"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
This morning, a specific and well-known verse scratched for my attention – Proverbs 3:5-6. I've memorized it in the past. I've heard others extol its wisdom. But on this particular day, it fell flat from Familiarity Fatigue. I've heard it so many times before, it seemed drained of its strength – like a nerf bullet trying to pierce full body armor. Has this ever happened to you?
What did I do?
In situations like this I sometimes employ three strategies, "playing with the verse" in order to re-engage my heart and soul. Here's what I did:
Strategy 1: Blank It.
I wrote it out (in tidy penmanship, thanks to my elementary school teachers), but I left significant blanks in the verse, to ponder how I might have written this myself on a "down-in-the-dumps-day." Let me show you:
- "Trust in the _________ with ______ your heart,
- And lean not on _______________________;
- In _____ your ways ____________________,
- And he will make your paths ______________."
Inserting blanks forces me to engage with what the verse actually says. For example:
- Whom am I trusting in, me or the Lord? How much of my heart is committed to this?
- What do I tend to lean upon?
- Is God an afterthought or a present thought as I walk through my day?
- As I walk my journey, what is the condition of the path I'm on?
How would you fill in those blanks?
Strategy 2: Negate It.
If I were honest (actually, I about to be), I might rewrite this verse – to reflect my frequent reality – by negating what it actually says:
- "Trust in my own thinking and resources with my fickle heart,
- And lean not on an invisible and seemingly detached Creator;
- In all my ways acknowledge that "it all depends on me,"
- And I will walk these convoluted and dangerous paths."
Can you relate? Doesn't that capture how we actually walk through our days? Why is that? All I know for certain is that I don't want that to be me, today. Or tomorrow.
Strategy 3: Embrace It.
Finally, I attempt to rewrite the verse in my own words, staying faithful to the structure and key words of the passage. Here is how I summarized Proverbs 3:5-6 in order to embrace it more deeply:
- "Trust in the Lord – not in me – with all my heart's capacity,
- And lean not on my palpable but flawed perspective, my very limited vantage point (e.g. 2 Kings 6:15-17);
- In all my ways acknowledge that God Knows, God Can, and God Cares,
- And he will one day lead me safely through this minefield I'm in."
Amen. The verse becomes the prayer of my heart.
Perhaps the next time you get stuck in the weeds, you might borrow one of these strategies for yourself? Remember, He is good and has left us a document that is alive, which will do all that's necessary for us to connect with Him.