Is there a certain book of the Bible that you have found yourself turning back to through different seasons of life? It doesn’t seem to matter how many times you’ve read through it, you just long for it?
Proverbs is that book for me.
So it was no surprise when I recently came across a few verses in Proverbs that made me feel right at home; like I was being welcomed back by some old friends. Only this time, the Lord opened my eyes afresh to those verses. He knew that in my current chapter of life, I needed to go deeper.
I had read Proverbs 3:5-6,
“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.”
Do those verses ring a bell? They are definitely favorites for the makers of christian merchandise. I’m sure you’ve seen them on pillows, frames, pictures and t-shirts. But if you have a minute, I’d love to share with you the deeper meaning that the Lord revealed to me in those words.
First, the author of Proverbs, Solomon, gives us three commands in those two verses. And second, he gives us a promise.
If you are anything like me, I don’t love the word command. It sounds daunting, forceful and domineering. But let’s remember that the Holy Spirit is inspiring Solomon to write these words. These commands are for our own good. They are given to us as a gift. A gift that is meant to be unwrapped and used every day. A gift that will draw us closer to our Creator, and a gift that will mold us to be exactly who He created us to be.
So let’s unwrap the first gift.
The first command: “TRUST in the Lord with ALL your HEART…”
There are two parts to this; it’s not only saying trust in the Lord, but trust in the Lord with all your heart. And as I slowly read through those words, I was hit with the weight of it’s application. Sure, I say I trust the Lord, but with all my heart? With all my dreams, my hopes, my past, my insecurities, my relationships, my fears, and my future? With everything that makes me who I am, do I trust Him with all of that?
The second command: “…and DO NOT LEAN on YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.”
This is where it really started getting real for me. Not only was I being asked to trust the Lord with all my heart, but now Solomon is encouraging me to make sure I’m not holding anything back. The Holy Spirit is using these words to dig into my soul and make me question if there are areas that I’m not trusting the Lord with because of my own finite understanding and experiences.
And that makes sense humanly speaking. For example, if someone has only experienced setbacks in a job, then he or she is going to assume setbacks will continue. Or if someone has only experienced heartache in relationships, then he or she is going to approach all new relationships with a guard up, preparing for the inevitable.
But this verse is encouraging us to trust the Lord with all our hearts REGARDLESS of what we’ve seen or experienced. Regardless of what makes sense or what doctors tell us, or what the world says. We are being commanded to pursue a trust in the Lord that surpasses our finite understanding and place it instead in His infinite wisdom, love and power.
The final command: “In ALL YOUR WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM…”
When I read these words I got this picture in my mind of Jesus standing beside me. And I was convicted with how many times, throughout any given day, I live life without acknowledging His presence. Whether it’s in my thoughts, my words or my actions, how often do I disregard the truth, that as a believer in Christ, I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me? How often do I ignore His still small voice? How often am I running so fast I miss Him gently telling me to slow down. How often do I miss out on being His hands and feet because I allow everything else to take center stage?
“In all your ways…” Not just in some ways, but all ways. And while that seems daunting, think about what that would look like. How would your day look if you acknowledged the Lord’s presence in your thoughts, in your conversations and in the actions you take? What kind of a difference would that make?
And finally…The Promise: “…and he will make straight your paths.”
Now, I think it’s these words that make Proverbs 3:5-6 such a popular reference. Who doesn’t want the Lord to make his path straight? Who isn’t seeking clarity and direction? But let’s remember, it’s not saying that He will make the paths we’ve planned straight. Instead, it’s the perfect paths He created for us that will be made straight, paths that will bring Him the ultimate glory.
And this is where I’ll close.
Regardless of where you are right now, regardless of what clarity and direction you are seeking, let’s place our focus on the first three commands we see in these verses, believing that God will orchestrate the rest.
Will you join me in Trusting HIM with ALL your heart? Can we strive to stop LEANING on our OWN understanding? And finally, can we together acknowledge His constant presence in our lives?
My prayer is that these verses in Proverbs continue to be a source of encouragement and direction in your life as they are for me.