“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8
To the weary, discouraged, wounded, anxious and fearful,
This proverb is for you. For us. For me.
It’s one I memorized as a child and have probably recited 100 times, but what does it mean? Though easily memorized, it’s not easily practiced. At least in my life. Let’s ponder anew and see if it doesn’t sink in a little deeper and a little richer.
Trust in the Lord. The cares of any given day, layered with the unknowns of the future and the hurts of the past can easily calcify into a rock hard heart, that makes trusting especially hard. Trusting means busting up the rock and letting the truth and light of the gospel shine. The truth that whatever temporal thing I’m clinging to is not steady, but the unchangeable God who loves me and has promised to never forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) is. He is trustworthy. The One who has promised to work all things together for my good (Romans 8:28).
Do not lean on your own understanding. It’s easy to assume that my understanding is ultimate. I’m a reasonably intelligent human being and I like to think that I “get it.” I know how things work and I can read between the lines, and surely my interpretation of reality is correct. Right? Wrong. My heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9), so if I’m only ever filtering reality and understanding through my own experience and emotion, I’m in trouble.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Have you ever been on a hike with a really crooked path? One that’s taking you up the side of a mountain via a million switchbacks? It’s a hard climb! Straight paths are much easier to navigate… you can see who’s leading you clearly, and you know which way to go. He makes our paths straight. He leads us. When we acknowledge Him in all our ways, there’s nothing to fear.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. There are times when I am very aware that I am not wise, but there are also seasons when I am sure that I know what is right. Do you see what’s set up as the opposite of being “wise in your own eyes?” Fearing the Lord and turning from evil. When I think I have things figured out, the best thing I can instruct my heart to do is fear the Lord. To consider His greatness and to be in awe. To reverently fear the bigness and holiness of God. It makes me aware of how little I am, how little I know, and how grateful I am for Jesus. When that is my posture, I will turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Read that out loud a few times… healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Does anything in the world sound more life-giving than that promise? To the weary, discouraged, wounded, anxious and fearful? Healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Trusting in the Lord brings life and refreshment!
So, dear one, what is it that you’re turning over in your mind today? An unknown future? Job loss? Financial difficulty? Infertility? Singleness? A tough season of marriage? Crazy hard day of parenting? Hurtful words? Whatever it is, healing and refreshment are possible. Possible for today. Where do you need to let go?
Trust in the Lord… are you believing the lie that He is not able?
In all your ways acknowledge Him… are you trying to manage everything yourself?
Be not wise in your own eyes… is your pride in the way?
Fear the Lord… do you need to be reminded of who He is?
Turn from evil… is there sin you need to confess?
When we actually do what we’re instructed to in this proverb, we reap incredible benefits. Straight paths, healing, and refreshment, rest, encouragement, peace, and freedom from fear.
Get out the sledgehammers – let’s bust up the rock.