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Trust in The Lord…in ALL things | A Sermon on Proverbs 3:5-6

Text: Proverbs 3:5-6

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Last week we introduced Wisdom literature and the Proverbs. Today we are going to dive into it and look at some verses in Proverbs 3 that you may have heard before. These are really popular verses when our confirmation students are asked to choose a life verse.

Let’s read them together from Proverbs 3:5-6.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

This week as I was meditating on this passage, one word really jumped out at me and caught my imagination. Look at it this way.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Trust in The Lord with all your heart.

I posted this on our church facebook page and got a little bit of discussion. The response was that it is really difficult to trust God in all things.

Do you ever feel that way? It’s one thing to trust God in the big, abstract things, like our salvation and our eternal destiny. OK, I know I can’t control that, so I’ll give that one to God, but can I really trust God when it comes to my children’s safety, or meeting my deadlines at work, or balancing my checkbook?

Why is it so hard to trust God?

There are a couple reasons I want to look at.

The first has to do with waffles and spaghetti.

Have you heard of the book “Men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti”? As I was meditating on the text this week that metaphor popped into my mind. I don’t know, maybe I was hungry at the time. I want to borrow that image. I don’t want to talk about the difference between men and women, I want to borrow the image of the waffle and spaghetti and use it in a different way.

I think there are two ways of thinking about our lives that are on this continuum. On the one side is waffle-esque thinking and on the other is spaghetti-ish thinking. I think one of the reasons it is so hard to trust in The Lord with all our heart is because our culture is designed around the waffle-esque way of thinking.

Let’s see what I mean.

A waffle is divided into all these little compartments that are separate. Let’s fill some of these compartments with activities like our work, being involved in coaching the kids softball team, serving on the city council, things like that. We’ll call this our public life.

Then we come over here and fill it with things like watching our favorite TV shows, routing for our favorite football team, spending time with family and friends, going to church. We’ll call this our Private life.

Then we come down here and think about our inner thought life, how we spend our quietest moments, when no one is around, how we take care, or don’t take care of our bodies. We’ll call this our inner self.

Then there’s one more little square that I’m going to call our hidden self. This is the deepest part of us that we might not even be aware of, but it drives us from the inside out.

This is the waffleesque life. Does it look familiar. I’d like you to think about your life right now. Can you sense that there is a difference between your publice life and your private life?

Let’s make it look even more cut and dried.

Here we have a nicely packaged public self and a private self. Do you ever find that you have to put on a different self when you enter your public arena? We spend most of our lives needing to put on our game faces, just to make it through the day.

Then when we get home to our private world, we can take off the public mask and be whoever we want to be in the privacy of our own home.

This is so embedded into our culture that you might be thinking, yeah, and your point? So, I go to work and be the person I have to be and then I come home and I can be myself. What’s the problem. I have to survive, right?

Yes, that’s true, but I want you to look at this illustration closely. Where is church and faith? it’s in the private sector. In the United States we just celebrated our Independence from England. One of the greatest aspects of our freedom in America is our religious freedom. Trust me, I am very grateful for the fact that I can come here, that I can be employed as a Pastor, and no one cares. I have the freedom to worship whomever I want, or no one at all if I choose, and the government can’t tell me what to do.

In our culture, faith has been tightly sealed in the private sector and no one is allowed to talk about God or faith in the public realm. Faith has been equated with private choice and has as much value as your preference of football teams, TV shows, and going to the cabin. This is the byproduct of our modern world. The Public world is the “real” world of science and politics and money, and the private world is the place for fairy tales, fun, and faith, when you have a little spare time.

I really think this is one of the major reasons why it is so hard to trust God in all things. The cultural air that we breath does not allow us to do it.

Our Proverb says that if we trust in the Lord in all things then he will make our paths straight.
If life looks like this and we are on a journey, walking on a path, then what happens when all the different parts of our life are moving in different directions? This looks like confusion and inner turmoil.

Have you ever felt like this? I know I definitely have. I still struggle with this.

Part of spiritual formation is realizing that all of these parts are equal in God’s eyes and if we learn to seek God first in all of them, then we will start moving on the scale. The first step is to break down the Public/Private categories. It’s all spiritual…everything.

It takes time, but eventually we’ll see that all the different parts are connected, like spaghetti.
Jesus told us in the gospel lesson to seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness and all these things will be added to us.

That’s one reason why it is so hard to trust God in all things, but there is another, much simpler reason. It’s just hard to trust…period.

Trust is not something that you can just turn on. Trust must be earned over time.
The reason we can trust God is because God is trustworthy.

I used to think that trusting in God was about trusting that God had a plan for my life. My job was to step in line so that I could find the plan.

Something I’ve come to learn is that it is not so much that God has a PLAN as it is that God has made a PROMISE to be trustworthy in our lives.

I don’t know what this looks life in your life. The truth is that it is different for everyone. There isn’t a five-step plan to trusting God.

All I can tell is what I’ve experienced.

I used to have God’s plan all mapped out for my life.

When I graduated from college I had a plan. I had consciously denied a calling to ministry and decided God wanted me to be an artist. I would become a Disney Animator and then open my own studio and help inner city kids through art. It was a beautiful plan.

Then life happened and I had to adjust. I went into ministry at a big church. Once I got there I had a plan. My plan went this way and life went this way.

I adjusted again. We started the house church and I had a plan. The plan went this way and life went that way.

You would think I would learn.

Then in February of 2007 God told me to move to Minnesota and get a PhD. OK, I thought. Lord, I like your idea, and here’s how I’m going to do it. I’ll sell my house, take all the equity, start my business, and then we’ll figure out about the PhD. But, God, do not ask me to be a pastor again. That is not going to happen!

My plan went this way, and life went that way. I lost my house, lost all my money, and had no idea where or how to get a PhD.

Then my Dad introduced me to Pastor Mark and I started working here. I wrestled with God for a few months.

Finally in March of 2010 I took pastor Mark out for coffee and said, “I surrender. Whatever God wants from me. I’m willing to do it now. If I need to become an ELCA pastor, then let’s go for it.”
Then pastor Mark said. “You know, I think you should get your PhD.”

He introduced me to Luther, I got a free ride scholarship, and someone from my past called up the church and said he wanted to support me financially so I could close down my freelance business, cut back at church and get my degree.

Wow.

People ask me now, “so, what’s the plan after you finish.” For the first time in my life I honestly don’t have a plan.

But do you know what? Lona and I have a trust in God like we’ve never had before. God has been trustworthy through it all.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Lean not on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge him
And he wiil make straight your paths.

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