I remember taking my son down the street to the empty school parking lot over a summer break. He needed to learn to parallel park for his driver’s exam. After setting up a couple of patio chairs for barriers, I demonstrated while talking to my son about what I was doing. Fortunately, I parked the car perfectly on the first try allowing my son to trust that I knew what I was doing. I got out and he practiced. He followed my instructions and learned to parallel park in a short amount of time. Why? Because he trusted me and followed my instructions. Why do we have so much trouble trusting God in the same way?
Here’s the thing – we tend to see trusting God as only a spiritual matter. That having faith that God will do His thing in our lives is all that matters. If I can just turn things over to God, everything will work out. If I can just trust in the Lord, all will be fine. This sounds good. It even sounds spiritual. However, it leaves out a big part of the equation and – I would argue – is not really spiritual at all…
The reason my son followed my instructions is because I have been driving a long time. He trusted that I knew what I was doing and could lead him in the right direction. Do you see the additional step? Not only did he BELIEVE in what I was telling him, he also FOLLOWED my instructions.
What about us? Trusting God means more than prayer. It is more than intellectually believing something. It means believing, praying, AND following His instructions. When we think about trusting God, we often talk about 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 your paths straight.
There are a few words here that need to be highlighted. Understanding, all, ways, and path. Let’s take a closer look at each.
God made the world and everything in it. He understands how things work. God gives us instructions from this point of view. Like the master builder He is, God gives us the blueprint for a good life. Verse 4 tells us to not lean, or prop ourselves up against, our own understanding. The implication is that trusting God means that we prop ourselves against His understanding.
The verses does not tell us to acknowledge God in some of our ways. The writer said “all.” All means all. It doesn’t mean some. It doesn’t even mean most.
Our “ways” are the things we actually do. Are we trusting God enough to follow Him in ALL our ways? God’s instructions aren’t about God wanting to tell people what to do. Rather, that His understanding is so complete that He wants us to follow Him so that we have a better life. Let’s be clear, a better life does not necessarily mean a wealthier or even healthier life. What it does mean is a life that is consistent with God’s plan and purpose. Do we follow God’s instructions in ALL our ways? Have we limited our acknowledgement of God to the ways that seem to fit into His will and we just pretend He doesn’t exist the other times?
Every path has a destination. Every decision is a step down a path. We tend to think of individual decisions as isolated moments in time. However, what we can see, in hindsight, is that each decision is connected to the next. A decision is not a single step. It is a step down a path.
When we acknowledge God in all of our ways, His direction is automatically applied to our path. You are on a path. Are you trusting God to the point of walking in accordance with His instructions?
Trust God. This means all of His instructions in addition to all of His promises. Trust God’s promises. Also, learn His instructions. Pray for His guidance. Walk His path for your life. It will lead you to the best destination.
Trusting God is a spiritual matter, but it does not show up in our lives as only some kind of spiritual talk that we Christians like to engage in. If I really trust God, it will show up in what I do. It will show up in how I treat others. In fact, it will show up in the center of my life with everything else built around that.
I can absolutely trust God’s promises. I can also trust His instructions. I pray that He will help me to live in both His promises and His instructions.