Nobody came to our service last week, but that was okay since it gave us time to get to know one another’s beliefs better. This week it was my turn to give the sermon. I had picked out a passage that I love, but haven’t reflected on in a while. Nine o’clock came and the amphitheater was still empty. We jokingly played country-esque songs and joked around. After fifteen minutes we had pretty much assumed nobody was coming, even though we invited people from eighty campsites. At nine-twenty when we were getting up to leave when Alex suggested that we just give our worship service to an empty audience. I made a field of dreams joke. We began introducing ourselves to an imaginary crowd.
And then, ambling down the path came three campers. They apologized for being late and sat down in the second row. It threw us off but we were glad nevertheless that people came. Then we began service. I talked about Proverbs 3:1-8. A message I need to hear, that many of us need to hear. Something that we have trouble doing but should do. A gentle reminder. They say it only takes 27 days to form a habit. I wonder how much our lives would change if we practiced trusting the Lord, wholly, completely, and unabashedly, for 27 days. Here is the passage I preached on:
“ (1) My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; (2) for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare they will give you.(3) Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. (4) so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and people.”
“ (5) Trust in the Lord with all you heart and do not rely on your own insight. (6) In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (7) Do not be wise in you own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (8) It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body.”
Verse 3 sticks out to me. An encouragement to stay faithful. The writer is acknowledging that being loyal can be difficult. There will be situations and circumstances which will make us question our loyalty. There will be times when the world around us is so chaotic and dark and we will not want to be loyal or faithful. Maybe we will feel that there is no point. That we have not been rewarded for our faithfulness. But that’s not the point, is it? We should not be faithful to be rewarded, but faithful for faithfulness’ sake. Loyal for loyalties sake. Perhaps the writer was struggling with being loyal and faithful and was writing this as an encouragement for themselves and the future generations who live with the same struggles. A practice we should live out daily, incorporating loyalty and faithfulness into our lives so fervently that even in the darkness times we will hold fast to them.
At verse 5 I am reminded of my own inadequacy. I would like to think I understand my direction in life. I would like to think I know how the world works and why things happen. I would like to think that I am capable of making the right decisions. And sometimes I might be. But this passage humbles us, reminding us that we are not omniscient like God. That our knowledge and perception can only get us so far. When trusting in our own insight we only have a microscopic view of events. But trusting in God is like having a panoramic view.
The writer also knows that we can trust in God sometimes. Perhaps when we see how it will be beneficial, or when trusting in God is easy. But the writer is reminding us that in all ways we need to acknowledge God. In all ways, whether we see the point or not. Whether we understand why or not. In all ways.
And again the reminder to not be wise in our own eyes. A reminder to look to God, to the one greater than ourselves for guidance on how to live. When we try living and doing things from our own wisdom, relying on ourselves, we will become burdened. We will be weary. But when we surrender ourselves to trusting in the Lord, a bodies and souls will be nourished, healed, and refreshed.
But trusting in the Lord requires relinquishing our need for control.