Trust in the Lord with all of your heart…and He will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
Too often when we hear the verse quoted above, either in church or our personal devotions, we focus exclusively on the part about our paths being made straight–a promise that conjures up dreams of peace, love, joy, and success, usually defined according to our own wishes and ambitions. It is all too rare that we focus on the middle part of the verse, unquoted above, which reads as “…lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him…”.
The spiritual discipline of selfless trust, in which we rely not on ourselves but on a holy God in submission to his authority, is a challenging thing for believers to incorporate into their lives. Submission to the Lord, in all of our ways, usually calls us to do things we do not want to do, things we may consider unnatural since they go against our instincts, intuitions, or feelings. But in order to be set straight by a good God, we cannot lean on our own understanding of any given situation. We are called to trust.
Adam L. Mathis explores these difficult issues in his remarkable article “Selfless Trust,” the featured piece in the Summer edition of the Center for Theology. Adam demonstrates the difficulty in submitting to God’s plan for his kingdom by focusing on the story of Job, whose faith was tested after being handed over to Satan for persecution. Walking through the verse from Job 1:21, in which Job recognizes that God’s sovereignty means he is lord over both blessings and curses, Adam shows how real trust in God requires us to acknowledge God’s goodness and authority no matter our situation, since God is the lord and ruler over every situation. The Lord giveth, and he taketh away…but I will trust in the Lord.
One of the take-aways from Adam’s piece is that real trust is characterized by these attitudes:
1) Trust does not require or demand anything from God, but allows God to reign over his creation.
2) Trust acknowledges God in the good times and the bad times.
3) Trust recognizes that the “work of our hands” is ultimately a gift from God.
4) Trust refuses to believe God is working toward a despotic goal. Trust recognizes that God’s plan is good, no matter how our circumstances make us feel in the moment.
Adam, who is currently serving in Afghanistan as a public affairs specialist, is himself called to trust in Lord, trust that God is inaugurating his kingdom in way that brings glory to Himself.
Please take some time to read Adam’s profound reflection on the nature of faith.