The Very First Verse

TrustInTheLord

I was a sophomore in college.  Without a major.  Lacking direction.

Desperate for guidance, I opened my Bible and stumbled upon Proverbs 3:5-6.  As a relatively new believer, this was the first verse I ever really believed and took to heart.  I even put it to music on my guitar.  Although the tune and chords have faded from my memory, His words remain:

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 your paths straight.*

In times of uncertainty we seek comfort in the familiar.  So today I returned to Proverbs 3 to enjoy the company of this old friend.  Bible commentators guided me, verse by verse, as I meditated upon its meaning.  I’ll let their words–and His words–speak for themselves.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart…

The Hebrew word for “trust,” batakh, means “to cling to…to confide in, to set one’s hope and confidence upon.” (Pulpit Commentary)

“We must trust in the Lord with all our hearts, believing he is able and wise to do what is best.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

And do not lean on your own understanding…

“Those who know themselves, find their own understandings a broken reed, which, if they lean upon, will fail.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

“The admonition does not mean that we are not to use our own understanding…i.e. form plans with discretion, and employ legitimate means in the pursuit of our ends; but that, when we use it, we are to depend upon God and his directing and overruling providence.” (Pulpit Commentary)

In all your ways acknowledge Him…

“The Hebrew verb yada signifies “to know, recognize.”  To acknowledge God is, therefore, to recognize, in all our dealings and undertakings, God’s overruling providence…” (Pulpit Commentary)

“Begin, continue, and end every work, purpose, and device, with God.  Earnestly pray for his direction at the commencement; look for his continual support in the progress; and so begin and continue that all may terminate in his glory…” (Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)

And He will make your paths straight…

“The pronoun v’hu is emphatic, “he himself”  God here binds himself by a covenant.” (Pulpit Commentary)  (Wow.)

The New King James Version puts it like this:  “And He shall direct your paths.”  The word “direct” literally means to “make plain.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

I love the simplicity of the New Living Translation:  “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Such rich insights!  Like time spent with a treasured friend, I left my study of Proverbs 3:5-6 feeling refreshed, encouraged, and inspired.

I can still picture that young college girl, guitar in hand, as she clung to this promise, and to the Lord, for the very first time.  He was faithful to guide her then.  He can be trusted to guide us now.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Amplified Version)

*The New American Standard Version

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What’s Next?

I like to talk to God out loud when I’m alone in the car.  I’m sure it looks strange.  I try not to care what the other drivers around me think.

Last Friday I had a lunch date in Colorado with a good friend.  I always look forward to our annual “Christmas Catch-up.”  I also looked forward to my “date” with the Lord on the way there and back.  As I merged onto the southbound lane of I-25, I began sharing my heart with Him in prayer.

I was feeling burdened by an important decision affecting our family, wondering what was next.  I asked God to guide us and show us His will.  As I prayed, the Holy Spirit brought to mind several truths.  While I still don’t know the outcome of this particular situation, here is what I DO know…

1)  HE knows.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

We may not know the future, but we know the One who does.  Even though the path before us is unclear, He knows exactly what waits around the bend.  This brings welcome peace in the midst of uncertainty.

2)  I can “Do the next thing.”

Years ago I was privileged to attend a conference where author and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot spoke.  She shared how overwhelmed she felt upon returning to the mission field following her husband’s death. This phrase helped guide her:

When you don’t know what to do next, simply do the next thing.”

Continuing down the highway, I recalled her words.  I could see my “next thing” clearly, a conversation that needed to take place.  I would try and make that happen.

Then the Lord reminded me of this verse:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, NAS)

I’ve always pictured Ephesians 2:10 something like this:

footprintssnow

God has gone before us.  The good works He has lovingly prepared and uniquely equipped each of us to do stretch out before us, like footprints in the snow.  Our job is simply to place our foot in the imprint of His, one step at a time.  Sometimes blowing snow obscures the trail.   But if we sit tight our view will eventually clear.

Are you faced with a difficult decision or a challenging situation?  Rest in the fact that God has prepared the way and knows the outcome.  Can you see your next step?  Then take it.  Just do the next thing.  Step by step, you’ll get to where you need to be.

It’s a new year, full of possibilities and unknowns.  Our future is known and planned by our heavenly Father.  He will faithfully guide us, each step of the way.

(For an in-depth study of Jeremiah 29:11, check this out:  http://shelleylloydsmith.com/?p=1209 )

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