Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
The wise man trusts in the Lord with all his heart. To trust in the Lord partially is to foolishly imply that he is only partially trustworthy. But since we know that he is fully powerful, fully present, fully aware and fully concerned, we should trust him with all our hearts, even when it requires abandoning our own understanding.
My mother-in-law tells a story of singing in her sister’s church. Before taking the stage, her sister whispered to be careful on the steps because they were old and hollow. Her best bet would be to put her weight on the arm rail. She did so, awkwardly tiptoeing up the steps, leaning exaggeratedly on the railing, only to find out later that it was all a joke. The boards were sturdy, and the congregation confused as to why this woman climbed steps so strangely.
Trusting in the Lord, our steps are sturdy, and there is no need to lean on the hand rail of our own understanding. In fact, leaning on our own understanding often proves disastrous because it is our understanding that is hollow. What do we understand now that we didn’t ten years ago? What will we understand in another ten years that we do not now? If we are less understanding than our future selves, how much less than God himself? It is folly to lean on our own understanding rather than trust in the Lord.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:6)
Ways and paths are not he same thing. To illustrate the difference, think about driving. Your ways are your actions and attitudes as the driver. Your paths are the roads you travel and the journey itself. The wise man acknowledges the Lord in all his ways (his actions and attitudes) and trusts the Lord to make straight his paths (his journey). It’s like GPS. I rely on my iPhone GPS so fully now that I don’t even look ahead at the steps. I just drive and turn when Siri tells me to.
Often God shows us the way, but not the path. How we would like to know the next ten steps! But alas, usually he will only show us the next one, preferring instead that we focus on faithfully obeying his ways.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:7)
The wise person does not consider himself wise, but rather fears the Lord and turns from evil. Fearing the Lord means recognizing that he is the most significant factor in reality and in each specific circumstance. It is a humble way of life.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:8)
When we live this way, we enjoy a physical result. Our flesh (literally navel) and bones are healed and refreshed. The corrosive effects of stress are washed away by the nourishing effects of faith.
- Read Proverbs 3:5-8 together.
- On a scale of 1-5, how stressed are you this week? (1 = totally at peace, 5 = on the verge of panic). What’s causing the stress?
- What would it look like to perfectly trust in the Lord with all your heart in relation to your current circumstances? What specific understandings do you need to stop leaning on in order to trust God more fully?
- What truths or promises from the Bible can you lean on instead of your own understanding?
- What would it look like to perfectly acknowledge the Lord in all your ways in reference to your current circumstances? What scriptures can help guide you here?
- What is the path you want in reference to your current situations? Are you open to the notion that God may have a totally different path in mind for you?
- How has stress and anxiety effected you physically? Does verse 8 appeal to you?
- Take some time to pray specifically over your current circumstances, asking God to help each other trust him more fully, lean less on your own understanding and acknowledge him in all your ways.