Leaning on the Right Understanding

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 straight your paths.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Many of us are familiar with this often quoted passage. When we don't know what to do, or when things get hard, we can run back to this verse for comfort. But what does it mean? It's easy to go straight to the promise of this verse--he will direct your paths--while missing the exhortation leading up to it.

It's easy, isn't it? Trusting in the Lord takes work. It takes faith. It takes denying our natural tendency towards self-sufficiency and pride. Sometimes our estimation of our circumstances is quite good. We look around at what's expected of us, or what is going on in our life, and we sense our own competency. We lean on our own understanding. But other times the outlook is bleak. We have no idea how we are going to make it through the day before us. We are weak. We are faithless. In fear, we lean on our own understanding.

Lately, I've found myself leaning on my own understanding in a variety of ways. When I have a burst of energy, or am able to knock things off my to-do list, my chest swells with pride over what I can accomplish. Facing writing deadlines and toddler conversations with relative ease, some days feel more accomplished than others. On the days I come out ahead, I feel pretty good. But I rarely look to the Lord. Instead of trusting in the Lord for help, strength, and wisdom, I've found rest in what I can accomplish (or at least what I think I can accomplish). Other days feel not so accomplished. I still have writing deadlines and toddler conversations, but they lack passion, joy, or hardly happen at all. I write no words and am short with my kids. Looking at my own understanding, I feel defeated and hopeless wondering how I will make it through the hours that seem to inch slowly by.

This verse speaks to both the competent and the feeble, the weak and the strong. God is no less God if we get our to-do list accomplished or barely get out of bed. He is no less the one who acts on our behalf in moments of greatness and great humbling. Any semblance of accomplishment is only an illusion of our own glory. It all is pointing to him, the author of our good and bad times. We simply need eyes to see it, acknowledge his hand in it, and seek him in the next moment.

I'll be the first to admit. It's easier for me to seek him when the walls are closing in around me. But it's harder to trust that he's working in the midst of the difficulty. It's harder to trust him on the front end of the good times, but easier to see his hand when all is well.

I want faith to do both, to trust him at all times and always lean on his interpretation of my circumstances, not my own.

I have no idea what tomorrow holds for me. But I do know that before my feet hit the floor in the morning I pray I have the humility and the faith to seek him first.