The first scripture I ever memorized was Proverbs 3:5-6.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
I was in 10th grade, and although I cannot say for certain, I’d assume my choosing of this verse had something to do with either a teenage crush or the stress of figuring out my entire life plan and purpose as a 16 year old.
Admittedly, not much has changed in the past 14 years!
For someone with a strong Myers-Briggs “J” (because structure and schedules and detailed plans are where it’s at people), I am forever challenged by this verse. It’s really hard for me “to let go and let God” because deep down, I struggle with trusting Him in every area of my life.
Over the years, and as I have grown in my faith, living to the tune of this verse has gotten easier. I don’t catch myself in a tizzy nearly as often as I did before, but I still struggle.
And I notice that, in an effort not to have to trust Him, I do all that I can so that I can trust myself.
Because isn’t that what we do when we don’t trust someone?
We take over.
We take over because we don’t believe that person is going to come through for us. Whether it’s because they’ve not come through in the past, or because we don’t know them well enough to know if they will, by taking matters into our own hands, we burden ourselves with tasks and expectations we were never instructed to pick up. We rely and lean into a presented problem rooted solely in our own perspective, operating out of our own strengths and forthcomings. In order to avoid potential embarrassment, rejection, and failure we work really hard to make all things right… all by ourselves.
Ever see a motorcycle make a tight turn? Have you ever been sailing, skiing, kayaking or horseback riding? In order to be successful – all of these activities require that you lean. Without leaning, without participating in the movement, you don’t go anywhere – or you fall over.
Find a pen. Lay it on a flat surface in front of you. At the exact middle of the pen, push with one finger from the top and one from below. What does the pen do?
It doesn’t do…anything.
The pen doesn’t move because the forces cancel each other out. Because, physics.
Now move your fingers to either end of the pen, still pushing up and down. Now what does the pen do?
The pen spins because although the forces are the same as before, torque has been added to the equation because now, the forces no longer “stand” on each other. They’re no longer in the same exact, but opposite, position.
See where I’m going with this? I sure hope so because that’s as far as my college physics abilities can go…
When we stand upon our own understandings, abilities and strengths: we stagnate like the pen, getting stuck in the “what ifs” and “hows” of fear.
Proverbs 3 reminds us that God is Who we are to trust. It is His strength, power and goodness that we can confidently “stand” within and lean upon.
Does this mean we don’t need to use our common sense? Nope. Don’t we have gifts and talents for a reason? Yep! Trusting God doesn’t mean we don’t live our lives by making decisions! Trusting God means that we consistently put our faith into action by listening and obeying Him because we believe in his goodness, power and wisdom to lead us and make our wonky life paths of sin and brokenness straight paths of righteousness.
I love The Message version of Proverbs 3:1-12. Read it with me below. What stands out to you? What phrases or words resonate?
Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you;
take to heart my commands.
They’ll help you live a long, long time,
a long life lived full and well.
Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.
I love the line that says: “don’t assume that you know it all”. Because ultimately, when we worry, what we’re saying with our thoughts and actions is that we think we do.
This week, I encourage you to pray through this Proverb, focusing specifically on verses 5-6. While you do this, use the following questions to guide your meditation:
- Where in your life do you need to trust God from the bottom of your heart? What would that look like for you?
- In which situations or trials do you fall into the assumption that you “know the end of the story” before it’s written? Why?
- What would it look like for you to lean in and listen for God’s voice in everything that you do? What holds you back?