A Trip Through Proverbs – #6 – In God We Trust

In_God_We_TrustIf you’re here in the US, pull out your wallet or open up your change purse and take a look at any money you may have in there. On there will be the words “In God We Trust.” It means many things here in the US. But let’s look at what we find in Proverbs 3, our next stop in our Trip Through Proverbs.

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 direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5,6

Every day, we are faced with decisions to make as we move through life. Some are simple (what should we have for dinner?), others can be life changing (Should I take that new job? Should we buy that house?) Usually as Christians we make the effort to find God’s will about those big life changing decisions we face. I say usually, because often we may make an effort to pray, but it seems more out of duty and not of a sincere need to find the path that God wants us to travel. We can go through the motions of asking what God wants us to do, but I’m not sure we always want to hear the answer, because we’re fearful it will disagree what we want the answer to be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Trusting in God in all things is an easy thing to say we do, but in reality it’s much more difficult to actually do. We may not like the answer that God gives us. He may tell us to stay in a job we dislike, because He still has some work for us to do there. Or he may tell us to go on mission, usually taking us out of our comfort zone into places we would least expect or like to go. But we are to trust that he knows best, has a better plan than we could ever come up with, one that we couldn’t even fathom how it reaches beyond what we know. Our job is simply to trust.

Do not depend on your own understanding

We aren’t to try to figure out why God wants us to do what he has asked. We will never completely understand, we will not comprehend the big picture. God sees for all eternity and how each of our actions plays out. We see only in the here and now. What we feel may be the correct course of action, may be the complete opposite of what God wants. And while we are in no danger of spoiling God’s grand plan, we have the potential of missing out on God’s blessing if we try to go our own way.

Seek his will in all you do

So we are trusting in God completely. Not trying to reason out the best course of action for ourselves. So what do we do. Well we seek his will. Not just in the big things, but in all things. Don’t just come to God when we have a major life changing decision, but ask him what we should have for dinner. He does care. Plus because we don’t see the big picture like God does, perhaps our choice of dinner will put is in a place where we are meant to be.

And he will direct our paths

Just yesterday, my wife says somewhat out of the blue, “Let’s go see if we can find any garage sales.” So off we go, into the 90 degree heat and see what we can find. The direction we went, was probably a poor choice for selections of garage sales, but finally we came across a sign that lead us into a dead-end street that curved up and around into wooded areas. We travel for awhile, wondering if we would ever find the location and just as we were about to turn around thinking someone had just left an old sign at the end of the road, we see a small sign at the end of a driveway. We stop, look towards the garage and still wonder if this is the right place as it seems empty. We get out of the car and walk up and sure enough, there is a couple tables setup in the garage, filled with a few trinkets. A man in his 60s sits in the back of the garage working on a crossword puzzle, seemingly disinterested in us. We browse the tables and actually find a few things that we want to purchase. Taking our selections up, we pay the man and begin to walk away.

As we left the garage, I see the man rise and walk our way as he begins to make small talk with us. My wife and I got the sense that he was just a lonely man that needed someone to talk with so we stopped and chatted for a bit. We come to find out that he had recently lost his job and was currently having financial issues which if not corrected soon, he would lose his home. As we talked, it turns out that I may actually be able to help him find a job and hopefully get him and his family back on their feet financially. As we were leaving, he walked us out to our car and said that his church had been praying for him for six months and he felt I was an answer to their prayers for him.

Well that’s yet to be seen if I can really help him or not. Each day though, I wake up and try to fix in my mind that I want to follow God’s promptings for the day. I want to see where the opportunities may be that he is putting in front of us. There were a lot of steps and decisions that had to be made at just the right time for me to walk in that man’s garage that morning. But by seeking his will and trusting that he has complete understanding so I don’t have to, he guided me to exactly where I needed to be for myself, my wife and this man we met.

I’m a firm believer that God has a purpose for each of our steps, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Each of those seemingly small decisions and steps can have far-reaching impacts that may take years to come to light. If we fully trust God and not our own understanding and truly seek out his will in even the small things, he will guide our path. That sounds pretty amazing if you ask me.

Just Do it!

I’ve been trying to do everything other than write this post. Why? It’s not a great revealing post nor one that I will reveal a great sin. This post is nothing more than a statement of what I feel God is calling me to do. And by putting it down on virtual paper, it feels more real, more ‘official’ if you will. Something that know that it’s down on paper and out of my head, I have nothing left but to take action on it.

Why do I struggle even putting this out there? I’ve been looking for this for a long time. I’ve written many posts here about seeking God’s will and purpose for my life. I’ve spent a few years now seeking and waiting. I don’t want this to be just another one of those posts of “This is what I will or should do” and then never take action and a year from now I’m back looking for my purpose.

