The Directed Path
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6)
When I saw the article topics and verses for this series, I knew I would need to write about this one… In my life I’ve probably recited to myself Proverbs 3:5–6 more than any other verses: practical, Godly advice that will make the burdens of life easier.
Do you have Bible verses like that in your life? Passages that you lean on? They happen to convey that particular message – that nugget of wisdom – that you needed. You couldn’t think of it yourself, God’s divine guidance revealed in verses at a particular moment.
I bet you have passages like that. This is one for me. It might even be this exact passage that’s helped you too. I remember seeing it there, just sitting in my Bible, staring back at me, some 18 years ago. “Did God put this passage here for me?” I thought. (The answer is yes, but it’s there for everyone!)
I grew up in a household of three boys. I was in the middle. It was a close-knit and loving household of five. Lots of “peaks,” but we had a handful of very deep “valleys.”
My older brother moved away for college, but one weekend in late September, he came back to Kentucky to visit us. We had a great weekend, said goodbye Sunday afternoon and he went on his way back to school. Little did we know that while the rest of my family was attending evening services, my big brother, Adam, was killed in an auto accident heading back to Bloomington, Indiana.
From the look of things, it seems my 21-year-old brother was swapping CDs in the player and accidentally crossed the median at the exact same time as a semi-truck passed in the opposite direction.
Our family of five changed to a family of four in an instant.
I won’t list out all the amazing things about Adam, and I won’t pretend he had no flaws, which it seems we tend to do when people pass away. But I will say that, to me, he was the absolute greatest. He was the first hero I’d ever had in my life. And yet, somehow, it was my God’s will to take him from me? It didn’t make sense… I didn’t understand…
In the following days, studying scriptures had more gravity to it. Our family was grieving and heartbroken. I was 18 years old and my relatively new faith received its first gut check. And what a first trial I was given, at that. It was the first time I’d ever uttered in a prayer, “Why God?”
I vividly remember the moments of that week following his death. The visitation, the funeral, our church family around us. I may have seen my parents cry at some point before this, but not like this. I’d never seen this type of pain in them before. Sleeping pills so they could rest. Sudden and inconsolable sobbing. I remember all of it. Yet, I also remember studying Proverbs 3 the following Sunday morning in Bible study.
This was the first time in my young life when I truly could not understand why God’s will unfolded the way that it did. And on that Sunday morning I was re-centered and comforted to know that there was a scripture sitting there giving me the exact guidance that I needed. To paraphrase what I’d read in Proverbs 3 into my 18 year old mind, “Sit tight, Kyle. God is in control even when you don’t understand it. Keep Him first, and He will continue to take care of you.” The verses don’t explain God’s will. The verses remind us that sometimes we can’t understand His will, but we don’t really have to. As long as we stay with Him, He will stay with us. He will straighten the path of life in front of us.
In the book of Isaiah, God reminds us of this truth. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
The Apostle Paul took it a step further to help illustrate the distance between us and our Creator in his letter to the church at Corinth: “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
We cannot comprehend the way God thinks, nor can we appreciate His macro-perspective. Even though we want to, His foolishness is above the greatest wisdom that we can obtain. God is the creator of all the lives that come and go on this earth. And sometimes the time spans that they comprise, or the circumstances that surround them, don’t always make sense to us. But that doesn’t mean that God is not working towards what is best for us. It’s quite the contrary. All things are working together to the benefit of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
The weeks, months and even years that followed Adam’s death were challenging. Some days were okay, and then some other days were quite the opposite. But these verses in Proverbs were always there for me. They kept me grounded. And they served the same purpose as future trials visited me. I pray they always will.
With the benefit of perspective and age, I have analyzed time and again decisions that I made after we lost Adam. Though it was impossible to see at the time, as I look backward now, many things would be dramatically different in my life. Through this tragedy, God opened different doors than I’d anticipated, and He has blessed me in ways I could not have imagined. I trust with all my heart that God put a better path in front of me.
West Mason family, are there trials and hardships that are discouraging you? Burdens that you just don’t understand? You could be reading this post on your phone while sitting in a hospital waiting room. Or maybe it’s the unemployment office. Sit tight. God is in control even when you don’t understand it. Look to the wise words in Proverbs 3. Brothers and sisters, let us collectively acknowledge Him. In doing so, He will direct our paths. Amen.