One of the fruits of Lenten observance for me has been to expose the practical realities of who or what I am trusting. A familiar passage helped me recently to reflect on this for this year’s Lenten journey.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
And he will show you which path to take.
First, I see that the first three lines are counsel for me to follow, while the fourth line is the fruit of my following it. Honestly, though, I am much more tempted to seek insight into the path I should take. When I’m faced with uncertainty about the way forward, I want guidance. I’m tempted to seek first His guidance and His direction rather than His kingdom and His righteousness. The urgency of needed direction seems to blur for me the centrality of simple focus on and trust in God alone. I tend to trust more in how well I understand my life and circumstances more than I trust in God’s overarching knowledge and reign. and he will show you which path to take. And he will show you which path to take.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. We begin with faith, with dependence, with trust. We are invited to trust the Lord and entrust ourselves to Him. There is a confidence we’re invited to embrace in the light of the Lord’s great faithfulness. Trust isn’t so much a posture I whip up within me, but a response to a vision of just how trustworthy the Lord really is.
Do not depend on your own understanding. This is the backside of the counsel to trust. Trust the Lord. Don’t trust your own understanding. In seeking to manage my life and make my way forward, I’m tempted to limit myself to what I think I can comprehend and grasp on my own. When I’m not sure about the path ahead, I want God to give me clarity. Instead, He invites me to deeper trust in Him, less dependence on my own perception or perspective. Trusting in the Lord often feels like walking with a flashlight that shows me only enough to see my next few steps. In this place, I don’t feel I understand nearly as much as I prefer.
Seek his will in all you do. Am I learning to relinquish my own preferences, purposes and pleasures so as to seek His? Can I look ahead with sufficient holy indifference to my own will so as to discern His more clearly? What would it look like in this season to seek His reign and His way first?
And he will show you which path to take. When I am living my life in trusting communion with the Lord, learning to depend less on my independent grasp of things, seeking God’s purpose and pleasure over my own limited vision of what would be best, this is the place where I can become confident that I’ll find a good way forward in my life and work.
Where are you hungry and hoping for guidance in your life, your relationships, your vocation these days?
What might it look like to seek the Lord first rather than to seek the Lord’s guidance first?
Alan Fadling serves as Executive Director of The Leadership Institute in Orange, CA, training Christian leaders to integrate spiritual formation and leadership development. He serves as a frequent speaker and consultant and is the author of An Unhurried Life (IVP, 2013). He is a certified spiritual director living in Mission Viejo, California, with his wife Gem, and their three sons.