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 direct your paths.“ (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Several years ago around Christmas time several of my good high school buddies and I got back together and went riding at one of our local resorts called 49 Degrees North. I remember riding the chairlift and talking about life with my friend Nick Sackman (you probably know him). We were both in a position where we were working jobs that we didn’t like and we were frustrated about that and with life in general. We talked about how we didn’t understand what God was doing or where He was taking us. We talked about wanting to quit our jobs and do stuff that we were passionate about (shred ministry) but we didn’t see how that was a possibility.
If you’ve been a human for very long you probably know that a lot of life is like this. Things don’t go the way we plan them, life doesn’t happen according to our script. We lose jobs, we don’t get jobs, we lose relationships, we get bad grades, our cars break down, we don’t know what to do, where we should go, or where to live. How’s a dude (or dudett!) to figure it all out?
I recently read an article called “The Insanity of Leaning on Our Own Understanding.” In the article the author says this:
“We’re told not to lean on our ‘own understanding,’ meaning conclusions based primarily on our own perceptions, because our own understanding simply will not bear the full weight of reality. It was never intended to.”
Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden. The one tree in the garden that humans were forbidden to eat from was not, interestingly, the tree of life (Genesis 2:9). It was not life that God denied human beings. He forbade them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).The point of this prohibition was not to keep humans ignorant but, as John Piper says, “to preserve [for us] the pleasures of the world.” It was as if God was saying,
If you eat of that tree you will be saying to me, “I’m smarter than you. I am more authoritative than you. I am wiser than you are. I think I can care for myself better than you care for me. You are not a very good Father. And so I am going to reject you.” So don’t eat from the tree, because you will be rejecting me and all my good gifts and all my wisdom and all my care. Instead, keep on submitting to my will. Keep on affirming my wisdom. Keep on being thankful for my generosity. Keep on trusting me as a Father and keep on eating from these other trees as a way of enjoying me.
You see, in order to handle the knowledge of good and evil, one must possess
- the ability to completely comprehend all possible options and contingencies (omniscience)
- the righteousness and wisdom to choose the right course
- the power to make reality conform to the right course (omnipotence)
In other words, only God can handle such knowledge.
What this means is that it is not the one who trusts in the Lord that is irrational, but the one who leans on his or her own understanding. It is insane to trust such pitifully limited understanding when one can trust the unlimited understanding of God.
So many of the things that cause us the most difficulty and heartache in life, the source of so much of our anxiety, fear, doubt, and anger with others and with God, is the result of leaning on our own understanding.
God does not want us to be miserable, even in this fallen, futility-infected evil age. He wants to relieve our anxiety (Luke 12:12; Philippians 4:6–7), fear (Psalm 118:6; 1 Peter 3:6), doubt (Matthew 21:21; Luke 24:38), and sinful anger (Ephesians 4:31). And so he gives us Proverbs 3:5–6 as a priceless gift.
In exercising faith — trusting fully in the Lord and not leaning on our own understanding — we’re not setting aside our intellect. We’re resting our intellect upon the intellect of God. Nothing is wiser or saner. To do so is to allow him to direct our paths, which not only lead to ultimate joy, but also make the journey itself, even when laden with sorrow, joyful (2 Corinthians 6:10). And it preserves for us all the pleasures God provides us in the world. To not do this is the height of foolishness and the path to misery.
So let us choose joy today by not leaning on our own understanding but in sweet, childlike trust on the sure foundation of our loving Creator’s omniscience.”
Less than a year after that chairlift conversation, the Lord led Nick to quit his job, pack up his wife and dog, move to Colorado, and do full time shred ministry with SFC. Through God’s leading I also quit my job and started working at my local ski resort pursuing full time shred ministry. There isn’t enough time to tell that whole story, but the whole process was one of leaning on Jesus and trusting in Him, as it was one of the most uncertain times of my life. Whenever I leaned on my own understanding, fear, stress, and anxiety would creep into my life. When I put my trust in God I had peace that He would provide for me and lead me.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Streams in The Desert by L.B Cowman.
“Trust… sees and feels, and leans upon a person, a great, true, living heart of love. So let us trust in Him, through all the delays, in spite of all the difficulties, in the face of all the denials, notwithstanding all the seemings, even when we cannot understand the way, and know not the issue; still “trust also in him, and He will bring it to pass.” The way will open, the right issue will come, the end will be peace, the cloud will be lifted, and the light of an eternal noonday will shine at last.”
No matter where you are in life God wants you to follow and trust in Him, even when it doesn’t make sense to our own understanding. The Bible is filled with people who doubted, struggled with, or flat out didn’t want to do what God wanted them to. They questioned, argued with, and sometimes ran away from God, but in the end, God’s way was always better. The same is true in our lives. Following Jesus isn’t easy, but it’s always better. Just think, in the book of Psalms it says that God created your inmost being, God literally knows you better than you know yourself. He wants you to follow, and Trust in Him.
Has there ever been a time when you’ve had to trust in God and he’s come through?
What areas of your life do you need to trust to God?
Spend some time in prayer this week surrendering and trusting those areas and things to God.
By Phil Schulz | Spokane, WA