Some years ago Helen and I drove through the Rocky Mountains in Canada. Of course they form the Eastern part of what is known as the Canadian Cordillera, which is the collective name for the mountains of Western Canada. Now as a part of the overall American Cordillera this breath-taking mountain range stretches from Alaska to the very tip of South America.
There is no other way of putting it; the Canadian Rockies are spectacularly stunning and absolutely awe inspiring. This is particularly so in the autumn with its high snow-capped mountains and the myriad tree colour shades of brown, green, gold, yellow, bright red and orange. It’s not unusual to drive past Elk, Moose, Mule Deer, Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep. If you are really fortunate you may even see a Black or Grizzly Bear with two or three cubs in tow attempting to catch jumping salmon as they head up stream.
The whole experience for us, as we travelled through what has got to be some of most beautiful scenery in the world, was both exhilarating and unbelievably tranquil at the same time. Worth the trip! Worth every penny!
One evening we stayed in a lovely château style hotel in the picturesque resort town of Banff situated in the beautiful province of Alberta. Surrounded by the peaks of Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade which dominated the skyline all around it really was stupendously magnificent! As I took it all in I couldn’t help thinking to myself, ‘this has got to be one of God’s greatest ever masterpieces.’ The divine handiwork of a creative artist was plain for all to see!
Anyway, after strolling down the famous Banff Avenue checking out the many different boutiques and souvenir shops, we stopped at a restaurant for our evening meal. Throughout the meal I got into conversation, as you do, with our waiter, a young local man by the name of Grayson who was born and brought up in Banff. At one stage I commented on how stunningly beautiful the scenery was that surrounded Banff.
‘I suppose it is!’ he said ‘but when you live here and wake up to it every morning you tend not to notice it anymore – it’s just there, we tend to take it for granted – I guess we are just a bit too familiar with it all!’
You know, what he said is so true – don’t you think? It’s really easy to become so familiar with something that we no longer seem to appreciate it any more.
Don’t you think some well-known scriptures are like this, you know, we have become so familiar with them that we never seem to stop to pause and think about them anymore? We never seem to take in what they actually mean and how they apply to our lives. They are just there and they never seem to affect us anymore!
One classic example of this is found in Proverbs 3 verses 5 and 6. Let me remind you what they say….
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.’ (NASB)
This is exactly the type of passage we can become so familiar with that we don’t really notice it anymore, we just take it as a given and therefore we don’t allow it to have its full impact on our lives any longer.
So let’s take this opportunity to just pause for a moment and take a closer look again.
When King Solomon compiled his book of Proverbs, he wrote much of it as a Father might when offering his child wise insights and the benefit of his experience. Basically he says ‘son, do as I advise and you won’t go far wrong!’ He knew that they lived in a world where a myriad of voices would be hitting his boy with advice and counsel from every quarter and on every conceivable subject – he therefore seizes the initiative rather than abdicating his responsibility where his son was concerned. He didn’t want anybody and everybody being the ones who shaped his son’s thinking and behaviour. He knew he was the one who needed to speak into his son’s life – it was his responsibility first and foremost. He was therefore keen to teach and guide his son with the counsel, wisdom and observations that he had learned himself over the years.
Now the Father being a typical dad, speaks to his son about, how to handle money, about the consequences of drinking too much alcohol, he speaks much about the whole area of relationships, the dangers of promiscuity, what will stand him in good stead and what won’t, he instructs his son to be prudent and wise and shun foolishness and wickedness, he speaks about the folly of trusting in the wrong things, he talks about the importance of honouring his parents, he speaks about honesty and integrity …and so the list goes on including, believe it or not, what to look for in a good wife! We also find Solomon returning to certain subjects time and time again as if to highlight and emphasise them. The one subject he returns to most is how his son should be careful to be faithful in his walk with God.
In the passage we are focusing on in this article, the father strongly encourages the son to put his ‘trust in the Lord’ in everything he does. He emphasises this by saying ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart,’ that is with every ounce of your fibre, with everything you’ve got!
One thing the father did know was how easy it is for a person to put their trust in and be confident in so many different things that the world offers. He knew all too well that when a person puts his or her trust in their own strength, ability, creativity, ingenuity and power then they will ultimately end up being disappointed The father is abundantly clear, he says, put your whole trust in the Lord and in Him alone and whatever you do – don’t lean on your own understanding, reasoning, judgement and intelligence.
Most people find it a really challenging thing to keep trusting the Lord when they just can’t understand what’s going on in their lives and when there seems to be no way forward. I am sure the children of Israel must have felt like this when they marched out of Egypt and slavery straight into the wilderness heading for the Promised Land. At one stage the Egyptian military were in hot pursuit because Pharaoh had changed his mind about letting them go, in front of them was the Red Sea and they were flanked on both sides by impassable mountains. It must have seemed like there was no way out and that their journey had come to an abrupt dead end – heart stopping stuff! Their challenge must have been to keep trusting the Lord with all of their hearts and to not lean on their own understanding in any way – even though they could see no way forward.
But of course God knew exactly what he was doing. He knew what they didn’t, He could see what they couldn’t, He knew the end result – He always does! This was no mistake that God had made; the predicament His people were in came as no surprise to the all-knowing God. And then what does God go and do? He only parts the Red Sea so the children of Israel can walk through on dry land. Not only this, but as the Egyptians chase them through, the sea swallows them up and they are all wiped out.
Many years later, the Israelites look back on this incident and declare, ‘[Lord] Your road led by a pathway through the sea – a pathway no one knew was there!’ (Psalm 77:19 TLB)
Here’s the point, you may be facing what seems to be a real dead end situation in your life at the moment where nothing seems to make sense and where there seems no way through or out, a time when you just don’t understand what’s going on any more.
So let me encourage you to return to that most familiar passage in Proverbs 3:5-6. It is so important you keep on trusting the Lord with all your heart. You see, where you are at this present moment comes as no surprise to God. Remember, He knows what you don’t and He can see what you can’t.
Whatever you do don’t lean and depend on your own understanding, on your own strength ingenuity or wherewithal. Trust in the Lord with all your heart for He really can see a path that you don’t know about. If you will trust God and keep on moving in faith, even when you don’t see a way, He will make a way!
You might not understand at the moment, but in time you will – and you too will testify as Israel did, ‘[Lord] Your road led by a pathway through the sea – a pathway no one knew was there!’ (Psalm 77:19 TLB)
The truth is, there is still great truth in those passages of scripture that we hardly notice anymore. Maybe it’s time to take a fresh look again at some of those old familiar scriptures – they really do still apply and can make all the difference.
So be patient. God knows what He’s doing. God knows what’s best for you. He can see the end result and He’s got your situation all in hand. And don’t forget, you have His promise – ‘if you acknowledge Him in all your ways he will make your paths straight!’
Until next time, keep trusting and keep the faith.