PROVERBS - Adventure with Trust in God
By Pastor Delbert Young
Life Gate Ministries, February 28, 2010
204 North Main Street, LaFayette, GA 30728
Today, I want to talk about a crowning proverb, if not the crowning proverb of all Proverbs and all of wisdom. If we do this one, we will never be seduced by Whore Folly and always blessed by Lady Wisdom.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
This is a "high class" proverb. It summarizes and crowns them all.
I was a twenty-eight year old man when I made the decision to become a Christian. I like most, toyed with just how seriously and how far I would take my new "faith" decision. I didn't do it flippantly. I thought long and hard. I even went to church for several weeks and hung out with the pastor some before I made the decision to cross the line. Now what? Obviously, I would attend church some. I would give a little money. I would read a little Bible. I would pray some. That was the least I could do to show my thankfulness for God's love and forgiveness toward me. But, I was also eyeballing others in their new faith and they were diving in. I watched their lives actually altering. Their families were changing. Their money management was changing. Even their careers were affected. I thought, "Wow, that's pretty extreme." So, I was wading through this, deciding how much I was going to allow my faith to affect my life. I was learning and reading God's word and listening to some teachings that challenged me. Here is the summation: It was a challenge to put my whole life - everything - in God's hands. Trust him fully. Make every decision according to his ways and wisdom. Do this until it/He proved to be untrustworthy and at that point get out. But, until that point, give God a full chance and opportunity to lead my life and prove trustworthy. It was let God have a chance.
There was something intriguing about that challenge. I didn't see a lot I had to lose if it didn't work. I was already fairly successful for my age, but not happy with my life anyway. I figured I wouldn't lose any success. If this worked, I might have more. Who knows? I might find happiness. It might be interesting to see what God could do with my life. What might he want me to do? Where might he want me to go? What might he want me to become? What if God really did have extraordinary plans for me like the Bible said he did? What if God really had a plan to bless me? What if all those plans were being offered to me and I didn't take the challenge to trust God with all my heart? So, you know what, I began to wade in.
Before we end our time together today, I'm going to challenge you with the same thing. I'm going to challenge you to trust the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, acknowledge him and see if he will make your life straight and good. I will challenge you to do it until he proves himself untrustworthy. So, let's work through the verse and see what that means.
Proverbs 3:5 TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART...
What does that really mean TO YOU? We studied what the heart means, so trust in the Lord is a guard at your heart fighting off doubt from entering your new heart and polluting the river of your life (Pro 4:23).
Think back to when you first met someone you totally trust. Perhaps it's your spouse or best friend. Subconsciously you began to keep track of how trustworthy that person truly is. You engaged with the person. Eventually, you took risks sharing life and made commitments. You took mental notes with each encounter allowing them past the guard at your heart to wade deeper and deeper into your river of life. Today, you can look at the river of your life and see they are in your future, your present, and your past. Obviously, the person tested out trustworthy and today you totally trust them with all your heart.
My point is this: in every relationship, there is an engagement, risk, and commitment to be made. You wade in. Over a series of engagements, risks, and commitments you develop trust. Finally you trust with all your heart.
It's that way with trust in the Lord. IT REQUIRES YOU TO ENGAGE. It requires you to take RISKS. It requires you to make COMMITMENTS. You can't say you trust in the Lord with all your heart unless you have engaged, taken risks, and made commitments which allowed him to prove trustworthy TO YOU. Your trust can't be based on my trust. You must engage, risk, and make commitments yourself.
Most of you call yourselves Christ Believers. Many people do, but how many people trust in the Lord with all their heart? You are monitoring it. Some of you've been monitoring it for decades. You want to wade deeper, but you're sort of comfortable and complacent where you are. You know there is something to this Christian thing. You know God is inviting you to wade deeper, but you just can't take the risks, or make the commitment to go deeper and trust with ALL YOUR HEART. God is challenging you today to take some little steps deeper and allow him to show you that you can trust him every single step of the way.
For some of you, your next step may be to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior trusting him with your eternity. For others, your next step may be to trust him with your marriage. Others may need to trust him with an occupational change, or your children. Others may need to trust him with your finances and tithes and offerings. Others may need to trust him to free you from addictions. Whatever your next little step might be, you can't say you trust the Lord with all your heart when you don't.
Well, Delbert, what if I take that step and it doesn't work. THEN BAIL. If it doesn't work then God's not trustworthy. Lean back to your old ways. How's that working out for you anyway? Listen, you can't lose. There's only one way to find out. Take the step. HERE'S A COOL THOUGHT. WHAT IF IT DOES WORK? What if you have gone all these years missing what God had for you when all you needed to do was take a step deeper? Let's read on.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING...
"And" is a conjunction hooking the first part with the next part. The Hebrew word for lean is sha`an meaning to support ones self. As we are seeing, the book of Proverbs is about two paths in life: the path of life and Lady Wisdom and the path of ruin and Whore Folly. We each lean - support ones self - with one path or with the other path. We lean on our own understanding or we lean on God's understanding. There is a reflex human reaction way we take for complex human situations and there is God's way for handling complex human situations. Human reflex is limited. We can't see it all. God's way is not limited, does see it all and always works out best for everyone. We all come to these intersections in life where we must make a choice. Are we going to lean this way or lean that way? The way we "lean" is the way we will go.
