As I write this blog, it is January 11, 2021. That date marks my dad’s birthday; he would have been 84 years old today had he lived. As Providence would order things, my daily Bible reading yesterday included Proverbs 3:5-6, which was Dad’s “life verse.” As a result, I’ve been mulling over this passage that he quoted often and always:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
Trust. That’s always the bottom line, isn’t it? We are to trust God with ALL our heart, meaning the totality and completeness of every part of life; but the truth is that we can never really make that kind of unequivocal surrender to anyone or anything without having a very deep level of trust. When I look up “trust” in the dictionary, all of the definitions include words like confidence, reliance, and certainty. Am I able to let go of the control that I tend to cling to so tightly in order to confidently and completely trust ALL to God?
Leaning on my own understanding is dangerous. As is all too evident today in the abundance of information assaulting our senses from every conceivable point of view, my grasp of the “facts” may be faulty or incomplete. My personal emotions and perceptions color everything I read and hear. My “understanding” can so easily lead me astray. There is no human being or institution in which we can place our complete reliance and confidence. But God’s Word is living, active, unchanging. He Himself IS Truth, and choosing to lean on Him utterly is the only safe option.
It also strikes me that another, and perhaps less obvious, outgrowth of trust is the development of humility. When the totality of my heart is given over to Another, the focus on self is removed. There is no longer a need or desire to defend my position, make a “good impression,” or worry over my lack of knowledge/abilities. When I am in a position of complete trust, I am no longer leaning on anything concerning myself; only on Him.
That is what it should look like, at any rate.
Dad displayed this kind of trust and humility throughout a lifetime of both blessing and hardship, his trust in God never wavering even in the midst of suffering. In the year before his death I would accompany him to various oncology-related appointments, and often the doctor would ask, “What do you do?”
Dad would invariably give the simple reply, “I fix vacuum cleaners.”
Now, my dad had a Master’s degree and spent many years as an educator. He left that field to start his own commercial cleaning business, employing hundreds of people over the course of 30 years and becoming a leader in civic and community activities. After his retirement he enjoyed keeping busy by going into the company office daily and helping out by puttering around in the workshop…fixing vacuum cleaners.
It frustrated me every time. I wanted to defend my dad before the doctors who often talked down to him; I wanted to tell them about all the accomplishments of my intelligent and capable father and see respect for him reflected in their eyes.
But through those medical visits, Dad was quietly and unconsciously teaching me some important lessons. He had no need to build himself up in the eyes of others or to assign value to himself in his own eyes. He had entrusted all to Jesus, and he was content to report the simple truth of what he did everyday:
“I fix vacuum cleaners.”
And as in everything else, he did it to the glory of God.
I honor my father’s memory on this, his birthday; but more importantly, I want to honor God by taking to heart and living out the lesson of Dad’s life verse.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding…
I think all of us could use a little more trust and humility these days. I know I sure can.
Trust God’s Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings and experiences. Remember, your Rock is Christ, and it is the sea that ebbs and flows with the tides, not Him.