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 and He will make your paths straight.

I think when I memorized this verse shortly after becoming a follower of Christ, I had a vision of the Lord and I, hand-in-hand, venturing higher and higher on some gradual and scenic trail. In the inevitable higher altitudes I would be at peace with the world, with no more cares than a flower in the field, more specifically a lilly, since I had also memorized Matt 6:28b.

This verse, coupled with Joshua 1:8 left me with the further impression that if I would continue to hide His word in my heart, that this path would proceed on a more or less direct course to prosperity and success. I liked this plan! if I would do this then the Lord would do that. I loved the idea of traveling hand in hand with “Peace” and “Success”. I was more than ready to jettison “Loneliness” and “Failure”, the outfitters of my previous life who had led me into a box canyon of misery. Yes, leaning on this understanding of the Christian life was going to make my journey an enjoyable and, I believed, a pretty manageable affair.

We have grandchildren now and they remind me how cute and clueless toddlers are. I am pretty sure the Lord was smiling down at me too as He saw me taking my first steps – imagining that this Christian life was going to be something I could actually manage by way of my understanding.

It was really kind of amazing how quickly the trail started to twist and turn but I was determined to not get lost by following any dead-end trails of sin or bad doctrine. I was loaded up with memorized scriptures and knew “in my knower” they would light my path onward to the high places. However, as I started traveling with a wife and kids and faced some vocational and financial challenges, everything started shifting. The terrain, the scenery and even the company changed on me. On this lap around the mountain, Peace and Success passed the baton to Sorrow and Suffering. What’s the deal! This is not at all working out according to my understanding! I can see with my own eyes, we are going in the opposite direction. The AMEN of my perpetually praying heart was replaced with an OMG!

The do not trust in your own understanding part of our passage probably made its first major contribution to my life as the Lord was removing (excuse me, “tearing”the myth from my heart that I could manage anything with understanding, however biblical accurate. Learning to place my trust in the Lord when things inside me and around me felt out of control and totally incomprehensible seemed to be the only path remaining for me. Honestly, it still is.

It would be enjoyable and I think valuable for us to reflect on our stories and tell each other about those times where we learned (or failed to learn) to trust in Him and acknowledge Him. I will recommend once again a favorite book of mine;  Hinds Feet on High Places. It, as well as any story, depicts the journey to the higher places in God. It has been particularly helpful in those seasons when the trail vanished or seemed impossibly steep or headed in the wrong direction.

The myth has now been replaced, at least to some degree, with an experience-based revelation that His life within me is a mystery far greater than my finite mind can lay hold of and in any way control. Literally, Christ is my life and His ongoing revelation of this reality has required that I experience life’s ups and downs and twists and turns with Him. These rugged elements of the trail have revealed the mysterious essence of my relationship with Him. Without them I would have been left to my delusions.

If I have learned anything it is that the abundant life is all about enjoying His company along the way, no matter what we encounter on the trail. It is really only through my rest in His love that I can entrust all my heart to Him. Christ alone (not my understanding of Him or the Bible) is my sufficiency. Our lives are like a glass orb inside where our spirit’s flame glows or dims as we respond to the trail conditions. We must walk carefully for we are being observed…..

Let you light shine before men in such a way that they see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Confession; I have not always enjoyed God’s company along the trail. Overtime, my OMG! subtly developed into bitterness – something that can nearly obliterate the view of a trail and even make a mockery of some supposed journey.

For the record, I am SO glad I memorized those scriptures and I am SO grateful for His Word! I am also more grateful than ever before for His Spirit who has breathed life into my stockpile of bible knowledge and connected at least a few of the dots.

Father, Thank you for being our good and capable Shepherd. May we see and acknowledge Your lovingkindness in the midst of our current circumstances. May we continue to learn how to prefer Your leadership over our own understanding. Amen.

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