I will be sixty-two years old this September. I know. I can't even believe it. That doesn't even sound correct to me. My point is I can honestly say I am more fully convinced of the trustworthiness of God today than I have ever been. When I look at the past years of my life, I do not regret one single time I leaned into God's path. Sometimes it was difficult and confusing to me, but it always worked out exactly as he said it would. HOWEVER, EVERY REGRET I HAVE ABOUT LIFE IS WHEN I LEANED TO MY UNDERSTANDING. You, if honest, could say the same thing. I won't talk about the dumb things I've done and crazy things that happened because I leaned my way, but I look at the pain I suffered and caused others. I look at the life I lost. I look at the guilt I carry and I say, "How dumb I was." It's only been when I leaned God's way I shined. It's when I trusted the Lord with all my heart and LEANED NOT to my understanding I appeared brilliant. It was then I was the husband I want to be, the father I need to be, the friend you want me to be, the pastor I say I am, and the man of God Jesus called me to be. I am convinced I can trust the Lord concerning ANYTHING. That's not a preacher talking. That's life saying it.
I was anchored fishing off the coast of Panama City Beach this past summer. I watched as a thunder head developed between me and the shore and began moving toward me. Storms at sea are not fun. I don't mind rain, but lightning is frightening on the ocean. I pulled anchor and began moving, I thought, out from shore. The storm developed quickly and I found myself in heavy rain. The seas were not that rough, but I couldn't see very far and I wanted to get away from the lightening which meant head south out to sea, but when I looked at my instrument panel, it said I was heading north into the thunder head. It didn't feel like I was heading north. I've boated for years and been in heavy weather many times. I felt I was heading south, but my instruments said I was moving north into the lightning and thunder. I couldn't see. I had to make a decision. Everything in me wanted to lean to my own understanding. I could, or I could trust my instruments. I leaned trusting my instruments and turned the boat, but still not "feeling" it was the correct direction. Shortly after the turn, I looked behind me and saw a lightning bolt shoot into the water, heard it crack, and quaking thunder. I made the correct decision and not long afterwards, I came out of the rain to clear skies and calm seas leaving the lightning and storm behind.
When we get into complex situations of life, we can't see. We get disoriented. There's lighting and thunder and rain. We certainly don't want to head into more storms. We may "feel" we are doing the correct thing and heading the correct direction, but the only way to know for certain is to trust what you know works - God's word and God's ways. When it comes down to major decisions of life, we need more than our limited reflex reactions. We need God and his wisdom. Each time we do, we will look back and see had we leaned to our own understanding, we would have headed into more storms, more rain, and more lightning. Let's read more.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; IN ALL YOUR WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM...
What does that mean? Honestly, we all have "ways," or areas where we would prefer to keep God out. If we do, we will impair our life and the lives of those around us. Maybe it's an addiction, or your money, or your occupation, or your relationships, whatever. We say, "I'll give you all this, but this "way" I'm going to keep for myself. I know what wisdom says, but I will handle this one myself." We are actually saying, "I can manage this one way better than God." Realize, when you look at people who failed, they usually didn't fail in everything. They failed in one area and that is the area in which they kept God out. How many torpedoes does it take to sink a ship? How many lightening bolts does it take to take you out?
Let me save you some pain. You can learn it the hard way, or learn what I and others have learned. Just do it God's way to begin with. In ALL YOUR WAYS acknowledge him. There's more
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, AND HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT.
He will make your life good. He will straighten out the crooked crazy things. He will take care of you. He will give your life correct direction, purpose, and meaning. We all know people whose lives seems meaningless. God says if you will trust me, do it ALL my way, I will make your life meaningful. That's not a bad promise.
I look back when I was twenty-eight and wrestling with wading into God and trusting him with my life. I look at all I would have missed had I managed my life and not trusted him. I would have missed you. There's no telling how my family would have come out, or my children. I would have missed doing the thing in life that separates me from anyone else I know. I would have missed the greatest adventure of my life. Now, here today, I'm half done with my life (that means I'll live to be 124). For the second half, I'm going to find ways I haven't acknowledged him and I'm going to trust in the Lord.
You only have from this day to the last day of your life. You can trust your reflex reaction and you may come out okay, but you don't know what you will miss! And, friend, I promise you this: You will miss something and probably the greatest adventure of your life. You will never know what God had in store for you and planned for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the PLANS I have for you," declares the LORD, "PLANS to prosper you and not to harm you, PLANS to give you hope and a FUTURE.
God has many good plans for you. The Lord has plans for your personal fulfillment and adventure. Plans to prosper you. Plans to keep you hopeful and enjoying your future. There's an adventure with your name on it. Either you will trust the Lord and allow him to direct you there, or you won't. It comes down to a decision of trust. Are you willing to trust the Lord today and see if he will show himself trustworthy to you? The only way you will ever know is to engage with him, take risks, and make commitments to him.
Where are you in this today? Is it a first step to receive Jesus as Lord today? Is your next step a step to give him an addiction? How about some of you trusting him with your money? Some need to trust him with your marriage? Some have relationships you know are not good and you need to trust God to replace that relationship. Maybe you need to trust him with your occupation. With what is the Lord asking you to trust him? Take the next step.