With all your heart

Let’s spend some time in one of the most quoted passages in the Bible. Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Trust is one of those issues in life that is more appealing in theory than it is in practice. The idea of trusting God with my heart sounds great when things are going well. I might even be tempted to think that the reason things are going well at present is because I have been doing a good job of trusting Him.

But what happens when things aren’t going well? What happens when the trials come, when life becomes a long, bone-wearying struggle? What happens when I can’t find my way out of the circumstances I am in?

Proverbs 3:5-6 is for those times. This passage speaks to us in those times when our own understanding becomes useless because we don’t understand what is happening. We are given this passage for those times when we couldn’t walk a straight path if our lives depended on it, because we can’t see even the next step, let alone a path.

We are given this passage because sometimes God directs our steps in ways we could never understand, and to walk with Him means to release all control over your life, all expectations of your future or the life you had imagined, and submitting to His authority in your life.

And understand this: if you trust the Lord completely and allow Him to direct your path, it is almost assured that you will not understand your path. You may very well be led on a path you would not have chosen for yourself. Trusting your whole heart to God means being OK with His path for you, even when it makes no sense to you.

Imagine you had a dream to become President of the United States. If you were to plan your path to this goal, what would it look like?

  • Ivy League education;
  • Law career;
  • Win a local election;
  • Become a Congressman, Senator or Governor of your state;
  • Run for President.

That looks like a good plan. It makes perfect sense from our perspective.

In the book of Genesis we are told that God gave Joseph dreams. Those dreams suggested some things that would happen in Joseph’s future. In particular, they showed that Joseph would be placed in a position of authority, and that Joseph’s family would actually submit to his authority and bow down to him.

Joseph trusted the Lord with his dreams, and God made them a reality. But did God’s path look anything like the plan we sketched out earlier?

  • Joseph was hated by his brothers because of his God-given dream;
  • He was sold as a slave into Egypt, and his father was told he was dead;
  • He was falsely accused by the wife of his master and thrown into prison; and then…
  • He was elevated to the highest position of leadership in Egypt, second only to Pharoah.

The path God designed for Joseph was inexplicable. If we were looking at Joseph’s life as it was happening, would we think that God had Joseph on a path to a promise? Or would we wonder what had happened to Joseph, what had he done to deserve slavery and prison? Would we think God had abandoned him?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Verse 5 describes our choice: we will either trust in God or we will trust in ourselves. We will be obedient to His instruction in our lives and allow Him to do His will in our lives, or we will reject the Scriptures because “they don’t work in my life.”

Verse 6 describes the promise. If we will submit to Him, He will make our paths straight.

Submitting to Him means choosing Him and His wishes over ourselves and our wishes. Submitting to Him means doing things that we can’t understand or explain simply because it is what He wants us to do.

Here is something else to consider, something we must remember every day of our lives. Too often our thoughts and plans are centered on our own comfort and success. God has plans that go way beyond that. Right now God is working and planning for the redemption of His creation, and He has a role for you to play in that redemption.

There is no way you or I could ever imagine what our role in that plan might look like. The only way for us to find our place in His plan is to trust Him with all of our heart, not in theory but in practice. Every day. In good times and in troubled times. Not because we understand, but because we believe.

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