The book of Proverbs can be summarized in one brief passage that has likely been memorized by more Christ-followers than almost any other passage in the Bible. If you have any church background, you can probably quote Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
This is probably the crowning verse of Proverbs.
Maybe you know some people like this: They are flat-out, totally over-the-edge Christians. Almost overnight, it seems, their religion was altering everything: their morals, their relationships, their money-management, in some cases even their careers. They sing Jesus-is-my-boyfriend songs. They seem a little extreme and are scary to be around. You’re not quite sure you want to go that far.
Maybe you know someone like this: They don’t have a black and white approach to their faith. They don’t talk much about it, but you get the sense they trust God fully. Apparently God was there for them for something in their life. They can talk about giving God’s leadership a try.
The same opportunity is open to us. Anyone can make a decision to trust God and give God’s leadership a try. God doesn’t hunt us down, but waits patiently for us to approach. God accepts all of us where we are, with all of our doubts and reservations firmly in place. We’re invited to trust God one day at a time. We must only trust God as along as God proves God’s self trustworthy.
Trust God with all your heart. That is no simple pronouncement. There is no shortcut for trust. We develop a personal dimension of trust in God in much the same way we develop trust with friends: by engaging deeply and genuinely in everyday situations over a long period of time. That is the only way to determine for ourselves if it is safe and wise to entrust our lives to God.
God offers us grace and forgiveness, but we need to acknowledge our need for it and then willingly accept it. God offers wise and loving leadership for our lives, but we must let God know we want it. God offers the gift, but we need to extend our hands and take hold of it.
I know many people who come to the point of decision and ask, “What if I call on God and discover no one is home in heaven? What if nothing happens? What if there is only silence?” My only response is that there is just one way to find out: take the step and see if God proves God’s self trustworthy. If there is silence from heaven, you have your answer. You gave it a try and it didn’t work. Apparently it wasn’t real. Now you are free to walk away. You never have to look back.
Taking the big step toward God always requires an act of faith. But I look at it this way: a life worth living requires many steps of faith.
I am confident that anyone who acts on faith will find God to be trustworthy. But that is only the beginning. The next step is to trust God in many decisions of everyday life. The book of Proverbs constantly contrasts two paths: walking the path of human wisdom or walking the path of life with God’s wisdom.
Don’t rely on your own insight. This does not mean we throw away our cognitive functions or discount discernment. But it does caution us to be wary of our reflexive human reactions to complex life situations. Whether we acknowledge it or not, human perspective is limited and sometimes out natural intuition can be slightly suspect. We filter through our ego and distortions. As anyone in recovery knows, we are powerless until we turn over our will and our lives to the God of our understanding to restore sanity. Basically, a trust-God-and-don’t-rely-on-your-own-insights concept.
Years ago I read an article, 178 Seconds to Live. Now there’s a YouTube video! (It’s at the end of this blog post). The article was about twenty pilots who were capable pilots in clear weather but who did not have instrument training. Each pilot was put in a flight simulator and instructed to whatever he could to keep the airplane under control as he flew into think, dark clouds and stormy weather. It took these seasoned pilots with skilled intuition less than three minutes to “crash” once they lost their visual references.
The YouTube video is used as a reminder to pilots to trust their instruments. All proceeds well until he enters a thick layer of clouds. Several minutes after entering the soup, the instruments call for him to make a correction that seems all wrong to him. He trusts his intuition rather than the instruments…178 seconds until he crashed.
The write of Proverbs didn’t have this pilot example in mind, but knew that no matter how smart we are or how many life experiences we have under our belts, we still are subject to limited, and sometimes flawed, human judgment. Sometimes our best notions about what ought to be said or done is ill-advised, dangerous, or even destructive. When it comes to key decisions in our lives, we almost always need deeper insights and a broader perspective than mere human wisdom can give us.
God will make your paths straight. Before this last line of our proverbs sends anyone off on a tangent, I want to be clear about what it does not mean. It does not mean that God will necessarily make us healthy, wealthy, and happy. It does not mean that God will make us convertible, popular, and thin. It does not mean that God will satisfy all of our trivial wishes and temporal wants.
It does mean that God will give our lives direction, purpose, focus, and fulfillment. God will guide us around swamps and ditches so we can stay on the right path. God will work in us to transform our hearts and souls. God will work through us to have an impact on others. When you think about it, what more could we ask for?
God has a plan, a future, and a hope for each one of us. Though God does not promise a life free from problems or pain, God does promise a life that is too good to miss. But we will never discover that life, that adventure, until we entrust ourselves to God’s guidance and leadership. God understands our capabilities and our limitations. God knows exactly what pitfalls we need to avoid and sees the full scope of our potential.
Whatever step of faith you need to take, I hope and pray that you will take it. I don’t know what God has in store for your life, but I do know that it is an adventure you won’t want to miss!
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