Trust, Lean, and Acknowledge
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. (Pro. 3:5-6 NKJ
We all know that as we journey through life there are tough decisions to be made. There are many choices that we make that have lasting ramifications which continue to affect and shape our journey. We find a biblical approach for making decisions in Proverbs 3:5-6. As we unpack these powerful verses, we'll find that trusting, leaning, and acknowledging are at the heart of making the right choices.
If all the author had said was, "Trust in the Lord," then we would miss the depth of the degree of the trusting. You will find "trust in the Lord" in many places in the bible, and even "In God we Trust" can be found on our coins. However, here in today's verse we are told to trust with "all our heart." You see, God doesn't just want a little of your trust or even most of your trust, but all of your heart. When we believe something with all our heart, nothing will change our mind. By trusting God with all our heart, what we are really doing is committing our faith to action. It is one thing to believe in something, and another thing to trust in something. If I believe a path will take me to a desired destination, trust is never fully utilized until I take the first steps on the path - then I am not just believing, but I am fully trusting that my current path will lead to my desired destination. I am exercising my faith! So, here is our first premise...
Premise #1: Trust God completely with the direction of your life.
The second part of verse 5, "Lean not on your own understanding," gives us a warning. Here we find a pitfall that can and will erode our trust in God. The truth is that we don't share God's perspective. He can see the entire parade of our lives, while we can't see around the next bend. When we trust that God sees our entire journey, we have God to lean on. The alternative would be to lean on our own limited scope of reference, namely - our own understanding. This is a commonplace occurrence usually introduced to us as self-doubt, aversion to risk, or decision remorse. The author tells us here that these feelings are normal, we all endure them, but the best practice is to not to trust our feelings or lean on our understanding. He doesn't say ignore your understanding, but just don't lean on your understanding. You see, most of our decisions in life require serious steps of faith, and we don't know how things will work out in the end. This second premise then warns us, and in the warning, it refocuses our trust - not in ourselves, but in the All-Knowing, All-Loving, God who promises never to leave us or forsake us.
Premise #2: Beware your limited scope of reference - you can't depend on it.
Verse 6 just doesn't leave us hanging with the truth of our pitfall (Premise #2), but gives us instruction about how to ease the emotional trials that accompany everyone's journey. We are instructed to "acknowledge God in all our ways." First, what does it mean to acknowledge God? Good question. When we acknowledge God, we are setting aside our own understanding and limited scope of reference (premise #2) and attempting to gain God's perspective based on what we know about God. From God's word we know that He is faithful, loving, caring, and all-knowing. He is our heavenly Father, who promises never to leave us but always be with us. He doesn't promise us to rescue us from every bad decision we make or rough spot on the journey, but He does promise us the power of His presence through those tough shadowy valleys of our life's journey. To acknowledge God also means to submit to Him, to His authority, and spend time in the study of His word, on bended knee in prayer, and being attentive to His Spirit. Furthermore, here is the kicker - just as we trust with "all our heart," the instruction here is to acknowledge God "in all our ways." This is full submission to God, and complete surrender to His will for our lives. Therefore, premise #3 provides the exact place we can lean since we cannot lean on ourselves.
Premise #3: Fully submit, surrender, and acknowledge God in every aspect of your life and lean on Him in the trials, tests, and fires of your journey.
Finally, we reach the end of our two verses, and here we discover the great result of trusting, leaning, and acknowledging...
God will direct our paths.
Let that sink in for a moment... The God, who sees the entire parade from beginning to end, promises to direct you on the path you should go! This promise is nothing short of amazing. God is promising you that when you do your part by adhering to the three premises offered in Proverbs 3:5-6, He will make the way clear to you. You will know the right path to take, and it will be in the sweet spot of God's will for you. This doesn't mean that you will not face trials, tribulations, tests, and trying times, but it does mean that this path will lead you to what is next, and you will be stronger for your experiences not weaker. Truthfully, stronger will always be determined by our relationship to God and how fully we trust Him (all our heart) and the depth of how we acknowledge Him (all our ways).
Now, journey on my friends!
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© 2019 Malcolm Woody