A child gets into a car, gleefully enjoying the adventure of a trip somewhere. There is no concern about whether the car has enough fuel or if the traffic is congested. The child is oblivious to road conditions or mechanical issues with the vehicle. For each journey, the child trusts that the parent driving the car will bring them all safely to where they need to be. This confidence allows the child the freedom just to be and enjoy the ride.
In contrast, when I get in my car, there are a myriad of possible thoughts going through my head. What is the weather like today? Do I know the route I need to take to accomplish my goal? Is my fuel tank full enough? I can get very “me” oriented as I think about all that I need to do to get myself where I need to go. Even when I am on my way, I am monitoring road conditions and other drivers. I can’t easily let go and just trust that everything will be okay and I will easily get to my destination.
I realize, when I get so tense about things in life, that it is time to take to heart one of my most favourite verses in Scripture from Proverbs 3:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him,
and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
When I think of my life in light of these verses my perspective changes. Jesus says that we should be like little children when it comes to faith. This total trust is hard for us adults and Jesus knows that. I want to get into the car of life and drive in my own direction. I want to make sure that I have all I need and to take care of myself. Yet, these verses from Proverbs contradict all that.
Twice the word “all” is used in these verses. God doesn’t want part of my heart, He wants it all. That’s total dedication and commitment. He also wants me to trust Him in all things and give my life to Him to direct. This is not an easy task. My human nature wants to give some of my life over to God but I still hold back and want to control things myself. Questions like – Will I lose myself if I blindly trust the Lord to guide me? – occur for many of us.
These are not easy verses to digest. I can look at them with a very surface view and tell myself that life will be all wonderful if I only trust in God, but that is not what Scripture is saying here. What I need is childlike trust – knowing that the Lord has my path planned out if I am willing to follow it and Him.
How do I go about submitting to God in the way these verses direct? What can I do about my attitude to make submission to God’s will easier? The answer is not within myself. Only the Holy Spirit can direct me and lead me in the direction that God wants for my life. I can try all I want, but guaranteed I will fail. Believe me, I’ve tried. When I try to make my life into something or try to overcome a hurdle myself, things turn out messy.
A good example for me is in times of job loss or job insecurity. I want to plan things out and I don’t understand why God doesn’t follow through with what I think is a great solution. I apply for a particular job and think, this is the one and pray that God helps me land it. Instead, my prayer and energy direction are better served by letting go of my own plans and trusting that God will provide what I need when I need it.
That’s easy advice to give, but not so easy to take. At one time, my place of employment closed down and I had children to support. Desperately I sought another job but months went by and still nothing materialized. Daily I asked God, “What am I supposed to do? I want to work and care for my family. Why am I not allowed to do that?”
I grew a lot in those months. I learned to rely on God and over and over again He showed His mighty hand in my life, providing enough for my children and I to live. I remember with joy when my Bible study group came by with a monetary gift at Thanksgiving. It was just the amount I needed to get by at that time. Many times, God intervened like that. In my head it would have been simpler to just let me find a job and take care of things myself, but God wanted to show me that He is in control and that He will not abandon me.
Trust and hope are intertwined. It is surrendering myself totally to God and having the confidence that He has the best in store for me. He doesn’t promise an easy path but I have hope because I know I am not alone on that path.