This was my life verse for awhile and then I realized I really was really poor at doing it.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. I used to think I knew what this meant. I’ve taught it to students confident it had to do with salvation. It sounds very easy, at least theologically speaking. I do trust in the Lord with all my heart because I trust him with my soul, right? I used to think it was that easy. I have prayed the sinner’s prayer and therefore I do trust him for the securing of my heart and the very safety of my soul. But this I’ve found fails to help at all with not actually leaning on my own understanding, as the next phrase of the verse reads. Doesn’t trusting God for my eternal life mean I am not leaning on my own understanding?
Well a bit. I am not leaning on my own understanding as far as salvation goes, but what about the rest of life? I believe I have a bit of understanding about life. This is the rub. I think that at this point in my life I do have some understanding, but more often than not it probably flies against what is God’s understanding. This is what this verse seems to be getting at. If I was trusting in the Lord with all my heart, I shouldn’t be leaning on my own understanding because my understanding is limited to my experience. Worse than this limiting is that my experience is skewed by my own ideas of right and wrong and where I place value and how I judge pleasure and pain. So my understanding is limited and my preferences are selfish and thus my understanding is not a useful barometer for the way things actually are. But thinking not in my own understanding is really difficult.
This is why the verse calls us away from our own understanding. So I may think that I am trusting and leaning but I actually keep getting caught up by what I feel about my experiences. This is why I have the problem of why my path seems not so straight or not so directed, depending on the translation. My path seems crooked, which does line up with my experiences, which makes my trusting in the Lord difficult. It is silly, but I only just realized that I was poor at trusting, really trusting.
I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I find it very difficult to not lean on my own understanding. Leaning only or leaning mostly on my own understanding is another way of saying that I am piss poor at faith. Not faith in God strictly speaking. I think of the verse where faith requires not simply that I believe that he is, which is fairly easy to do as a Christian, but the second part which says that we must believe that he is also a rewarder of those whose diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
This is difficult because I haven’t seen much reward. I feel that I have been diligently seeking him my whole life, but this may be more of that my understanding thing again. And while I do not think of the reward as cash and prizes, I still do feel more reward should have arrived by now. I have heard it taught that the reward is simply more of God himself, which I can appreciate, but this would lead me to believe that if I did have more of him I would be better at leaning on his understanding rather than my own.
This is mostly to say that I realize that I have probably been affecting my enjoyment of God because my skewed perspective of my circumstances. Good theology cannot speak to the trials in life if I am only looking at myself, or at least barely staring above myself.
So in the end maybe I have just revealed my poor faith when it comes to looking above my understanding of my circumstances to trust in God. But I am aware of the problem and I can only continue walking before him as humbly as possible as I attempt to get more of him and alter or have my perspective altered.