As my sisters and I started getting older, my family began a new Christmas tradition. Since we were no longer children, we decided that instead of each of us buying every family member a big-item, super expensive gift, we would each draw one name from a hat and would go above and beyond for that one member of the family and buy nice, but smaller, less expensive gifts for everyone else. That way everyone would receive an over-the-top exciting gift and lots of other little presents to enjoy.
I remember one particular year I drew my dad’s name. So, as the tradition went, that Christmas I would get my dad an expensive, special, surprise gift. I was so excited and immediately started planning what his gift would be! Now, this was back when the Total Gym was first released onto the market. Remember the Chuck Norris and Christy Brinkley infomercials promoting the exciting, easy to use home gym? You also need to remember that when the Total Gym first came out, it was a very expensive piece of equipment. So, I thought, yes…this is it; this is what I’ll get my dad!
Jump forward to Christmas day that year. I had the family all gather in the living room. I made everyone close their eyes as I hauled out (as quietly as I could), this BIG surprise gift for my dad. Being one who is always a little bit “extra,” I decided to do a demo on the equipment to help get my dad excited at its potential and how fun working out on the machine would be for him. So, I raised the roller bench to the highest level, sat on my knees tilted downwards, and pulled the resistance straps with my hands behind my back. I was now positioned to duplicate what I’d seen on TV. Then I proudly announced, “Dad, this is how you do it.” A couple seconds later as I lay on the floor after face-planting into the carpet, wrapped tightly in the straps with my body twisted into a pretzel upside down, my dad calmly said, “I don’t think I want to try that.”
Well, as is with most exercise equipment, his gift took its place sitting in a corner with clothes and clutter piled up on it. I can’t help but wonder if my demonstration had something to do with that.
I mention that story to illustrate how often my own understanding has failed me. I had the equipment, I had the infomercial, but not once did I look at or through the directions. Basically, I didn’t know what I was doing, and that clearly showed.
I’m certain we don’t intentionally set out to resist or defy submitting to God in every area of our lives. We want to trust Him, but sometimes our loss of control can make us feel anxious or even fearful.
The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
If you’re like me, you want to live out those Scriptures. I’m certain we don’t intentionally set out to resist or defy submitting to God in every area of our lives. We want to trust Him, but sometimes our loss of control can make us feel anxious or even fearful.
Now imagine being in a skyscraper and looking down on the traffic below. From that viewpoint, it’s easy to see every obstacle facing the drivers below, and in that position those obstacles can be seen for blocks. It’s from that vantage point that God sees us as He is directing our lives. The road that may seem best at our limited vantage point, may be one God wants us to avoid for reasons He alone can see.
“Submission” means to accept and yield to the will or authority of another. Add to that “trust,” which means having a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.
At times, if I’m honest, I have put more trust in my GPS to get me to a destination, than I put in God to direct my path. I enter the destination and follow every detour and every reroute without question.
Here is what God promises: if we put our trust in Him and submit to His will, He will make our paths straight. The Hebrew word for make straight is yashar, a verb meaning to make smooth. What that literally means is that God will cut a straight road through difficult terrain and make a straight path.
I think we can all agree that this is a promise we want operating in our lives – learning to trust and submit fully to God will allow us to see this promise fulfilled.