Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 NIV
We are in the middle of a sermon series on I Timothy at church. Today, our pastor challenged us a bit to examine where we are in our faith. How is it going….really? Are there areas of our life where our heart is prone to turn away from Christ and pursue success or comfort from other sources? He spent a significant amount of the sermon driving home the point that a life of faith should push us to places that are uncomfortable and cause us to rely on God. By contrast, our natural tendencies are to create worlds that are self-serving and cater to our own comfort, desires, and success. It was convicting, to say the least.
At the end of service, I picked my three (almost four, he would tell you) year old son up from Sunday School and he said, “Mommy! I have a memory verse! ‘Trust the Lord with all your heart. Proverbs 3:5!’” (Just change the ‘v’ sounds to ‘b’ sounds and the ‘L’ to a ‘Y’ and you’ll get a glimpse of how precious it was. If there is anything sweeter than a child reciting a Bible verse, I’m not sure what it is.)
He continued repeating his memory verse throughout the day and even “taught” it to me. All day long those eight simple words have been floating around our house and my head until suddenly it hit me. If my faith is faltering in an area, it’s because I am not trusting God. I mean, it sounds so elementary, but for precisely that reason I find myself prone to wander from the truth that God can be trusted, and I do not need to look to other things for safety or security. The areas of my life that my pastor was referring to – the ones that are not fully yielded to Christ – are yanking me away from trusting the Lord with my whole heart.
Perhaps you know the second part of the verse? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Prov 3:5 NIV, emphasis mine) How much worry, stress, angst, and sin have been caused by turning to my own limited understanding of how life works, rather than trusting the Lord? I’ll give you a hint: All of it! And yet again and again, I find myself pulled toward putting my hope in the temporary things of the world and forgetting (or choosing to forget) that Jesus is still on the Throne, that He is in control, and He can be trusted.
Our motivations for wandering may be different; mine is pain-avoidance. As C.S. Lewis said, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”* That exact thought is where I often camp out. Instead of yielding to Jesus even in that emotion though, it sometimes becomes my motivation to grasp at the flaky things of earth because what if what God has planned shakes up my comfort and security? I often struggle to trust that it would still be better and most definitely worth following Christ even when I don’t understand or get my own way.
You may have a different root cause that turns you away from trusting God with your whole heart. A desire for monetary success, a desire to prove yourself to your parents, a desire to fit in, and the list could go on. Whatever it is, I offer you the same challenge this week that our pastor gave us. Let’s take some time examining our hearts. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us how we are compartmentalizing our Christian life. In what areas are you doing well? Why do you find it easier to trust God in those things? On the flip side, where do you habitually struggle? What drives you to seek your own way in those areas? It may not be comfortable to walk through this exercise, but it is crucial that we understand our hearts so we are able to bring them back under the control of Jesus. Oh what He can do with hearts submitted to Him! Let’s not miss out on that by clinging to the temporal. Love to you, friends!