Every Christian who has known the Lord for any length of time has been encouraged or admonished, as the case may be, by the following three verses and their contexts:
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5, 6
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
The desires represented by these two passages are universal. In the first, the desire for the Lord’s direction regarding the walk is expressed, i.e., direction for taking the right “steps” in life, making wise decisions. The desire expressed in the second is the same and equally clear when considered in its primary context (vss 11-14): “a plain path,” i.e., plain, clear, Divine direction as to the best path, the best way(s) to “go” in life.
What then is necessary to obtain the clear, Divine direction desired? I will only comment on two things today: (1) sincerely acknowledging and (2) patiently waiting on the Lord.
When we think of “acknowledging” someone, we probably most often think of a “tip of the hat,” or a “nodding of the head” type of acknowledgment, a sort of “Hi. How’re you doing?” kind of interaction. However, Strong’s says that to “acknowledge” the Lord in the context of Proverbs 3:6 means
“to know (properly to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively instruction, designation, punishment, etc.):”
The acknowledgment exhorted here then is more of an “I hear you…I see you” type of acknowledgment. What is the implication? To truly acknowledge the Lord so that He can direct our path means that we have to “know” Him as our Lord, look for and “see” His hand, listen for and “hear” His voice then obey, i.e., “do,” what He commands, that is, follow the leading He provides.
This should not be controversial. It is, after all, the essence of what the Lord Himself consistently taught and encouraged:
“But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” John 10:2-4
It is always the Lord’s desire to lead us to “green pastures…still waters” of His own choosing. He who knows all things knows best. However, if we do not understand or accept the fact that our Lord has a perfect, directive will for our life, we will not sincerely seek His leading. Consequently, we will not truly acknowledge Him and will have no absolute assurance that our path is being directed by Him to His fullest glory and our greatest blessing.
The saint’s blessing is greatest when he attentively listens for his Good Shepherd’s voice and, upon clearly hearing Him, follows His omniscient lead. Anything less than this will result in a life the blessings of which are something less than the Lord would desire to provide.
“Wait on the Lord”
Again, our normal understanding of “wait” is a kind of “hanging around” until something happens. However, that is not what this word means in the context of the above passage. This wait is like the “rest” spoken of in Hebrews 4:9-11 for which the saint must “labour.” This “waiting” is not a passive waiting, but an active anticipating, a drawing near to our Counselor to gather all the “facts” in preparation for taking directed action. This “waiting” requires spiritual “effort.”
Once more Strong’s definition provides perspective:
“to bind together (perhaps by twisting), that is, collect; (figuratively) to expect:”
Waiting on the Lord so that we might find a “plain path” for our life then requires "binding" ourself to the Lord and submitting our ways to His. It requires bringing to bear on our decisions all the resources our Lord provides for us by way of His grace and love.
In practical terms, seeking and finding the Lord’s direction for our life’s decisions requires us to be in unhindered fellowship with Him, in earnest, selfless prayer, committed and diligent study of the Word of God, humble seeking of and submitting to wise, spiritual counsel, etc., all with sincerity of heart and holiness of purpose. The Believer who will diligently “collect” this spiritual input, patiently and prayerfully consider it in the light of his heavenly calling to be a “living sacrifice” to be used for the Lord’s purposes (Romans 12:1, 2), then soberly “bind” it all together with the help of the Spirit into a godly decision/commitment that will glorify God is truly “waiting” on the Lord. Such an one can be assured that he will be given a clear vision of the “plain path” to the Lord’s blessings in his life.
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