5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
When I turned 16, my dad gave me a Bible with Proverbs 3:5-6 written on the title page. I haven’t had that particular Bible for many years now, but the verse has stayed with me and strengthened me in many circumstances.
Verse 5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, must be one of the most challenging precepts in the Bible, yet one of the wisest. Over the years, I have been all too aware of the limitations of my own understandings. My knowledge of others, the world and myself is fraught with imperfections. It has to be – there is too much information, too many angles and variations, and too many nuances in people’s motivations and character for my understanding to be flawless.
With so much going on, I take heart. The more I get to know God, the more I trust Him and lean on his understanding of people and circumstances. Learning to lean on God has not been easy, and I am still learning, but it makes the challenges of this world easier to navigate. Leaning on God’s understanding has helped me value other people, see good in them, and make connections that I wouldn’t have made. It has helped me walk through painful experiences without bitterness and with hope. It has helped me live with the expectation of good and be confident even when there is uncertainty or potentially fear-inducing circumstances around me.
Verse 5 is the precursor for verse 6, and when I trust God, I acknowledge him. The truth is we can’t often see the path ahead, and there are bends in the road and side streets and crossroads. The book of Jeremiah says that when we get to that point in the road – stop, listen, look, and ask for the ancient path – God will lead us on the good path.
Proverbs 3:5-6 is wisdom for today, for this hour and this time. Our own understanding will lead us down a path of fear and heartache. God’s understanding is vastly different and will lead us down a path of peace, hope, and great expectations.
We are three-quarters of the way through a tiring year, but it doesn’t have to be a year of harm and distress. We are at that point in the road – stop, look and listen. God’s understanding will bring you peace, courage for tomorrow and hope for the future.