer: Lord, thank you that you never give us recipes for disaster. Your ways are good and perfect and you tell us everything we need to know to have spiritual life and freedom with you forever. What an amazing God you are!



People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.


  • Shannon says:

    June, at least you didn’t gather, clean, cut and boil skunk cabbage (thinking it was rhubarb) growing out in the field – to attempt to make your new husband “Rhubarb Crisp”… ?

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