They were the first verses from the Bible that I ever memorized. It happened because a wonderful Sunday School teacher named Eleanor Fowler thought it was a good idea for teenagers to memorize key passages of Scripture. But these treasured verses from the Bible became much more than just thoughts to commit to memory. They became pillar points in my spiritual journey, and have anchored me in some of the worst of storms that have come my way.
I often say in church that every person has faith – the only difference is the object and perhaps the intensity of that faith. The writer of these Proverbs urges us to put our full faith and trust in the one he calls "The Lord." The plea is accompanied by the intensity of this faith, as we're to trust "with all our hearts." He also warns us to beware of the alternative source of trust – our own insights and perspectives – that will so easily lead us astray. And he ends with a promise: when we trust the Lord with all our hearts and neglect the temptation to navigate life alone, then God will make our paths straight, and these paths will lead us on a wonderful journey. We are also to let love and faithfulness never leave us (v3), and we ought to be profoundly generous, which is the key to truly abundant living (v9,10).
Matthew 16:24-27 builds on this theme of trust as Jesus teaches us that following him involves self-denial, taking up one's cross and fixing our focus on soul care. We might gain the whole world, but if we neglect caring for our souls, we lose every time. As Dallas Willard says so brilliantly, "If your soul is healthy, no external circumstance can destroy your life. If your soul is unhealthy, no external circumstance can redeem your life." The best pathway to a healthy soul is to learn to trust God daily and deeply with all that comes across our way.
Is there something robbing you of God's peace today? Let's take time to talk to the Father, to reaffirm our deep dependence upon him, to embrace his path, and then allow him to do in our lives what only he can do.
Pastor Ian Trigg