So that’s why I struggle. If I write it down, I will need to take action upon it. Two things happened recently that triggered this post (despite me writing different posts first in a unconscious attempt to avoid this one).

First, I’m just browsing around Facebook and stumble upon a person with whom I not even friends with on there. He is on a long journey across America seeking out the homeless, the down-trodden and helping where he can. That could be as simple as buying a meal, paying for a hotel room, or simply just a good conversation. Despite his own sinful nature, he is making an impact on people’s lives and planting the seed of Christ in many. Some of the stories I read, touched me in the few minutes I spent. I felt God asking very clearly, “How have you helped people lately?”

As I went to bed last night, still thinking about those stories I read and trying to contemplate what God is telling me, I do what I do most nights, I lay down to do a little reading before turning out the lights. Currently I’m reading a book (restarting it actually) by John Maxwell called The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. As I’m reading through the first chapter , called “The Law of Intentionality” it strikes me how I still can’t take my mind off the stories I had just read on Facebook.

This chapter is sub-titled “Growth Doesn’t Just Happen.” It talks about how you have to be intentional about personal growth. You can’t just sit back and wait for growth to happen. You can’t just say “I’ll do it tomorrow.” You know how easy it is to put off things. I’m a natural procrastinator…if I can wait to do something until later, I probably will.

As I read through to the end of the chapter, one thing stood out to me…the call to “Just do it now!” Start now. Schedule time in your day if you have to. Put it on your calendar. Whatever you have to do, just do it and do it now! Maxwell pulled this quote by Jennifer Reed in the April 19, 2011 issue of SUCCESS magazine;

Can there be a more insidious word? Later, as in “I’ll do it later.” Or, “Later, I’ll have time to write that book that’s been on my mind for the past five years.” Or, “I know I need to straighten out my finances…I’ll do it later.”

“Later” is one of those dream-killers, one of the countless obstacles we put up to derail our changes of success. The diet that starts “tomorrow,” the job hunt that happens “eventually,” the pursuit of the life dream that begins “someday” combine with other self-imposed roadblocks and lock us on autopilot.

Why do we do this to ourselves anyway? Why don’t we take action now? Let’s face it: The familiar is easy; the uncharted path is lined with uncertainties.

What a statement of my life. I seem to be waiting for stuff to happen. Meanwhile, the world keeps turning, lives go on and opportunities that God has put before me pass me by.

Dose of real life

Then not too long after, I received news that a young man of just 20 years old was killed in a motorcycle accident. This young man, whom I had coached in baseball and was friends with my daughter, in fact they even went on a date or two a few years back, had everything headed in the right direction for him. He was a good kid. He was studying to be a nurse and was on the path to graduating, being married soon and making a difference in many people’s lives.

However, in just an instance, his life ended. A senseless tragedy to be sure. But what was remarkable was how our small mid-western community gathered around the family and each other to comfort each other on the loss of this fine young man. God used this tragedy for good. It doesn’t necessarily take the sting from the loss, but we know that God can use a bad situation for His glory.

So what came out of this tragedy? Well to start, we know now that a community can rally around a family in the midst of their suffering. But also, on a more tangible note, a scholarship has been setup for graduating students at our local high school for students entering into nursing.

The world keeps turning, lives will go on, but this opportunity to take a tragedy and create something helpful out of it was not missed by the community. He will forever be remembered through this scholarship and the good that it does for others.

How do I start?

So how do I begin? Well I still don’t really have that answer. But what did I just learn? Just do it and do it now! My inclination is to wait until God has showed it all to me. But by then, it could be too late. I feel God calling me to step out in faith, even a small step, but step nonetheless into faith that God will guide my path. My Facebook friend may have had only a vague sense of direction and places he wanted to travel. But, he let’s the road take him where it takes him and be on the lookout for the God appointed opportunities that cross his path.

This post is putting me on notice. God I feel calls us to be more than just ‘good’ people. God calls us to so much more;

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:11-12

God is calling us to take action, to just do it. I will find ways, even small ones, to step out in faith each day. I will pay attention to the life that God presents to me every moment, the opportunities to help someone in need, to smile at someone or just to listen to a broken heart. I will resist the temptation to ignore those that I may percieve as more “troubled” as me. I will resist the urge to strike out at those that ridicule me, try to deter me or tear me down. I will make a point each day to do one more thing towards the growth of God’s kingdom. God doesn’t need me, but he wants to use me so why wouldn’t I want to be part of his work.