We live in a culture that thrives on making decisions based on what we understand, or what looks good to the natural eye. If it pays more, it’s obviously the best job choice. If they have a great personality and interests like ours, then they must be the mate for us. If the church is the biggest and trendiest, then it must be the one to attend. The “feel” and the “look” of it have everything to do with our decision-making.
Sadly, we forget that God has an opinion of His own concerning our choices. Many situations “look” good, but God with His all-knowing nature, sees things we don’t. That job with the best paycheck might look great, but He knows that within a year we will be laid off. That man or woman we think is so wonderful may have some character issues that God sees and we don’t. The church that seems to have it all together may have some values or doctrine that is very displeasing to God. Would we know this just by what we see? No, only God knows what is done in secret, or knows what the future holds.
This is why Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
As we well know, depending on our own brains can get us into trouble. We just can’t see it all like God can. We don’t know what’s best for us in the long run. Our ability to see into the future and decipher situations and options is limited. Our challenge is to humble ourselves and admit that we don’t know it all – that we can’t make a wise decision on our own – in anything.
Once we’ve decided we can’t trust ourselves, we need to learn to trust the One who does know it all. This means trusting in Someone we cannot see, touch, or feel. This is faith. As trying as it is on our flesh, it’s necessary. God doesn’t operate any other way. We’re to trust Him enough to not just admit that He knows more, but enough that we’re willing to do whatever He tells us to do.
A great example of faith and obedience is the story of Jesus turning water into wine in John 2. A wedding was underway, and they had run out of wine. Wise as she was, Mary told the people at the wedding to do whatever Jesus told them to do (v. 5). Jesus told them to pour pure water into the water pots. Logically, this didn’t make sense. To Jesus, however, it made perfect sense because He wasn’t thinking in terms of the world. He was thinking in terms of the miraculous. Sure enough, the water turned into wine and everyone was astounded.
Consider, though, if they had rejected Jesus’ advice simply because it didn’t make sense. It wasn’t naturally possible for water to turn into wine without some grapes being involved. Had they “leaned on their own understanding,” no miracle would have taken place. They’re story would have never made it into the Bible because they didn’t trust, and therefore did not act.
Another great story is of the disciples fishing all night without catching one fish in Luke 5. Jesus got into their boat and told them to cast out their nets once more. Peter responded, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net” (v. 5). They cast out the net . . . and their catch was so great that they had to call for another boat.
Again, had they scoffed at Jesus’ suggestion because it “didn’t make sense” to their brains and experience, no miraculous catch would have happened. Yet someone had the wisdom to override his mental logic and say, “Nevertheless at Your word.”
Whether it’s choosing a mate or simply trying to solve a problem, God is asking us to lay aside our meager brains and allow Him to “direct out paths.” He doesn’t want to hear our arguments or logical analysis. He doesn’t want to hear us whine about how His command doesn’t make sense. He wants simple trust and obedience. He wants trust that He knows better than us, and obedience because we have made Him the Lord (or boss) of our lives. When we do, His will is done in our lives in such a way that it neither brings harm or setbacks.
The wonderful thing about obeying God is that He always does better for us than we could have ever done for ourselves. “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us . . .” (Ephesians 3:20) The wedding drank better wine at the end of the wedding than at the beginning. The disciples received more fish than their single boat could carry. True to His nature, God went above and beyond their expectations. It was a reward for their obedience and a magnificent show of His power.
True disciples and friends of Jesus obey Jesus. As Jesus-followers, we’re called to set aside our lordship of our lives and let Him take the lead. When we submit to Him, “acknowledging Him in all our ways,” we are saying that we belong to Him. As a result, we open the door to the miraculous in our lives . . . the miraculous that could never be achieved on our own understanding.
You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:14)